After an extremely active free-agency period, the NFL Scouting Combine and a great deal of pro days, the 2014 NFL draft is right around the corner and teams are already preparing for OTAs. Training camps will be here before we know it, and that means one thing: The 2014 NFL preseason is quickly approaching.
As if the anticipation for the upcoming NFL season wasn't abundantly high already, the full preseason schedule was released on Wednesday—further increasing the anxiety as we impatiently wait for the return of football.
The preseason signifies the first glimpse of team-versus-team action. It's the first chance to see your favorite players perform, and the last step before the meaningful games take place.
|Date||Matchup||TV Info (ET)|
|Hall of Fame Game|
|Sun. August 3||New York Giants vs. Buffalo Bills||8 p.m., NBC|
|Week 1 (Aug. 7-10)|
|TBD||Buffalo Bills vs. Carolina Panthers||N/A|
|TBD||Cincinnati Bengals vs. Kansas City Chiefs||N/A|
|TBD||Cleveland Browns vs. Detroit Lions||N/A|
|TBD||Dallas Cowboys vs. San Diego Chargers||N/A|
|TBD||Green Bay Packers vs. Tennessee Titans||N/A|
|TBD||Houston Texans vs. Arizona Cardinals||N/A|
|TBD||Indianapolis Colts vs. New York Jets||N/A|
|TBD||Miami Dolphins vs. Atlanta Falcons||N/A|
|TBD||New England Patriots vs. Washington Redskins||N/A|
|TBD||New Orleans Saints vs. St. Louis Rams||N/A|
|TBD||Oakland Raiders vs. Minnesota Vikings||N/A|
|TBD||Philadelphia Eagles vs. Chicago Bears||N/A|
|TBD||Pittsburgh Steelers vs. New York Giants||N/A|
|TBD||San Francisco 49ers vs. Baltimore Ravens||N/A|
|TBD||Seattle Seahawks vs. Denver Broncos||N/A|
|TBD||Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Jacksonville Jaguars||N/A|
|Week 2 (Aug. 14-18)|
|Thurs., August 14||Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Chicago Bears||8 p.m., ESPN|
|Sun., August 17||Kansas City Chiefs vs. Carolina Panthers||8 p.m., Fox|
|Mon., August 18||Cleveland Browns vs. Washington Redskins||8 p.m., ESPN|
|TBD||Arizona Cardinals vs. Minnesota Vikings||N/A|
|TBD||Atlanta Falcons vs. Houston Texans||N/A|
|TBD||Baltimore Ravens vs. Dallas Cowboys||N/A|
|TBD||Buffalo Bills vs. Pittsburgh Steelers||N/A|
|TBD||Denver Broncos vs. San Francisco 49ers||N/A|
|TBD||Detroit Lions vs. Oakland Raiders||N/A|
|TBD||Green Bay Packers vs. St. Louis Rams||N/A|
|TBD||Miami Dolphins vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers||N/A|
|TBD||New York Giants vs. Indianapolis Colts||N/A|
|TBD||New York Jets vs. Cincinnati Bengals||N/A|
|TBD||Philadelphia Eagles vs. New England Patriots||N/A|
|TBD||San Diego Chargers vs. Seattle Seahawks||N/A|
|TBD||Tennessee Titans vs. New Orleans Saints||N/A|
|Week 3 (Aug. 21-24)|
|Fri., August 22||Oakland Raiders vs. Green Bay Packers||8 p.m., CBS|
|Sat., August 23||New Orleans Saints vs. Indianapolis Colts||8 p.m., CBS|
|Sun., August 24||San Diego Chargers vs. San Francisco 49ers||4 p.m., Fox|
|Sun., August 24||Cincinnati Bengals vs. Arizona Cardinals||8 p.m., NBC|
|TBD||Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Philadelphia Eagles||N/A|
|TBD||Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Detroit Lions||N/A|
|TBD||Tennessee Titans vs. Atlanta Falcons||N/A|
|TBD||Chicago Bears vs. Seattle Seahawks||N/A|
|TBD||Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Buffalo Bills||N/A|
|TBD||Dallas Cowboys vs. Miami Dolphins||N/A|
|TBD||Carolina Panthers vs. New England Patriots||N/A|
|TBD||New York Jets vs. New York Giants||N/A|
|TBD||Washington Redskins vs. Baltimore Ravens||N/A|
|TBD||St. Louis Rams vs. Cleveland Browns||N/A|
|TBD||Houston Texans vs. Denver Broncos||N/A|
|TBD||Minnesota Vikings vs. Kansas City Chiefs||N/A|
|Week 4 (Aug. 28)|
|TBD||Arizona Cardinals vs. San Diego Chargers||N/A|
|TBD||Atlanta Falcons vs. Jacksonville Jaguars||N/A|
|TBD||Baltimore Ravens vs. New Orleans Saints||N/A|
|TBD||Carolina Panthers vs. Pittsburgh Steelers||N/A|
|TBD||Chicago Bears vs. Cleveland Browns||N/A|
|TBD||Denver Broncos vs. Dallas Cowboys||N/A|
|TBD||Detroit Lions vs. Buffalo Bills||N/A|
|TBD||Indianapolis Colts vs. Cincinnati Bengals||N/A|
