The Kickoff Game Of The 2013 NFL Season – The World Champion Baltimore Ravens at The Denver Broncos – is just over 24 hours away, and with that the National Football League has issued a press release that consists of a summary of major storylines and rules changes. So, without any futher ado, here’s the NFL 2013:
BACK TO FOOTBALL!
The NFL returns this week and it’s time to get “Back to Football.” That means the next five months will be packed with the sizzle and suspense that comes only with the National Football League.
America’s favorite sport roars back into action Thursday night (NBC, 8:30 PM ET) in the first game of NFL Kickoff 2013 Weekend.
The opener features the Super Bowl champion BALTIMORE RAVENS visiting the DENVER BRONCOS at Sports Authority Field at Mile High in a rematch of last year’s double-overtime AFC Divisional Playoff Game.
Everybody is ready for the unique unpredictability of the NFL. And every team enters the new season with hope.
Last year, nearly 65 percent of the games were within one score (eight points or fewer) in the fourth quarter. And there were four new playoff teams in 2012: Indianapolis, Minnesota, Seattle and Washington. Since the 12-team playoff format was adopted in 1990, at least four teams have qualified for the playoffs in every season that were not in the postseason the year before.
The 2013 season promises more of the same. It’s time to get “Back to Football.”
As the 2013 NFL season kicks off, it comes packed with changes, quests and questions:
CAN THE SUPER BOWL CHAMPION RAVENS REPEAT?: It’s tough. It’s happened only eight times since the first Super Bowl in 1967. But the Ravens are up for the challenge. “We are legitimately one step closer to building what we’ve been talking about building,” says Ravens head coach JOHN HARBAUGH. “That’s always been the idea. The idea is to build that dynasty. That’s always been what we’ve said we’re trying to accomplish here and that’s the ultimate mission.”
MILESTONES ON THE HORIZON: Records are made to be broken…So what records will be set this year? Some milestones that can be reached this season: Denver QB PEYTON MANNING needs 566 attempts and 1,875 passing yards to move into second place all-time…New Orleans QB DREW BREES needs 30 TD passes to become the first player in NFL history with six consecutive 30-TD seasons…New England QB TOM BRADY (48 games) needs to throw a TD pass in each of his next seven games for the longest such streak in NFL history (54)…Minnesota RB ADRIAN PETERSON needs two 200-yard rushing games to tie for the most in NFL history (six)… Atlanta RB STEVEN JACKSON needs 1,000 rush yards to become the fourth player in NFL history to rush for 1,000 yards in nine consecutive seasons…Detroit WR CALVIN JOHNSON can become the first player in NFL history with three consecutive 1,600-yard receiving seasons…Atlanta TE TONY GONZALEZ needs 58 receptions to join Jerry Rice as the only players in NFL history with 1,300 catches…Oakland CB CHARLES WOODSON needs one interception-return TD to tie Rod Woodson (12) for the most all-time…and Chicago’s DEVIN HESTER needs one return TD (18) to tie Deion Sanders (19) for the most in NFL history.
NEW COACHES/PLAYERS IN NEW PLACES: There are eight new head coaches that were hired to lead their teams in 2013 – BRUCE ARIANS in Arizona, GUS BRADLEY in Jacksonville, ROB CHUDZINSKI in Cleveland, CHIP KELLY in Philadelphia, DOUG MARRONE in Buffalo, MIKE MC COY in San Diego, ANDY REID in Kansas City and MARC TRESTMAN in Chicago.
And there are a lot of well-known players with new teams, including quarterbacks CARSON PALMER with the Cardinals and ALEX SMITH with the Chiefs; running backs REGGIE BUSH with the Lions and STEVEN JACKSON with the Falcons; wide receivers ANQUAN BOLDIN with the 49ers, GREG JENNINGS with the Vikings, MIKE WALLACE with the Dolphins and WES WELKER with the Broncos; defensive backs DASHON GOLDSON and DARRELLE REVIS with the Buccaneers and ED REED with the Texans; and linebackers ELVIS DUMERVIL with the Ravens, DWIGHT FREENEY with the Chargers and JAMES HARRISON with the Bengals.
ON-THE-FIELD TRENDS IN 2012: Scoring at a 47-year high…comebacks galore…records falling…rookies making their mark…QBs excelling…and surprise teams continuing to emerge.
