Courtesy of WikiMediaCommons.
The National Football League tries to predict favorable matchups throughout the season for television ratings and this year’s schedule can be lightly described as “intriguing”
Opening Weekend: Reminder of Failure and Success
The Super Bowl Champions traditionally play on the Thursday to start the season. This year has the same tradition but the Super Bowl Champion Seahawks host the Green Bay Packers, victim of the “Fail Mary“, for the first time since that incident. With another primetime matchup between these two teams in Seattle, the NFL wants to make sure there is no controversy afterwards. This matchup will have the feel of a playoff game: Aaron Rodgers (XLV) and Russell Wilson (XLVIII) have won 2 of the last 4 Super Bowls. The regular season opens on Thursday, September 4, 2014 at 8:30 PM EST / 5:30 PM PST on NBC.
Intra-Divisional Matchups for Week 1
New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons, 1:00 PM EST / 10:00 AM PST, FOX
Notable information for this matchup:
- Safety Rafael Bush remains with the Saints after they matched the offer sheet offered to him by the Falcons.
- Offensive tackle Gabe Carimi signed with the Falcons to help improve their offensive line.
- Tony Gonzalez retired from the NFL after Team (Jerry) Rice defeated Team (Deion) Sanders 22-21 in the 2014 Pro Bowl. Gonzalez (Team Rice) had 3 catches for 50 yards in his final game, which commissioner Roger Goodell called “real football”.
- Devin Hester signed a 3-year contract this offseason to make a difference for the Falcons in the return game and possibly for the offense
- Jairus Byrd will make his Saints regular season debut in a Rob Ryan-coached defense after signing a 6-year contract.
- Brandin Cooks, 2014 1st round pick at WR, will make his New Orleans Saints regular season debut
- Jake Matthews, 2014 1st round pick at OT, will make his Atlanta Falcons regular season debut
Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers, 1:00 PM EST / 10:00 AM PST, CBS
Notable information for this matchup:
- The Browns were one of the busier teams in free agency, signing running back Ben Tate, wide receiver Andrew Hawkins, safety Donte Whitner, and linebacker Karlos Dansby.
- Hawkins was a restricted free agent for the Cincinnati Bengals, but Cincy did not match Cleveland’s offer sheet. The quarterback situation in Cleveland will answer itself over the coming months; Brian Hoyer should be starter going into offseason workouts, but the Browns drafted Johnny Manziel at pick #22.
- The Steelers also made some valuable free agency signings, including safety Mike Mitchell, wide receiver Lance Moore, defensive lineman Cam Thomas, and running back LeGarrette Blount.
- The Steelers have won 7 of the 8 matchups versus the Browns since the 2010 season. This new-look Steelers team looks to build off its late-season push last season after starting (0-4).
Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens, 1:00 PM EST / 10:00 AM PST, CBS
Notable information for this matchup:
- A quiet free agency for the Bengals has resulted in criticism; busy free agency for the Ravens has resulted in improvement
- Wide receiver Steve Smith and offensive tackle Eugene Monroe sign with Ravens; tight end Dennis Pitta, wide receiver Jacoby Jones and linebacker Daryl Smith re-sign with the team
- Head coaches with different stories: John Harbaugh (Ravens) looking to get back to Super Bowl glory, Marvin Lewis (Bengals) looking for his first playoff win (0-5).
New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins, 1:00 PM EST / 10:00 AM PST, CBS
Notable information for this matchup:
- Patriots sign cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner, wide receiver Brandon LaFell and re-signed wide receiver Julian Edelman.
- Dolphins sign offensive tackle Branden Albert, defensive tackle Randy Starks, cornerback Cortland Finnegan, and guard Shelley Smith.
- Tight end Rob Gronkowski is expected to return from his devastating ACL tear last season and make an instant impact.
- Both teams are expecting to find good talent in the draft, but due to past situations, both organizations will be more careful in their evaluations.
Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 4:25 PM EST / 1:25 PM PST, FOX
- Panthers with new look at wide receiver: sign Jerricho Cotchery, Jason Avant, and former Buccaneer Tiquan Underwood.
- Panthers draft WR Kelvin Benjamin in the 1st round and will make his regular season debut.
- Josh McCown signs with the team and will be the starter over Mike Glennon heading into offseason workouts
- Tampa Bay starts its season with Lovie Smith as their head coach and he has healthily changed the culture there.
- Cam Newton is looking to return to training camp earlier than expected after surgery.
Matchups of Intrigue
San Francisco 49ers at Dallas Cowboys, 4:25 PM EST / 1:25 PM PST
- Matchup between the two organizations that were annual NFC contenders in the 1990s
Indianapolis Colts at Denver Broncos, 8:30 PM EST / 5:30 PM PST, NBC
- The second matchup between the Andrew Luck led Colts and Peyton Manning led Broncos
New York Giants at Detroit Lions, Monday Night Football, 7:10 PM EST / 4:10 PM PST, ESPN
- The Giants may have been the busiest team in free agency, and the Lions will start the 2014 season with a new head coach in Jim Caldwell
San Diego Chargers at Arizona Cardinals, Monday Night Football, 10:20 PM EST / 7:20 PM PST, ESPN
- Both San Diego and Arizona had strong seasons in 2013 with 19 wins between the two teams, but both look to take the next step
Individual Matchups to Watch For
Week 1: Andrew Luck vs. Peyton Manning in Denver. Dexter McCluster makes his Titans debut against the Chiefs, his former team.
Week 2: The Pittsburgh Steelers take on the Baltimore Ravens in a rivalry matchup. Both teams missed the playoffs last season, marking the first time since 1999 where both did not make the postseason.
Week 3: DeSean Jackson and Washington travel Interstate 95 to play their division rival Philadelphia Eagles in Philadelphia for the first time since Jackson‘s release and signing.
Broncos visit Seahawks for a Super Bowl rematch.
Week 4: Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan visits the Cowboys to show them first-hand how much New Orleans has improved defensively
Week 5: Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith plays his old team in their new stadium in Santa Clara against his replacement Colin Kaepernick.
Week 6: Dallas Cowboys look to earn a high-quality win over the Super Bowl Champion Seahawks; Washington wide receiver Andre Roberts returns to Arizona to face his former teammates.
Week 7: San Francisco 49ers go to Denver to take on the Broncos in a primetime matchup; Miami Dolphins head to Chicago to take on former teammate Brandon Marshall and the Bears.
Week 8: Rematch of 2013’s Week 1 matchup between the Seahawks and Panthers; Drew Brees and the Saints host Aaron Rodgers and the Packers.
Week 9: Manning-Brady Bowl 16 between the Broncos and Patriots; Andrew Luck and Eli Manning face off in primetime as wide receiver Hakeem Nicks faces his old team for the first time.
Week 10: Andrew Hawkins and the Browns head to Cincinnati to face Hawkins‘ former teammates; rematch of 49ers and Saints, which involved a controversial “roughing the passer” penalty against San Francisco; wide receiver Jason Avant faces his former team when the Panthers visit the Eagles for Monday Night Football
Week 11: Chicago Bears host the Minnesota Vikings for the first time since signing defensive end Jared Allen; New England Patriots and Tom Brady take on the Indianapolis Colts and Andrew Luck; Steelers offensive line coach Mike Munchak coaches against the Tennessee Titans, his former team.
Week 12: The team that last defeated Seattle at CenturyLink Field tries to repeat that effort: Arizona Cardinals take on the Seahawks; starting quarterback Josh McCown, head coach Lovie Smith and the Buccaneers go to Chicago for the first time since Smith‘s firing and McCown‘s signing; Ravens play in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome since their Super Bowl victory, against the Saints.
