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Week 1 Win Equals Long-Term Success

Finally, we're "back to football." There has been much speculation leading into this past weekend's games as to which teams will make the playoffs, win their division, and win the Super Bowl. Now with Kickoff Weekend under our belt we can take a look at the first true litmus test of the entire league's chances for the postseason.

Since 1978 when the NFL went to a 16-game schedule (not including the strike-shortened '82 season) 251 of the 474 teams which won their opener went to the playoffs. A total of 147 of those teams actually won their division. Conversely, of the 474 teams who lost the first game of the season only 106 advanced to the playoffs and a mere 63 won their division.

There is a popular saying that "one game does not make a season," but analyzing the Kickoff Weekend efforts of all NFL teams seems to prove otherwise.

How about all the Super Bowl teams? How many of them won their season-opener? Let's take a look both teams that made it to the yearly big game.

Super Bowl Winner Opener Result Loser Opener Result
I Green Bay win Kansas City win
II Green Bay tie Oakland win
III N.Y. Jets win Baltimore win
IV Kansas City win Minnesota loss
V Baltimore win Dallas win
VI Dallas win Miami tie
VII Miami win Washington win
VIII Miami win Minnesota win
IX Pittsburgh win Minnesota win
X Pittsburgh win Dallas win
XI Oakland win Minnesota win
XII Dallas win Denver win
XIII Pittsburgh win Dallas win
XIV Pittsburgh win Los Angeles loss
XV Oakland win Philadelphia win
XVI San Francisco loss Cincinnati win
XVII Washington win Miami win
XVIII L.A. Raiders win Washington loss
XIX San Francisco win Miami win
XX Chicago win New England win
XXI N.Y. Giants loss Denver win
XXII Washington win Denver loss
XXIII San Francisco win Cincinnati win
XXIV San Francisco win Denver win
XXV N.Y. Giants win Buffalo win
XXVI Washington win Buffalo win
XXVII Dallas win Buffalo win
XXVIII Dallas loss Buffalo win
XXIX San Francisco win San Diego win
XXX Dallas win Pittsburgh win
XXXI Green Bay win New England loss
XXXII Denver win Green Bay win
XXXIII Denver win Atlanta win
XXXIV St. Louis win Tennessee win
XXXV Baltimore win N.Y. Giants win
XXXVI New England loss St. Louis win
XXXVII Tampa Bay loss Oakland win
XXXVIII New England loss Carolina win
XXXIX New England win Philadelphia win
XL Pittsburgh win Seattle loss
XLI Indianapolis win Chicago win
XLII N.Y Giants loss New England win
XLIII Pittsburgh win Arizona win
XLIV New Orleans win Indianpolis win
XL Green Bay win Pittsburgh win

When looking at the numbers it is quite evident if you want to make it to the Super Bowl, you want to win the first game of the season. Of the 45 Super Bowl winners, only seven lost in Week One. Interestingly, one less or six of all the Super Bowl runners-up lost the first game of the season.

Airing it out

Kickoff Weekend 2011 also set a new bar in terms of passing yardage. There was a total of 8,419 gross passing yards logged by all 32 NFL teams during this past weekend's action which represents an all-time high for any single week in NFL history.

NFL offenses have become more and more pass oriented since the league was founded in 1920. Anyone can easily see proof of that by looking at the total yards compiled by all teams each decade.

Decade Passing Yards
1920s Unavailable
1930s 69,444
1940s 159,117
1950s 269,009
1960s 660,967
1970s 677,888
1980s 951,087
1990s 1,025,543
2000s 1,135,331

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