A week from today, the football world will be discussing what transpired in the previous night's opening matchup between the Packers and Seahawks.

The regular season is finally here -- well, almost.

To get a handle on what's in store in the months ahead, below are 10 numbers that matter for the 2014 NFL season.

7.44 - The average projected win total this year for opponents of the Houston Texans, according to Bovada. There are several different ways to calculate strength of schedule, but going strictly off of the previous year's win/loss records is misguided because so much changes in the offseason.

Bovada released win totals for all 32 teams a couple weeks ago. These take several factors into account -- free agency, the draft, regression, injuries, coaching changes, etc. We decided to drop these projected win totals into a spreadsheet to find out which team has the easiest and most difficult strength of schedule according to Vegas. (Full disclosure: This is not an original idea. Others have used this method in the past.)

The numbers show that based on Vegas' projected win totals, the Texans have the easiest projected schedule in the league, followed by the Titans (7.72), Steelers (7.88) and Colts (7.88). Not far behind are the Patriots (7.91), Browns (7.91) and Ravens (7.91).

8.72 - On the flip side of the Texans are the Arizona Cardinals. They have the most difficult schedule in the league, according to Vegas, with an average opponent win total of 8.72.

Guess who's next? The Oakland Raiders at 8.59. Even though they finished with a 4-12 record last season, they have the second-toughest schedule.

The Panthers (8.56), Vikings (8.50), Rams (8.47), 49ers (8.44) and Bucs (8.44) also face challenging slates.

13 - The number of teams that finished last season with two different quarterbacks having started at least three games apiece. That's nearly 41 percent of the league.

It's become trendy for analysts to label QBs as injury-prone, but the truth is it's just difficult to find a guy who can last all 16 games without going down. That's why many coaches seem as obsessed as ever with finding backup options who can keep their teams afloat.

Of the 13 teams cited, only two made the postseason: the Packers and Eagles.

4 - The number of players in NFL history who have notched a 19-sack season before their 24th birthday. Kansas City's Derrick Thomas did it in 1990. Two years ago, Aldon Smith and J.J. Watt had 19.5 and 20.5 sacks, respectively.

In 2013, Rams defensive end Robert Quinn joined the club. For the purposes of this exercise, we took a closer look at all 19 of his sacks from last season, and a few things stand out. Quinn is a master at firing off the ball, using his hands to combat offensive tackles and getting around the edge. Ten of his 19 sacks came on edge rushes where he beat the left tackle cleanly to the outside.

And Quinn knows how to finish. He has 34-inch arms, and when he gets near the quarterback, it's over. Quinn finished second in the NFL with seven forced fumbles last season.

On four of the sacks, offenses committed more than one blocker to Quinn, and he still got to the quarterback. In addition to length and speed, he plays with a relentless nature.  

The best example of that is this Week 15 sack against the Saints. You can see Quinn is set up at right defensive end, wide of the tackle. New Orleans stations tight end Jimmy Graham over him for some help.


Graham does a fantastic job with his chip, knocking Quinn inside.


The left guard has him under control and actually takes him to the ground.



At this point in the play, it appears the Saints' strategy has worked perfectly. But Drew Brees can't find a receiver and steps up in the pocket. Quinn could have easily given up on the play once he was on the ground, but instead he gets up, extends his arms and knocks the ball out of Brees' hand.


That's a big boy play right there. Quinn forced the fumble and recovered it.

Going forward, offenses will commit plenty of resources to slowing Quinn down, but having just turned 24 in May, he's poised for another monster season.

3 - The number of wide receivers who posted 80-plus catches, 16.0 YPR and at least nine touchdowns last season.

The names: Calvin Johnson, Josh Gordon and DeSean Jackson. None of those receivers are older than 28, yet two of three face uncertain futures.

Gordon's one-year suspension has been upheld by the league. Jackson, meanwhile, is tasked with building chemistry with Robert Griffin III and learning how to be productive in Jay Gruden's scheme after his career year with the Eagles.

As for Johnson? Well, it's probably safe to bank on him hitting the 80/16/9 mark for the third time in four seasons.

46.7 - Geno Smith's accuracy percentage on balls that traveled 20 yards or more downfield, according to Pro Football Focus. That includes completions and balls that were on-target, but dropped by Jets receivers. Smith was third-best in the deep ball category, behind only Russell Wilson (48.3 percent) and Peyton Manning (48.2 percent).

Now for the bad news. In the past five years, only three quarterbacks have had a season in which they attempted at least 400 passes and posted a passer rating of 67.0 or below: Smith (2013), Mark Sanchez (2012) and Blaine Gabbert (2011).

Smith didn't have much of a supporting cast as a rookie, but clearly there's plenty to work on. If offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg feels like stressing the positive, though, he can point to Smith's accuracy downfield.

30 - The percentage of plays where the Seahawks pressured the quarterback while only rushing four defenders, according to the Football Outsiders Almanac. No other team was higher than 23 percent.

Seattle's defensive backfield gets a ton of credit, and rightfully so. But it's a luxury for defensive coordinators when they don't have to scheme pressure with extra defenders. The Seahawks only blitzed (defined here as five defenders or more) 27.9 percent of the time, yet they still led the league in overall pressure percentage (34.4 percent).

417 - The number of passing attempts by the San Francisco 49ers last year. That ranked dead last in the NFL.

But there are several signs suggesting that number is going to take a jump in 2014 - the main one being that the 49ers are going to have to score more points to win games.

San Francisco's defense finished 13th in Football Outsiders' DVOA rankings last year. It now sounds like they could be without Aldon Smith for six to eight games. Linebacker Navorro Bowman has been placed on the PUP list and will miss the first part of the season. And defensive lineman Glenn Dorsey has been sidelined with a torn biceps.

Colin Kaepernick has started 23 regular-season games and tossed 31 touchdowns against 11 interceptions. He has a solid group of pass-catchers in Michael Crabtree, Vernon Davis, Stevie Johnson and Anquan Boldin. This is the year he's unleashed and gives us a better idea of what his ceiling might be.

36 - The number of quarterback hits notched by J.J. Watt, according to the Football Outsiders Almanac. No other defensive player had more than 21. On a team that finished with the worst record in the league and lost 14 games in a row, Watt still produced 10.5 sacks and seven batted passes.

Houston's defense was not good last year, but the Texans weren't horrible either. They finished 18th in DVOA on that side of the football.

It's not often that teams coming off of 2-14 seasons warrant a lot of attention - especially early in the season. But seeing how the Texans' defense looks with Jadeveon Clowney teaming up with Watt will be fascinating.

6.8 - The average finish of Lovie Smith's defenses in Football Outsiders' DVOA rankings. Smith was the Rams defensive coordinator from 2001 to 2003 and the Bears head coach from 2004 to 2012. During that 12-year span, only two of his defenses failed to finish in the top 10, and six finished in the top five.

Now the head coach in Tampa, Smith has some nice tools to work with on a defense that ended up finishing eighth in DVOA last year. Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy is coming off a 9.5-sack All-Pro year. Lavonte David has emerged as one of the top linebackers in the NFL. The team signed cornerback Alterraun Verner and defensive end Michael Johnson in free agency.

There are still plenty of questions on offense (this can be said for any team that takes a look at Richie Incognito), but the Bucs are going to give opposing offenses fits this season.


Sheil Kapadia covers the Eagles for Philly Mag. You can follow @SheilKapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.