Did the NFL Know That Offenses Would Dominate Defenses Like We Saw in Week 1?

Caleb GarlingCorrespondent ISeptember 16, 2011

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - SEPTEMBER 12:   Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots jogs off the field after winning a game against the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium on September 12, 2011 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

After I posted my quick column on statistics earlier this week, I noticed that the NFL released a statement aggregating a few more. They’re pretty amazing. What we saw was a beyond-historic offensive output for one weekend.

There’s a good chance you can chuck whatever fantasy predictions you were banking on this year—at least for the first half.

Here’s what the NFL had to say:

  1. The 752 points scored tied for the ninth-most in a single week in NFL history and were the second-most ever scored on Kickoff Weekend.
  2. There were 89 touchdowns scored, tied for the sixth-most in a single week in NFL history and tied for the most ever on Kickoff Weekend (2002).
  3. NFL teams combined to throw for 7,842 net passing yards, the highest total in any week in NFL history.
  4. There were five games in which each team had a player throw for at least 300 yards—the most such games in a week in NFL history.
  5. Fourteen quarterbacks threw for at least 300 yards, the most in a single week in NFL history.
  6. There were eight combined kick-return touchdowns (five punt, three kickoff)—the most combined kick-return touchdowns in a single week in NFL history.
  7. The three kickoff-return touchdowns are tied for the most in an opening weekend in NFL history (1970, 1998).
  8. There were three kickoff-return touchdowns of at least 100 yards—Green Bay’s RANDALL COBB (NFL-recordtying 108 yards), Minnesota’s PERCY HARVIN (103) and San Francisco’s TED GINN JR. (102). It marked just the second week in NFL history with three 100-plus yard kickoff-return touchdowns (Week 5, 1958).
  9. San Francisco’s Ginn became the 12th player in NFL history—and the first on Kickoff Weekend—to return a kickoff (102 yards) and a punt (55 yards) for a touchdown in a single game. Ginn accomplished the feat just 59 seconds apart, the fastest of the 12 players to do so.
  10. Carolina rookie quarterback CAM NEWTON had 422 passing yards, the most ever by a player in his NFL debut. The previous mark was 346 yards by Pro Football Hall of Famer OTTO GRAHAM in 1950. Newton’s 422 yards are tied for the most in a single game by a rookie (MATTHEW STAFFORD, November 22, 2009).
  11. Cincinnati rookie wide receiver A.J. GREEN caught a game-winning 41-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter of the Bengals’ 27-17 win at Cleveland. It was the longest fourth-quarter game-winning TD catch in NFL history by a rookie in his team’s first game (22 yards, COBB ROONEY of the Duluth Kelleys in 1924).
  12. The Thursday night Kickoff opener between Green Bay (AARON RODGERS: 312 yards, 3 TDs) and New Orleans (DREW BREES: 419 yards, 3 TDs) marked the first time in NFL history that opposing quarterbacks both passed for at least 300 yards and three touchdowns without an interception in their teams’ season opener.  
  13. The Monday night contest between New England (TOM BRADY, 517) and Miami (CHAD HENNE, 416) was the first game in NFL history with a 500-yard passer and 400-yard passer. The 906 net passing yards between the two teams were the most in a game in NFL history. 

Pretty awesome. If that continues, the entire fantasy football universe is going to go into chaos. 

So here’s where the causal/theoretical/just-for-fun questioning center of my brain comes to life: Is there any chance the NFL banked on this when calculating the business impact of the lockout? If this pace were to continue—a big IF, because an unpracticed offense, apparently, will usually smoke an unpracticed defense (I think of the backyard football analogy)—then are we going to see one of the most prolific first halves, if not in seasons, in history?

Only time will tell. I’m not here to predict that.

But what I really do wonder is if the NFL examined their game, consulted with some folks and said, “You know, not only will we dominate baseball, basketball and hockey’s coverage this offseason with our idiotic lockout proceedings, but we’ll also tear the doors off SportsCenter when we get back because so many defenses will be unpracticed that offenses are going to have a field day—especially the passing games, which are probably the league’s biggest selling point.”

Part of me wants to give the league that much credit and foresight; and part of me actually watches the people at play—Roger Goodell, the owners, the players union—and thinks I’m giving them too much credit.

Regardless, if the trend continues, we’re in for a ride this season—and you can throw a lot of your fantasy football predictions out the window too.

[Caleb writes for Wired and says other stuff at  www.twitter.com/calebgarling]