The day has come, the NFL has finally released the 2014 schedule for the upcoming season. And the very first game of the season should be a good one. The Green Bay Packers will go to Seattle, in a game the NFL is titling, “Revenge of the Fail Mary.” Most of you will remember that game ended with a controversial touchdown call, by one of the replacement refs. A game Seattle won and probably wouldn't have, if it weren't for the replacements refs.
Here we will highlight the marquee match-ups occurring throughout all 17 weeks of the 2014 NFL regular season.
As I previously stated, the NFL season will kick off on Thursday, when the Green Bay Packers play the Seattle Seahawks. But that is not the only noteworthy match-up.
The San Francisco 49ers will go to AT&T stadium to play the Dallas Cowboys. Now why is this relevant? Between 1992 and 1995, the Cowboys and 49ers played one another in the NFC championship game and each time the winner went on to become Super Bowl champs. Ever since then, at least for me, whenever they play each other, I circle it on my calendar. The last time the Cowboys and 49ers met, was during the regular season in 2012 and the Dallas Cowboys came away with a victory in overtime at Candlestick Park.
The last great match-up of the week, will be played between the Denver Broncos and Indianapolis Colts on Sunday night football. This will be the second time Peyton has had to go against his former team, last year when they played, the Colts won in a nail biter, 39-33, in Indianapolis. This time around, the Colts will be traveling to Denver.
Week 2 will kick-off with a bang. When the Pittsburgh Steelers go to Baltimore to face the Ravens. A game that used to be considered the best rivalry in football, now that arguably belongs to the Seahawks and 49ers. Both teams will look to improve on their 8-8 season from 2013. Hopefully we see this intense rivalry renewed.
Another divisional game, which should be a good one, will be played between the Denver Broncos and the Kansas City Chiefs. The Broncos took both meetings last year, in what turned out to be some close games.
The best match-up of week 3 and one a lot of people will be circling, is going to be the Denver Broncos at the Seattle Seahawks. A rematch of Super Bowl XVLII, where the Seahawks destroyed the Broncos, 43-8. Peyton Manning will be looking to get redemption after one of the worst performances of his career.
The other key matchup for that week is the going to be the return of DeSean Jackson to Philadelphia, when we see the Eagles take on the Redskins. The Eagles released DeSean Jackson earlier this month, after they attempted to trade him and were unsuccessful. Jackson had the best year of his career last year, which made people wonder what the motivation behind releasing him was and we still haven’t gotten an honest answer. There were rumors flying around about gang affiliations and about how DeSean Jackson had been a locker room distraction. Regardless of what really was the cause, DeSean himself will undoubtedly be looking forward to this game, along with me and the legions of NFL fans.
The Green Bay Packers travel to Chicago to play the Bears in week this week 4 match-up. In which DE Julius Peppers, now with the Packers, will go against his former team and Safety, M.D. Jennings, now with the Bears, will get to face his former teammates. Those match-ups aside, these divisional opponent’s always play one another tough, which should make for a fun game to watch.
The Sunday night game, we will get to see The New Orleans Saints at The Dallas Cowboys and the return of defensive coordinator, Rob Ryan. Ryan was fired from the Cowboys after they had one of the worst seasons defensively in 2013, due in most part to a squad depleted by injuries. Ryan joined the Saints not too long after his departure from Dallas and almost instantly improved their defense from the previous year, where they allowed a record breaking 7,042 yards, a stat previously held by Baltimore Colts.
In week 5 The Kansas City Chiefs travel to Santa Clara to face the San Francisco 49ers. A game where we get to see Alex Smith, former first round draft pick, selected first overall by the 49ers in the 2005 NFL draft go against his former team. Smith lost his starting Job with the 49ers to now starter Colin Kaepernick, when Smith got a concussion in a game against the St. Louis Rams. Smith was traded after the 2012 NFL season to the Chiefs for a 2nd round draft pick that year and conditional draft pick in 2013.
Sunday night we will see a repeat match-up from last year, The Cincinnati Bengals at The New England Patriots. A game which the Patriots lost, 13-6 and one which you can be sure Tom Brady has marked down. Brady doesn’t forget.
Week 6’s match-ups, at least right now, don’t have really have a cool story line attached to any of them. But some games that have some potential to be good are, the Seahawks at the Cowboys, the 49ers at the Rams, the Chargers at the Raiders and the Bears at the Falcons.
Week 7 starts off with a bang, in a game that is always fun to watch, the New England Patriots visit their division rival, the New York Jets. The Patriots added former Bucs and Jets CB, Darrelle Revis. It will be Revis’s second game back in MetLife Stadium. Revis played the Jets last year while he was still on the Bucs, a game in which they subsequently lost, 18-17.
Another good Sunday night game will pair the San Francisco 49ers against the Denver Broncos. A game which has the potential to be a possible Super Bowl match-up. Not to mention, the 49ers were one of the few final teams that had a legit shot at signing veteran QB Peyton Manning, after his departure from the Indianapolis Colts.
On the Thursday night game, we will see Phillip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers go to Denver to take on Peyton Manning and the Broncos. The Chargers were the only team last year to beat the Broncos in Denver. Will we see a repeat? I don’t know, but one thing is for sure, I’ll be watching.
In another repeat match-up, The Seattle Seahawks will have to go to Carolina for the second year in a row and play the Panthers. A game which really put the Panthers on the map last year, when they nearly beat the Super Bowl champs, only losing 12-7.
