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NFL Q&A

By BRUCE LOWITT, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published September 6, 2002

Q: How much does winning the season's opening game mean in terms of reaching the postseason?

A: A lot. Since the 16-game schedule began in 1978 (and excluding the strike-shortened 1982 season), 176 of 330 teams that won openers went to the playoffs while only 76 of the 330 losers made it.

Q: Why is the Bears season headed down?

A: They're playing their home games in Champaign-Urbana, home to the University of Illinois 138 miles south of Chicago, while Soldier Field is being renovated.

Q: Which team has the best opening-day winning percentage?

A: The Jaguars, 6-1 (.857). Okay, excluding the Jags and Panthers (seven games) and Ravens (six), it's the Cowboys, 30-11-1 (.732). The two teams with the most opening-game wins are Da Bears and Giants (39).

Q: How many running backs have opened the season with a game of 200-plus yards?

A: Five. O.J. Simpson, Bills, 250 (1973); Eddie George, Titans, 216 (1997); George Rogers, Saints, 206 (1983); Gerald Riggs, Falcons, 202 (1984); Duce Staley, Eagles, 201 (2000).

Q: Who is the longest-serving active NFL coach with one team?

A: Bill Cowher, starting his 11th season with the Steelers.

Q: Which active NFL team has switched conferences twice?

A: Seattle. It was placed in the NFC West in its inaugural season (1976) when the Bucs were an AFC West team. The Seahawks were switched to the AFC West in 1977, remaining there until this season, when they were moved back to the NFC West.

Q: What do the Packers, Dolphins, Steelers, 49ers, Cowboys and Broncos have in common?

A: They're the only teams to win successive Super Bowls.

Q: John Madden is the 14th Monday Night Football broadcaster. Can you name the 13 others?

A: Howard Cosell, Dan Dierdorf, Boomer Esiason, Dan Fouts, Frank Gifford, Keith Jackson, Alex Karras, Don Meredith, Al Michaels, Dennis Miller, Joe Namath, O.J. Simpson and Fran Tarkenton.

Q: How many Super Bowl champions failed to make the playoffs the following season?

A: Nine: Packers (1968), Chiefs (1970), Steelers (1980), Raiders (1981), 49ers (1982), Giants (1987, 1991), Redskins (1988), Broncos (1998).

Q: Tony Dungy (Bucs to Colts), Jon Gruden (Raiders to Bucs) and Marty Schottenheimer (Redskins to Chargers) are the most recent coaches to switch conferences in consecutive seasons. Of the other 12 to have made the switch since 1970, how many made the playoffs with their new team?

A: Four. Mike Holmgren (Packers to Seahawks), Bobby Ross (Chargers to Lions), Dan Reeves (Broncos to Giants) and Don Coryell (Cardinals to Chargers). Coryell was named Chargers coach in Week 5.

Q: Which teams have the current streaks for opening-game wins and losses?

A: Wins: Dolphins, 10; losses: Browns, 4.

Q: How many quarterbacks have thrown for 400+ opening-game yards?

A: Eight. (Norm Van Brocklin, Rams, 554 (1951); Dan Marino, Dolphins, 473 (1994); Kurt Warner, Rams, 441 (2000); Drew Bledsoe, Patriots, 421 (1994); Glenn Foley, Jets, 415 (1998); Pete Beathard, Oilers (AFC), 413 (1968); Phil Simms, Giants, 409 (1984); Johnny Unitas, Colts, 401 (1967).

Q: Which player jerseys, according to NFLShop.com, are the current top three sellers?

A: 1, Brian Urlacher, Bears; 2, Eddie George, Titans; 3, Jerry Rice, Raiders (Warren Sapp, Bucs, is No. 8).

Q: Who were the first NFL teammates to rush for 1,000 or more yards in the same season?

A: Dolphins Larry Csonka (1,117) and Jim Kiick (1,000) in 1972.

Q: Who is the Cowboys running backs coach?

A: Galen Hall, who coached the Cowboys' Emmitt Smith at Florida (1987-89).

Q: Which two teams scored the most combined points in a season-opening game?

A: The Eagles and Redskins with 87 in 1947. Philadelphia won 45-42.

Q: How many receivers have caught 200-plus opening-game yards passing?

A: Six. Frank Clarke, Cowboys, 241 (1962); Hugh Taylor, Redskins, 212 (1947); Lance Alworth, Chargers (AFC), 211 (1965); Irving Fryar, Miami, 211 (19940; Wes Chandler, Saints, 205 (1979); Don Maynard, Jets (AFC), 203 (1968).

Q: When did the NFL play its first indoor championship game?

A: Dec. 18, 1932, in Chicago Stadium, when a blizzard forced the NFL to move it from Wrigley Field. The Portsmouth Spartans (renamed the Detroit Lions in 1934) and the Bears finished the season tied for first (there were no divisions then) after playing to a tie twice during the season, forcing the playoff to decide the championship. Chicago won 9-0.

Q: Which, according to NFLShop.com, are the top selling team jerseys?

A: 1, Raiders; 2, Cowboys; 3, Titans (the Bucs are 10th).

Q: How many teams have won 100 or more games the past 10 seasons?

A: Two. 49ers (107), Packers (104).

Q: Of the 11 modern-era expansion franchises (Cowboys, Vikings, Dolphins, Falcons, Saints, Bengals, Seahawks, Bucs, Panthers, Jaguars and Browns), how many won their inaugural game?

A: One: Vikings 37, Bears 13; 1961.

Q: What was the NFL's previous name?

A: The American Professional Football Association was born in 1922. Two years later, Bears owner George Halas successfully lobbied to change the name to the National Football League.

Q: What is the number of the Super Bowl to be played Feb. 5, 2006 at Ford Field in Detroit?

A: XL.

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