Week 13: Robert Griffin III and Washington go to Indianapolis to face the Colts and Andrew Luck; Saints head to Pittsburgh to take on the Steelers and former teammate Lance Moore; Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers face off in a late-season bout; Thanksgiving weekend
Week 14: The football minds of Pete Carroll and Chip Kelly clash when the Seahawks head to Philadelphia; Trent Richardson runs against his former team when the Colts head to Cleveland. Quarterback Rusty Smith looks to get some playing time against the Titans, his former team, for the Giants
Week 15: the 49ers head to Seattle to finish their regular season matchups; Dallas tries to make its late-season push against the Eagles; wide receiver Lance Moore and the Pittsburgh Steelers host Moore‘s former team, the New Orleans Saints.
Week 16: Two Saturday matchups – Chargers head to San Francisco and Philadelphia visits DeSean Jackson‘s new team; cornerback Darrelle Revis plays against the team that drafted him when New England visits the rival Jets.
Week 17: All matchups are intra-divisional matchups with Jared Allen and Chicago hosting the Minnesota Vikings as the marquee matchup.
Thursday Night Football Matchups
- Week 1: Green Bay Packers at Seattle Seahawks, September 4, 2014 at 8:30 PM EST / 5:30 PM PST on NBC.
- Week 2: Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens, September 11, 2014 at 8:25 PM EST / 5:25 PM PST on CBS and NFL Network
- Week 3: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons, September 18 at 8:25 PM EST / 5:25 PM PST on CBS and NFL Network
- Week 4: New York Giants at Washington, September 25 at 8:25 PM EST / 5:25 PM PST on CBS and NFL Network
- Week 5: Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers, October 2 at 8:25 PM EST / 5:25 PM PST on CBS and NFL Network
- Week 6: Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans, October 9 at 8:25 PM EST / 5:25 PM PST on CBS and NFL Network
- Week 7: New York Jets at New England Patriots, October 16 at 8:25 PM EST / 5:25 PM PST on CBS and NFL Network
- Week 8: San Diego Chargers at Denver Broncos, October 23 at 8:25 PM EST / 5:25 PM PST on CBS and NFL Network
- Week 9: New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers, October 30 at 8:25 PM EST / 5:25 PM PST on NFL Network
- Week 10: Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals, November 6 at 8:25 PM EST / 5:25 PM PST on NFL Network
- Week 11: Buffalo Bills at Miami Dolphins, November 13 at 8:25 PM EST / 5:25 PM PST on NFL Network
- Week 12: Kansas City Chiefs at Oakland Raiders, November 20 at 8:25 PM EST / 5:25 PM PST on NFL Network
- Week 13 (Thanksgiving):
Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions, November 27 at 12:30 PM EST / 9:30 AM PST on CBS
Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys, November 27 at 4:30 PM EST / 1:30 PM PST on FOX
Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers, November 27 at 8:30 PM EST / 5:30 PM PST on NBC
- Week 14: Dallas Cowboys at Chicago Bears, December 4 at 8:25 PM EST / 5:25 PM PST on NFL Network
- Week 15: Arizona Cardinals at St. Louis Rams, December 11 at 8:25 PM EST / 5:25 PM PST on NFL Network
- Week 16: Tennessee Titans at New York Jets, December 18 at 8:25 PM EST / 5:25 PM PST on NFL Network
Full Schedule by Week
- View the full list of Week 1 matchups
- View the full list of Week 2 matchups
- View the full list of Week 3 matchups
- View the full list of Week 4 matchups
- View the full list of Week 5 matchups
- View the full list of Week 6 matchups
- View the full list of Week 7 matchups
- View the full list of Week 8 matchups
- View the full list of Week 9 matchups
- View the full list of Week 10 matchups
- View the full list of Week 11 matchups
- View the full list of Week 12 matchups
- View the full list of Week 13 matchups
- View the full list of Week 14 matchups
- View the full list of Week 15 matchups
- View the full list of Week 16 matchups
- View the full list of Week 17 matchups