Best Week 1 games, thoughts on the NFL schedule release
The 2014 NFL schedule was released officially Wednesday night with several juicy matchups on tap for Week 1 and beyond. Check out some initial observations for the Denver Broncos, San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs here, as well as general thoughts on the season's opening week:
Best Week 1 games:
1. Indianapolis Colts at Denver Broncos (Sunday Night Football)
Sunday night has been reserved for the best games the last few seasons and the Week 1 matchup won't disappoint. After the student beat the master in one of the best games of the 2013 season, Peyton Manning will get another shot at his Indy heir in Denver. It's odd to pass up a Super Bowl rematch between the Broncos and Seahawks, but this isn't a bad consolation prize.
2. Green Bay Packers at Seattle Seahawks (Thursday Night Football)
The opener to the 2014 season should be an explosive one, pitting Aaron Rodgers against Russell Wilson in a rematch of the botched "Fail Mary" replacement referees game in 2012. The Seahawks' defense gave Manning fits in the Super Bowl, making this even more intriguing to see how Rodgers counters.
3. Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens
A division matchup that never gets old after the two split last season's series with alternating wins at home. The Bengals will look to rebound from a playoff exit to the Chargers and the Ravens will be out to prove they can start the season off strong to build toward a return to the playoffs.
Other intriguing games: Chargers at Cardinals (Monday Night Football), Patriots at Dolphins
Best Denver Broncos games:
1. Broncos at New England Patriots (Nov. 2)
Manning vs. Brady never gets old, and the schedule will give us another chance at watching two quarterback legends duke it out. Brady owns the all-time series with a 10-5 record, but Manning has the last laugh with a 26-16 win in the 2013 AFC Championship.
2. Broncos at Seattle Seahawks (Sept. 21)
The Super Bowl rematch is delayed until Week 3 this year, a cruel scheduling joke. It will be fascinating to see how Manning and the Broncos respond to being embarrassed by Seattle in the big game. This will also give Wilson a chance to prove that he belongs in the "elite quarterbacks" conversation if he can outplay Manning again.
3. San Francisco 49ers at Broncos (Oct. 19, Sunday Night Football)
Another NFC West vs. Broncos matchup should be a great one. Colin Kaepernick and the bruising 49ers defense starts the Broncos on a three-game run against the Chargers and Patriots.
Other intriguing games: Indianapolis Colts at Broncos, Broncos at Cincinnati Bengals
Best San Francisco 49ers games:
1. Seattle Seahawks at 49ers (Thanksgiving Day)
The best of the Thanksgiving Day games is also the first meeting of these NFC juggernauts in 2014. The Seahawks edged the 49ers in last season's NFC Championship game 23-17 and this game could go a long way to determining the NFC West champion and playoff seeding in the NFC. Plus, the added value of two young, talented quarterbacks against two stingy defenses.
2. 49ers at Broncos
3. 49ers at New Orleans Saints (Nov. 9)
Another great NFC matchup between Kaepernick and perennial Pro Bowler Drew Brees. The Saints always provide an offensive show on big stages and the 49ers could set themselves up well with a win in this game with games at the Giants and at home against Washington afterward.
Other intriguing games: Philadelphia Eagles at 49ers, Kansas City Chiefs at 49ers
Best Kansas City Chiefs games:
1. Chiefs at Denver Broncos (Sept. 14)
Alex Smith and company get their first crack at Peyton Manning and the AFC champions in Week 2 on the road. The AFC West may come down to these two teams again, making this early season matchup even more important for the Chiefs.
2. New England Patriots at Chiefs (Sept. 29, Monday Night Football)
The schedule makers didn't do the Chiefs any favors, giving them Denver, New England and San Francisco before the team's bye week. This should be a fun game to watch Smith go toe-to-toe with Tom Brady in prime time.
3. Seattle Seahawks at Chiefs (Nov. 16)
The Chiefs are lucky to get two of three of these teams within the friendly confines of Arrowhead Stadium, but this will be a tough game. Smith will go up against Richard Sherman and the ruthless Seattle defense, but a win here could set Kansas City up for a nice run toward the postseason.
Other intriguing games: Chiefs at San Francisco 49ers, Denver Broncos at Chiefs (Sunday Night Football)
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