A big part of what makes Week 1 so exciting – aside from the simple fact that football is back – is the unknown. How will off-season additions fit in? Which players and teams will surprise? We just don’t know what to expect. Still, we can look at some past trends to make our best guess.

Let’s break down two of the most anticipated games this week. The numbers present two fascinating clashes.

Packers at Vikings

USATSI

When the Packers have the ball…

Gone is Davante Adams and his 169 targets from last season. In is…well, we’re not entirely sure. Samy Watkins? Christian Watson? Romeo Doubs? Those three offseason additions, along with leftovers Allen Lazard and Randall Cobb, should be Aaron Rodgers’ best wide receivers.

Rodgers indicated last month that he wanted his two best running backs – Aaron Jones and AJ Dillonin the field at the same time. Last season, Green Bay went just 29 games with multiple running backs on the field, 23rd in the NFL. Almost a quarter of these (seven) came in a single game: January 2, 2022 against … the Vikings. In that game, Jones had 106 scrimmage yards and Dillon had 83 scrimmage yards and two scores.

It’s something to watch out for. Jones had 52 receptions last year, tied for sixth among running backs, and his six receiving touchdowns were second to Austin Ekeler. Dillon, meanwhile, caught 34 of his 37 targets; his 92% receiving rate was second in the NFL behind only James Conner.

It’s hard to know exactly what this Green Bay offense will look like, but we do know one thing: Rodgers has absolutely been dominating division games recently. Over the past two seasons, Rodgers has thrown a mind-blowing 38 touchdowns and ZERO interceptions against NFC North opponents.

When the Vikings have the ball…

The Vikings also have a new look, but for a different reason: they still have their dominant wide receiver (Justin Jefferson), but they have a new coach in Kevin O’Connella product of Sean McVay drive shaft.

One of the main staples of McVay’s offense is play-action. Last year, the Rams averaged 8.9 yards per offside game, just behind the 49ers. This should fit perfectly with Kirk Cousins’ greatest strength.

Kirk Cousins ​​on Play-Action last season

NFL Ranking

Passer ranking

116.0

3rd

TD pass

12

T-5e

Skip TD percentage

8.2%

4th

The Vikings actually used the game quite often last season. What should change this year is how they line up when they do: The Rams led “11” personnel (one running back, one tight end) on a record 882 games in the NFL last year. The Vikings, meanwhile, have used that staff on just 458 games, 28th in the NFL. That could be a big boost for Minnesota’s top two offensive weapons.

Notable Vikings stats last season

In 11 personal

In any other personal

Dalvin Cook yards per touch

6.4

4.4

Dalvin Cook percentage of rushes for more than 5 yards

42.4%

33.0%

Justin Jefferson’s target rate

30.2%

22.6%

Justin Jefferson receives yards

732

884

Basically, Cook is outstanding in 11 staff and Jefferson is more involved in 11 staff. The Vikings are going to use a lot more 11 staff this year. Sounds like a solid starting point.

How to watch

Date: Sunday September 11 | Time: 4:25 p.m. ET
Location: U.S. Bank Stadium (Minneapolis, Minnesota)
TV: Fox | Flow: fuboTV (Click here)
Follow: CBS Sports app
Odds: Vikings +1.5, O/U 47

Cowboys at Buccaneers

When the Cowboys have the ball…

The Cowboys launch a new offensive line, some parts by design, some not. Dallas let La’el Collins (Bengals) and Connor Williams (Dolphins) go in free agency, but the biggest blow came when left tackle Tyron Smith suffered a hamstring tear in late August. First-round rookie Tyler Smith will fill Tyron Smith’s spot, and that’s no small feat.

Cowboys last season

Tyron Smith on the pitch

Tyron Smith off the pitch

Dak Prescott’s yards per attempt

7.6

7.2

Dak Prescott Bag Rate

3.9%

6.1%

Team yards per carry

4.8

4.0

Team yards before contact by rush

1.7

1.1

The group will not be able to calm down. The Buccaneers blitzed over 36% of opponents’ dropouts last season, the second-highest rate in the NFL behind the Dolphins. And when they blitz, they do it well: their 45% blitz pressure rating ranks seventh.

The good news for the Cowboys is that Prescott threw an NFL record 23 touchdowns against the blitz last season, including three against the Buccaneers in Week 1. That included this absolute beauty for CeeDee Lamb just before being hit:

Offensive line isn’t the only revamped aspect of Cowboys offense: With Cleveland’s Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup not quite recovered from her torn ACL, Lamb will have to take on much of the Cowboys’ passing offense. Dallas will have to hope it can produce more games similar to the one above.

When the Buccaneers have the ball…

Bruce Arians may no longer be the Buccaneers’ head coach, but his “No Risk It, No Biscuit” deep passing offense will go nowhere with offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich still in Tampa. And that could spell trouble for the Cowboys: In that Week 1 game last season, Tom Brady went 6-for-12 for 165 yards on throws from at least 15 yards down the field with a touchdown and an interception ( the interception came on a Hail Mary to end the first half). Those 165 yards on throws from at least 15 yards down the field were Brady’s second in any game last year.

Who Brady is throwing those passes now is a big question. Five of the aforementioned six completions went to Rob Gronkowski, who retired, or Antonio Brown, who… well, did everything Antonio Brown did. The other went to Chris Godwin, who is a decision in game time. Brady has always been bolstered by the presence of Gronkowski – a formidable tight-end vertical threat – in midfield, which then opens things up on the outside. This will not be the case this year.

Brady led the league with 2,959 passing yards between the numbers last season — nearly 300 more than second-placed Patrick Mahomes. That’s one area he could look to exploit against Dallas. The Cowboys allowed 11.7 yards per completion on throws between the numbers last year, the fourth-worst mark in the NFL. Ultimately, there are a pair of questions that will be key in this game: Can anyone replace Gronkowski as Brady’s favorite deep middle threat? And can the Cowboys stop this area?

How to watch

Date: Sunday September 11 | Time: 8:20 p.m. ET
Location: AT&T Stadium (Arlington, TX)
TV: BNC | Flow: fuboTV (Click here)
Follow: CBS Sports app
Odds: Cowboys +2.5, O/U 50.5