A record 11,651 points were scored, with games averaging 45.5 points, the highest average in 47 seasons (46.1 in 1965)…An NFL-record 139 return TDs were scored…Nine teams scored 400+ points, tying the mark set in 2008… The league-wide passer rating (85.6) and TD-INT ratio (1.62:1) were both all-time bests…Games averaged an NFL record 694.4 total net yards per game…There were 126 individual 300-yard passing games, the most ever…20 of 32 NFL teams (62.5 percent) started the same QB in every game, the most in a season since at least 1970…12 QBs had 25+ pass TDs and six QBs passed for 4,500+ yards, both records…DREW BREES threw a TD pass in an NFL-record 54 consecutive games…CALVIN JOHNSON set an NFL record with 1,964 receiving yards…ADRIAN PETERSON rushed for 2,097 yards, just nine shy of breaking the NFL record…Rookie QBs set rookie records with 46 wins, 20,300 passing yards, 105 TDs and 1,713 completions…There were 71 INT-TDs, the most ever in a season…Chicago had eight INT-TDs, tied for the second-most in NFL history…Nearly 65 percent of games were within one score in the fourth quarter…All four AFC division winners were repeat champions…Three of the four new playoff teams finished in last place in 2011, combining for a 21-win improvement, and since the 12-team playoff format was adopted in 1990, at least four new teams have qualified for the playoffs in every season…Washington rebounded to win its division after a last-place finish in 2011, marking the NFL-record 10th consecutive season a team went from “worst-to-first” in its division…And a record-tying 13 teams won 10+ games.
THE INTERNATIONAL NFL: In response to outstanding and growing fan support of football in the United Kingdom, the NFL will take an historic step in its international development in 2013 by playing two regular-season games at London’s Wembley Stadium for the first time. The Minnesota Vikings will face the Pittsburgh Steelers on September 29 and the Jacksonville Jaguars will meet the San Francisco 49ers on October 27. Closer to home, the Buffalo Bills will host the Atlanta Falcons on December 1 at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Canada.
NEW RULES: There are several new rules in 2013 with the primary focus on enhancing player safety.
Equipment: All players – with the exception of punters and kickers – will be wearing thigh and knee pads this season. This ensures an equality of competition.
Unnecessary roughness: Several adjustments were made to the unnecessary roughness rule in the interests of player safety. All unnecessary roughness violations result in a 15-yard penalty and may warrant discipline…It is illegal for a runner or tackler to initiate forcible contact by delivering a blow with the top or crown of his helmet against an opponent when both players are clearly outside the tackle box. This rule change is designed to protect not only the player receiving the blow, but also the player delivering it. There are three components for this foul to be enforced: (1) the player must line up his opponent; (2) he must lower his head; and (3) he must deliver a forcible blow with the crown of his helmet to any part of the defender’s body…Defensive players are prohibited from pushing down linemen into the offensive formation. The rules for low blocks have also been modified as part of this change. Going forward, the defense will be prohibited from blocking below the waist at any time during a down in which there is a scrimmage kick, which includes punts, field goals and PAT attempts…In 2010, defensive players were prohibited from lining up over the snapper on scrimmage kicks. That restriction is still in place. On field-goal and PAT attempts, the snapper has been afforded additional protections and will now be considered a defenseless player…Beginning in 2013, the peel-back block will be illegal anywhere in the field of play. Previously, this tactic was only illegal outside the tackle box.
Illegal formation: The defense cannot have more than six players on the line of scrimmage on either side of the snapper during kicking plays. This rule is designed to protect players who are in a vulnerable position. Violations of this rule will result in a five-yard penalty.
Instant replay: Plays may now be reviewed even if a head coach erroneously throws the challenge flag on plays that are subject to automatic review. If a coach challenges a scoring play, a turnover, a play that began inside the two-minute warning of either half or during an overtime period, that team will be automatically charged a timeout. If the team has no timeouts remaining, it will be assessed a 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Tuck rule: Any loss of control after a passer starts to tuck the ball back towards his body will be a fumble. Prior to this change, it was a pass until a passer tucked the ball all the way back into his body. Now the forward passing motion ends once a passer begins a tuck.
All rules that encourage player safety will continue to be strictly enforced, including players hitting opponents late around the pile and on the ground and runners grabbing the facemask of defensive players. In order to help players recognize when the play is over, game officials will be instructed to blow their whistles at the end of every play. All violations related to player safety are subject to potential fines and, in some instances, could lead to a suspension. The focus is on eliminating these tactics from the game.
Sportsmanship is always a point of emphasis. Officials have been instructed to pay particularly close attention to taunting. Directing verbal abuse at an opponent has no place in the NFL, and officials will be expected to set the tone by penalizing instigating players early in games. Spiking or spinning the ball in the direction of an opponent is also considered taunting.