Are you ready for some Thursday Night Football?
Well, after you see the 2013-14 NFL schedule, you will be.
There are a number of high-octane games on the slate for the upcoming season, including a matchup between some top AFC foes and a couple clashes between some bitter divisional rivals.
|Week||Matchup||Date||Time (All Times ET)||Network|
|1||Baltimore Ravens at Denver Broncos||Sept 5||8:30 p.m.||NBC|
|2||New York Jets at New England Patriots||Sept 12||8:25 p.m.||NFL Network|
|3||Kansas City Chiefs at Philadelphia Eagles||Sept 19||8:25 p.m.||NFL Network|
|4||San Francisco 49ers at St. Louis Rams||Sept 26||8:25 p.m.||NFL Network|
|5||Buffalo Bills at Cleveland Browns||Oct 3||8:25 p.m.||NFL Network|
|6||New York Giants at Chicago Bears||Oct 10||8:25 p.m.||NFL Network|
|7||Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals||Oct 17||8:25 p.m.||NFL Network|
|8||Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Oct 24||8:25 p.m.||NFL Network|
|9||Cincinnati Bengals at Miami Dolphins||Oct 31||8:25 p.m.||NFL Network|
|10||Washington Redskins at Minnesota Vikings||Nov 7||8:25 p.m.||NFL Network|
|11||Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans||Nov 14||8:25 p.m.||NFL Network|
|12||New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons||Nov 21||8:25 p.m.||NFL Network|
|13||Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions||Nov 28||12:30 p.m.||Fox|
|13||Oakland Raiders at Dallas Cowboys||Nov 28||4:30 p.m.||CBS|
|13||Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens||Nov 28||8:30 p.m.||NBC|
|14||Houston Texans at Jacksonville Jaguars ||Dec 5||8:25 p.m.||NFL Network|
|15||San Diego Chargers at Denver Broncos||Dec 12||8:25 p.m.||NFL Network|
Baltimore Ravens at Denver Broncos, Week 1
Boy, this should be an absolutely electric game.
The defending champion customarily gets to start the season at home, but because of a scheduling conflict with the Baltimore Orioles, the Ravens will have to head to Denver in Week 1.
Of course, we all know what happened in Denver during the divisional round of the playoffs last season. Baltimore won a 38-35 double-overtime thriller, highlighted by Jacoby Jones' 70-yard touchdown catch to tie the game up with 31 seconds remaining in regulation.
Broncos safety Rahim Moore not only took a horrible angle to the ball on that play, but he committed the cardinal sin of allowing Jones to get behind him inside a minute to play.
Quarterback Joe Flacco, who signed a lucrative extension this offseason, passed for 331 yards and three touchdowns in the win, averaging 9.7 yards per pass attempt in the process. He was sacked only once, despite the Broncos posting 52 sacks during the regular season (tied for first in the NFL).
Of course, the complexion of each team has changed this season, especially the Ravens.
Not only did future Hall of Famer Ray Lewis retire this offseason, Dannell Ellerbe was signed by the Miami Dolphins and outside linebacker Paul Kruger was signed by the Cleveland Browns. Baltimore also lost both of its starting safeties from last season, Ed Reed (to the Houston Texans) and Bernard Pollard (to the Tennessee Titans).
However, the Ravens did pick up former Broncos outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil (11 sacks last season) and former Oakland Raiders safety Michael Buff, and found a good fit with former New York Giants defensive tackle Chris Canty.
They also picked up former Raiders linebacker Rolando McLain, who could work out well for them if he stays out of trouble. Among all 2013 free-agent linebackers, McLain received the fifth-highest score from Pro Football Focus in 2012.
As for Denver, they were able to steal Wes Welker away from the New England Patriots in the offseason. The Broncos also signed former Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and former Jacksonville Jaguars defensive tackle Terrance Knighton. Time will tell if it was Rodgers-Cromartie's role in Philadelphia that led to him performing so poorly last season.
New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons, Week 12
The Saints lost offensive tackle Jermon Bushrod in the offseason, but he was a bit overrated anyway. That was the biggest loss of note, too.
The Saints made some nice pickups in former Steelers cornerback Keenan Lewis, former Jets offensive tackle Jason Smith, former tight end Benjamin Watson and former Cowboys linebacker Victor Butler.
New Orleans lost its first four games last season but won seven of its final 12 games down the stretch.
The Saints beat the Falcons in New Orleans last season (31-27) but lost in Atlanta (23-13). In the loss in Atlanta, Drew Brees uncharacteristically tossed five interceptions while averaging just 6.8 yards per pass attempt.
The Falcons weren't able to keep top cornerbacks Brent Grimes or Dunta Robinson this offseason, so they will likely look to the draft for help in the secondary.
Atlanta did land former Rams running back Steven Jackson and former Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora. They also were able to keep safety William Moore and received a welcome boost with the return of star tight end Tony Gonzalez.
Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions, Week 13
The Packers and Lions will face off once again in their customary Thanksgiving Day game this season.
Last season, Green Bay won a thriller in Detroit, 24-20. The Lions were leading after the third quarter, 20-14, but the Packers rattled off 10 unanswered points in the final quarter to escape with the victory. Receiver Randall Cobb and tight end Jermichael Finley scored for Green Bay, while safety M.D. Jennings returned an interception 72 yards for a touchdown. It ended up being Jennings' only interception of the season.
Green Bay lost veteran receiver Greg Jennings in the offseason, but they have a lot of depth in the receiving corps, not to mention Aaron Rodgers tossing the pigskin around. Green Bay also kept Finley after some lengthy contract talks and re-signed Clay Matthews.
Detroit lost star defensive end Cliff Avril but found a capable replacement in former Seahawks end Jason Jones. They also re-signed cornerback Chris Houston and safety Louis Delmas and landed former Texans safety Glover Quin.
Beyond that, the signing of running back Reggie Bush may give the Lions a boost in the backfield to help out quarterback Matthew Stafford. Bush has become a more complete back since his days with the Saints.