Last night, the 2014 NFL schedule was released & we now know where all of the 32 NFL teams will be playing, what network & what time they will play those games this upcoming season. There are some changes this year, however; there is a new Thursday Night Football game on CBS Sports & the NFL Network, with the CBS games airing weeks 2-9 & the NFL Network will have exclusive rights through the rest of the season.
The NFL Thanksgiving games for the first time will be completely one conference with the Chicago Bears visiting the Detroit Lions, the Philadelphia Eagles will visit the Dallas Cowboys on CBS & the Seattle Seahawks will make their first visit to Levi’s Stadium to take on the San Francisco 49ers in the first match up of the division rivals since the 2013 NFC Championship game where the Seahawks beat the 49ers to go to the SuperBowl & Richard Sherman became a household name for this little rant on Michael Crabtree –
Also, there will be some great quarterback matchups where Peyton Manning will go up against Tom Brady & Andrew Luck, while Brady will go up against Aaron Rodgers in a game where 2 of the 3 most cerebral & high tempo offenses will be back on the field against each other as the Green Bay Packers take on the New England Patriots.
With the big games out of the way, the DraftKingsMaster will breakdown the entire NFL Schedule week by week by highlighting the key games of that particular week.
NFL – Week 1
The kickoff of the NFL season always features a few high-powered matchups to get the fans going & to get that interest at the highest level it will be at all year until the end of the season as the playoff run is coming through. Here are some of the top games for the first week of the NFL season.
Thursday Night Game – Green Bay Packers @ Seattle Seahawks – 8:30 – NBC
This is the SuperBowl Champions game where the banner will be raised, & no doubt, the 12th man will be going insane all night long, especially with the history with the Packers and the “Fail Mary” game in 2012 where Golden Tate allegedly caught a hail mary pass from Russell Wilson in the back of the endzone, when clearly he didn’t.
The Green Bay Packers will be looking for a bounce back season after being knocked out of the playoffs by Colin Kaepernick & the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Wildcard round. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers will be healthy & ready to go, & this will be the debut of new DE Julius Peppers to anchor a defensive unit that will feature another great pass rusher in LB Clay Matthews.
New Orleans Saints @ Atlanta Falcons – Sunday, 1:00 p.m – CBS
The Saints are coming back loaded with Jimmy Graham & Drew Brees leading a high-powered offense into 2014. The team suffered a blow by losing RB Darren Sproles from the position that gave them a home-run hitter anytime he was in the game.
The Atlanta Falcons will be recovering after the loss of TE Tony Gonzalez, who retired after 16 Hall-of-Fame worthy seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs & the Falcons. The Falcons bring most of their main skill players back on the outside in Julio Jones & Roddy White. Both of those receivers will need to have big seasons if the Falcons are going to take the next step & get back to the NFC Championship game the way they were in 2012. RB Stephen Jackson will look to bounce back after a subpar year where Jackson never really looked as though he was comfortable in the Falcon offensive unit.
These are the two best teams in the NFC South this year & it looks like later on the season, these two teams will be competing for that division crown.
San Francisco 49ers @ Dallas Cowboys – Sunday, 4:25 P.M. FOX
This is a throwback to the old school 49ers/Cowboys games in the 90s that featured names like Steve Young, Jerry Rice, Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, Michael Irvin, Brent Jones, Jay Novacek & others.
This matchup will features names such as Dez Bryant, Tony Romo, Colin Kaepernick, & Anquan Boldin.
The 49ers will be looking to bounce back after losing in the NFC Championship game to the Seattle Seahawks. Colin Kaepernick is another year wiser in the Jim Harbaugh system of play & after the 49ers crazy offseason with many issues off the field with Kaepernick, DE Aldon Smith, & select others, the 49ers will need to get locked in & focused during the training camp & preseason. The defense will take a hit without Navarro Bowman, who is still recovering after shredding his ACL in the NFC Championship game, but the team is still anchored by Pro Bowl LB Patrick Willis.
The Cowboys are always a story no matter what, whether its meltdowns on the sidelines from Dez Bryant, Tony Romo being either injured or being intercepted or being compared to Roger Staubach & other great Cowboys players, or just fans wanting a change at QB & believing that Romo may not be the right guy to lead the franchise to a SuperBowl. The team lost their unquestioned leader & one of the best defensive players in the league in DeMarcus Ware, who signed with Denver in the offseason. The team lost Miles Austin, who has had 2 unproductive seasons in 2012 & 2013, mainly because of injuries, but in the NFL, if you aren’t on the field, you aren’t an asset to the franchise.
Indianapolis Colts @ Denver Broncos – Sunday Night Football – 8:30 – NBC
This game is a rematch of last season when Peyton Manning went back to Indianapolis for the first time since signing with the Broncos in 2012 after years with the Colts. Andrew Luck & the Colts beat Manning last year in Indianapolis in a game that was hyped as the biggest game all season long in the regular season, which it may very well have been.
The Colts have mainly stayed in tact after their improbable AFC Wildcard victory against the Kansas City Chiefs. The team will be looking to RB Trent Richardson to be more comfortable in the Colts offense last year after being non-existent when he was traded over from the Cleveland Browns.
The Broncos are coming off of their embarrassing SuperBowl loss against the Seahawks, but have loaded up very nicely with CB Aqib Talib coming in from New England & DE DeMarcus Ware coming over from years with the Dallas Cowboys. GM John Elway is doing everything possible to help Manning gear up for one more SuperBowl run before Manning retires.
New York Giants @ Detroit Lions – Monday Night Football – 8:30 – ESPN
This game, as an avid Detroit Lions fan, will be one of the most anticipated games in the city of Detroit’s history. It may be treated with as much energy as Detroit Tigers Opening Day. The Lions are coming in with much to prove this coming season. A new coach is in place in Jim Caldwell, Matthew Stafford has to step up & improve & Calvin Johnson is healthy & ready to go back to being the dominant receiver again.
The Lions replaced WR Nate Burleson with former Seattle Seahawks WR Golden Tate, who is younger & is more dynamic of a receiver at this point in his career than Burleson. The defense, which may have more questions answered in the NFL Draft, will be anchored no matter what by NDamukong Suh & Nick Fairley at the DT position.
The New York Giants are trying to hang on to as much glory as possible from the old days with Eli Manning, Victor Cruz & a bunch of random guys. The team still has Jason Pierre-Paul & with Justin Tuck now with the Raiders, Pierre-Paul will be looked at to be the leader of the Giants defense. As for Manning, no matter what, he has to cut down significantly on interceptions this year, as he led the NFL by a wide margin last year. Manning didn’t have much protection, but many of his throws were not even close to being elite level throws, which many people feel as though he can make because of his 2 SuperBowl wins.
Going up against the Lions defense that loves to pass rush & make life difficult on the quarterback will not be welcomed by Manning or the Giants offensive line.
Keep your eye on the DraftKingsMaster later on when we break down Week 2 of the NFL season.