NBC gets what should be another tremendous game, where the Green Bay Packers will square off against the New Orleans Saints. Two potential contenders for the NFC title and two of the best quarterbacks in the game today, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees. Should be a good one.
The marquee match-up in week 9, the Denver Broncos at the New England Patriots, is a re-match of the AFC title game from last year. A game where Tom Brady did not play his best football to say the least. Both the Broncos and Patriots have added some weapons to their “arsenals” on both sides of the ball. The Manning-Brady Bowl is back!
The Baltimore Ravens and the Steelers meet again, a game which could help to decide the victor of the AFC north, in what promises to be a hard hitting match-up.
Hands down the best game of this week, will happen when the San Francisco 49ers trek to New Orleans to take on Drew Brees and the Saints. Another great re-match from last year, a game the Saints ended up winning, 23-20. A contest that could be a factor in playoff seeding down the road.
A couple other games that have some potential, the Chicago Bears at the Green Bay Packers and the Carolina Panthers at the Philadelphia Eagles. Two more games between NFC contenders.
The Game of the week is the Sunday night game, where we will see Andrew Luck and the Colts take on Tom Brady and Patriots, a game which NFL.Com is calling “Old guard meets new guard.” A re-match from the 2012 regular season, a game the Patriots were victorious in, winning 59-24.
The Vikings and Bears game will be Jarred Allens first time in a Bears uniform going against his former team, the Vikings. Allen is a 10 year veteran and currently has 128.5 career sacks. Allen will be looking to take down whoever is the signal caller for the Vikings, in week 11.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the Chicago Bears will be the first time, Lovie Smith, the once longtime head coach for the Bears will be going up against his former team. Not to mention former Bears QB Josh McCown, who took over for Jay Cutler last year, after Cutler got hurt. McCown helped to keep the Bears in contention last year and signed with the Buccaneers in the offseason as a free agent.
The Sunday night game, will pair “Americas” team, the Dallas Cowboys against the New York Giants in a divisional game at the meadowlands. Eli Manning, looks to bounce back after a terrible season, where he threw a career high 27 interceptions.
Easily the game of the week and month. Has the Seattle Seahawks traveling to the brand new Levi’s stadium, to face the San Francisco 49ers. A re-match of the NFC title game, which the Seahawks won on a last second interception from Richard Sherman. A game just in time for everyone to sit down, eat Thanksgiving Day dinner and enjoy the show.
The best game over the weekend pairs two future hall of famers against each other, Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers. A match-up that promises to be a high scoring affair.
The battle of the bay, the San Francisco 49ers at the Oakland Raiders. A game they used to play every pre-season, until some unfortunate events back in 2011, where a 49ers fan got shot. The last time both teams met in the regular season, was in 2010, a game the 49ers won, 17-9.
The Sunday night game pairs the New England Patriots and San Diego Chargers, two teams that met on a couple occasions in playoffs, throughout the 2000’s. Match-ups which the Patriots won both times.
The best rivalry in football, two out of three weeks? Don’t mind if I do. This time the San Francisco 49ers go on the road to the Clink to try and do something that only the Arizona Cardinals were able to do last year, beat the Seahawks at home.
Late in the season we get the Saints at the Bears, which could decide how the playoffs are seeded. Plus, the Cowboys at the Eagles, a game that could factor in deciding the winner of the NFC East.
We see the first Saturday games of the season, when the San Diego Chargers play the San Francisco 49ers. Two California teams, that played in each other in the Super Bowl, all the way back in 1994. The last time the Chargers went to the big game and the last time the 49ers won it all.
In the second meeting of the minds, Belicheck and Ryan go at it one more time. A game NFL.Com is calling “Jets visit Revis Island.” Hopefully the weather is nice. J
The final week of the regular season, where every game is a divisional one. Where a lot of games will decide who will keep playing and who will be going fishing. The Carolina Panthers at the Atlanta Falcons, will Cam Newton make it back to the playoffs? Or will Matt Ryan and the Falcons bounce back and have good year?
The Arizona Cardinals at the San Francisco 49ers. Are the Cardinal’s going to miss the playoffs with a 10 win season again, because they play in the best division in football? And can the 49ers finally get to their “quest for six.”
Here is a list of every game from week 17, because let’s face it, a lot of these games can and will be important:
Carolina at Atlanta
Detroit at Green Bay
Indianapolis at Tennessee
San Diego at Kansas City
NY Jets at Miami
Chicago at Minnesota
Buffalo at New England
Philadelphia at NY Giants
Cincinnati at Pittsburgh
New Orleans at Tampa Bay
Dallas at Washington
Cleveland at Baltimore
Jacksonville at Houston
Oakland at Denver
Arizona at San Francisco
St. Louis at Seattle
A couple other side notes. Thursday night games are going to be split up this year, half of the games will air on the NFL network and the other half will be on CBS.
The flex schedule is back, but it will come into effect much earlier than it did last season. Starting week five games can be flexed into the Sunday night game. If you’re unfamiliar with the flexing schedule, it’s there so the NFL can move games that only occur on Sunday afternoon, to the Sunday night game to avoid “lackluster” matchups.
The league also added something called the “cross flex” and that will allow them to move games between CBS and FOX, say if one network happens to have all of the intriguing matchups one particular week.
If I missed any matchups that you think are going to be instant classics, let me know in the comments.
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