The “when” is still undetermined but here is an early look at the games to circle on the schedule this coming NFL season.
Denver Broncos at Seattle Seahawks
If any game is circled on the calendar by a single team, the Denver Broncos are certainly eyeing their rematch with the Seattle Seahawks following their 43-8 humiliation in the Super Bowl. Until the Broncos prove they can beat an elite team like Seattle, especially in their home building, then the idea of clinching that long elusive second ring for Peyton must be pushed to the side. Will some high profile additions to the defense like DeMarcus Ware, T.J. Ward and Aqib Talib be enough? We shall see.
Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans
Put this in perspective. Either Andrew Luck is going down to Reliant Stadium to face a Houston Texans team with a new franchise quarterback like a Johnny Manziel or Blake Bortles or he’s going down there to stare across the line of scrimmage at J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney. Either way it’s going to be gripping football theater for the Indianapolis Colts as they try to further their Super Bowl dreams in a division that figures to get a lot better this 2014 NFL season.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Chicago Bears
Free agency was a highlight reel for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who figure to compete prominently in the NFC South. However, the true story of their visit to Soldier Field to face the Chicago Bears will be the much-anticipated reunion between new Bucs head coach Lovie Smith and his former team. It was just two years ago that Smith was fired after nine seasons in Chicago despite posting a 10-6 record in his final campaign. While he remains a highly respected figure in the Bears organization, it wouldn’t surprise anybody if he’s feeling a little bitter about what happened.
Green Bay Packers at New Orleans Saints
There are always fireworks in the air when Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees are on the same field. The Green Bay Packers remain the offensive powerhouse they always are and must pay a visit to the Super Dome, marking the first time Brees and the New Orleans Saints get this matchup on their turf in the last five seasons. With some talent getting added to the defense, expectations are high for this team. Beating the Packers for the first time since 2008, coincidentally the last time they met in New Orleans would qualify as a stepping stone. Either way, the explosive offenses and that fast track turf should make for a fun game.
Washington Redskins at San Francisco 49ers
Quarterbacks always hold center stage during a contest and this may turn out to be one of the sleeper games of the 2014 NFL season. The Washington Redskins are already improved on paper under new head coach Jay Gruden. They added some help on defense and a tremendous piece on offense with DeSean Jackson. The San Francisco 49ers remain a championship contender but the draw of this game is Colin Kaepernick vs. Robert Griffin III. Two highly mobile quarterbacks with great arms get a chance to show their stuff. For RGIII it’s an opportunity to erase an ugly effort the last time he saw the 49ers defense in which he posted just 118 passing yards and an interception.
Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers
One gets the feeling that it is not a rebuilding but merely a reloading period for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens. Both are very much in the conversation for the AFC North title and their rivalry is as relevant as ever. Ben Roethlisberger played some of the best football of his career down the stretch last season while Joe Flacco should find a retooled offense around him. Combine that with the ever hard-hitting defenses and it should be a fun time seeing the two lock horns again.
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