The NFL has released in 2014 schedule and the defending Super Bowl champions, the Seattle Seahawks will kick off their title defense Thursday September 4 against the Green Bay Packers at CenturyLink Field.
As usual the 2014 schedule offers up some great story lines and drama and these are the top 10 games you won’t want to miss.
Indianapolis Colts at Denver Broncos
Sunday, Sept. 7, 8:30 p.m.
Colts quarterback Andrew Luck won the first matchup with his predecessor, throwing three touchdown passes to help knock Peyton Manning and the Broncos from the unbeaten ranks in Week 7 last season. The rematch sends Luck to Denver, where the Broncos will try to begin their AFC title defense on the right foot — and let their revamped defense send an early message they’re a more complete team this time around.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens
Thursday, Sept. 11, 8:25 p.m.
Last time these teams met, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin ignited controversy (and later was fined $100,000) for interfering with a Jacoby Jones kick return. Pittsburgh lost that Thanksgiving night game anyway, thanks to Emmanuel Sanders’ two-point conversion drop. But the Ravens surely haven’t forgotten how close Tomlin’s, uh, foot fault came to costing them a win over their AFC North rivals. He probably shouldn’t expect a cheery reception in Baltimore.
Washington Redskins at Philadelphia Eagles
Sunday, Sept. 21, 1 p.m.
It wasn’t DeSean Jackson’s choice to leave the Eagles, who released the dynamic receiver in a surprise move. But that doesn’t mean Eagles fans will cut Jackson slack now that he’s playing for the NFC East rival Redskins – and he surely wants to stick it to Philadelphia coach Chip Kelly (twice). The Redskins hired their own offensive-minded head coach, Jay Gruden, who can rest assured Jackson will be motivated and figures to give him plenty of opportunities.
Denver Broncos at Seattle Seahawks
Sunday, Sept. 21, 4:25 p.m.
The Seahawks and their elite defense snuffed out the Broncos and their record-breaking offense in Super Bowl XLVIII. Broncos personnel boss John Elway responded this offseason by putting big money into his own D, signing safety T.J. Ward, cornerback Aqib Talib and pass rusher DeMarcus Ware. You can bet Manning and company will feel Denver has something to prove in this one. For the Seahawks, it’s a chance to reiterate their title romp was no fluke.
Carolina Panthers at Baltimore Ravens
Sunday, Sept. 28, 1 p.m.
Steve Smith promised “blood and guts” when the veteran receiver faces the Panthers team that cut him. And if anybody is going to deliver on a promise of physical play, it’s Smith, who quickly signed a three-year, $10.5 million with the Ravens (on top of the $5 million Carolina still must pay him this year). Cam Newton and the Panthers will try to counter with their new-look receiving corps, led by … Jerricho Cotchery and Jason Avant?
Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears
Sunday, Sept. 28, 1 p.m.
Last season, the NFC North title was decided by the league’s most-played rivalry in Week 17, in large part because Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers got hurt in the first meeting. Rodgers returned for the finale and fired a 48-yard touchdown on fourth-and-8 for the win. Former Bears pass rusher Julius Peppers now wears green and gold. Peppers’ replacement in Chicago, former Minnesota Vikings star Jared Allen, gets his first crack at his old team Nov. 16 at Soldier Field.
New York Jets at New England Patriots
Thursday, Oct. 16, 8:25 p.m.
Star cornerback Darrelle Revis spent his first six NFL seasons with the Jets, who wanted him back after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers cut him last month. Instead, Revis signed what amounts to a one-year, $12 million deal with the AFC East rival Patriots, giving him two chances to lock down the Jets’ big free-agent acquisition, receiver Eric Decker. The question is, who will be throwing passes to Decker by the time these teams meet? Geno Smith and/or Michael Vick will be key to the Jets’ hopes of ending a three-year playoff drought.
Denver Broncos at New England Patriots
Sunday, Nov. 2, 4:25 p.m.
The Patriots’ comeback win last November was the regular season’s signature game, even if the Broncos did exact postseason revenge in Denver. Now Tom Brady and Peyton Manning meet at Foxboro again in what could be another AFC playoff preview. Manning is 38. Brady will be 37 in August. They’re the two best quarterbacks of their generation, and they may not have many meetings left. The fact both teams made bold moves to upgrade their rosters in the offseason only makes this one bigger.
Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers
Thursday, Nov. 27, 8:30 p.m.
What a way to wrap a loaded Thanksgiving slate that also includes Bears-Lions and Eagles-Cowboys. The NFC West rivals remain two of the most complete teams in football. Last year’s conference title game was a classic. And there’s plenty of bad blood left over – particularly between Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman and 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree. Emotions will be running high in both matchups, and these two games could decide who has home field throughout the NFC playoffs. The rematch is 17 days later in Seattle.
Dallas Cowboys at Washington Redskins
Sunday, Dec. 28, 1 p.m.
If recent history is any guide, the Cowboys figure to be playing for the NFC East title. And if recent history is any guide, America’s Team will find some new way to let it slip away. Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo is 34 years old and running out of chances to show he can do the job in the postseason. Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III is 24 and hoping for a rebirth under Gruden. The Week 17 slate isn’t exceptional on paper, but this one could be big.