x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Omens are good for exciting season of NFL

No off-season workouts. Compacted training camps. Rookies at key positions. Conditions were ripe for an unusual first week of the season. What the NFL got was bizarre.

No off-season workouts. Compacted training camps. Rookies at key positions. Conditions were ripe for an unusual first week of the season. What the NFL got was bizarre.

Defying assumptions that the abbreviated preparation period would unduly impact offences, passers and receivers played pitch-and-catch to their hearts' content, racking up a one-week record of 7,842 yards.

Nearly half (14 of 32) of the starting quarterbacks exceeded 300 passing yards. Only three did it on the opening weekend in 2010.

Four throwers in the 300 club further separated themselves by eclipsing 400 yards. Unsung Chad Henne of Miami, with 416, might have created league-wide buzz any other week. But, on the same field, Tom Brady of New England surpassed his total by 101 yards. Elsewhere, in his NFL coming-out party, Cameron Newton of Carolina threw for 422 yards.

A 300-yard day, long considered the gold standard, might soon become the routine.

Two other statistical categories generated eye-popping numbers.

When they were not celebrating completions, passers spent considerable time on their backs, sacked 89 times - the most ever registered in an opening week.

Return men did their record-setting part for Week 1 by taking back eight kick-offs or punts for touchdowns.

More passing, more sacks, more long kick returns. Exciting plays, all. By the looks of things, proponents of wide-open football are going to love this season.