|TBD||Kansas City Chiefs vs. Green Bay Packers||N/A|
|TBD||Minnesota Vikings vs. Tennessee Titans||N/A|
|TBD||New England Patriots vs. New York Giants||N/A|
|TBD||New York Jets vs. Philadelphia Eagles||N/A|
|TBD||San Francisco 49ers vs. Houston Texans||N/A|
|TBD||Seattle Seahawks vs. Oakland Raiders||N/A|
|TBD||St. Louis Rams vs. Miami Dolphins||N/A|
|TBD||Washington Redskins vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers||N/A|
For the complete 2014 NFL preseason schedule, visit NFL.com.
Top Games to Watch
Hall of Fame Game: New York Giants vs. Buffalo Bills
The Hall of Fame Game signifies the first NFL action that we'll see this year as the Buffalo Bills and New York Giants meet in their first attempts to improve from mediocre 2013 campaigns.
For Buffalo, there are still plenty of unanswered questions on the offensive side of the ball. Can EJ Manuel gain consistency? Is C.J. Spiller poised for a bounce-back season? How will Mike Williams fit into the offensive scheme?
Bills have surrounded EJ Manuel w/some very good talent. I know there are still some OL issues, but for most part, no excuse going forward.— Sal Capaccio (@SalSports) April 5, 2014
All of these questions will begin to produce answers when the first-string offense takes snaps—albeit, on a limited basis—against the Giants.
Buffalo also has a new defensive coordinator in Jim Schwartz this season. The team performed admirably last season on this side of the ball under Mike Pettine (now the head coach of the Cleveland Browns), so it will be interesting to see how Schwartz affects things.
The Giants have the same questions on offense. Can Eli Manning improve from a dismal 2013 campaign? Will this team find a complementary wide receiver for Victor Cruz? Can the offensive line hold up in pass protection?
Eli Manning remains Giants' best 2014 hope http://t.co/Fzzdq5HWQK— ESPN NFL Nation (@ESPN_NFLNation) April 4, 2014
They'll get a good initial test against against a stout Buffalo defense.
Plenty of movement has occurred on defense for New York this offseason. The Giants will be looking to see how Jameel McClain and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie fit their defensive scheme. New York is looking to get its pass rush back on track, and the health of Jason Pierre-Paul will be a large factor in that regard.
There's plenty of great underlying storylines to watch during the Hall of Fame Game. That bodes very well for the rest of the action that lies ahead.
Week 2: Kansas City Chiefs at Carolina Panthers
These are two playoff teams from a season ago that have made some significant roster changes over the offseason.
Kansas City's defense looks to make strides with a strong duo of Sean Smith and Brandon Flowers in the secondary. After a second-half aerial onslaught by the Indianapolis Colts that ousted the Chiefs from the playoffs last season, they will look to ensure that won't happen again.
Dexter McCluster is no longer with Kansas City. The Chiefs are sorely lacking playmakers in the passing game right now and will most likely look toward the draft to provide Alex Smith with more weapons.
This game marks the first step for Kansas City to make another run to the postseason.
Carolina, meanwhile, suffered plenty of losses over the offseason, and it will be interesting to see how this team responds here.
After losing Steve Smith, Brandon LaFell and Ted Ginn, the team's top option at wide receiver is currently newly acquired Jerricho Cotchery. Carolina also brought in Jason Avant. This is certainly another team that will look to the draft to add talent in this area.
Jason Avant got a $150K signing bonus from #Panthers. Also has $45K workout bonus, $855K base salary, $225K available in incentives.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) April 9, 2014
On the defensive side of the ball, the Panthers' front seven has a different look, as Jon Beason departed to New York and Chase Blackburn—a former Giant—is now in his place.
This was one of the most stout defensive units from a year ago, and it will be interesting to see how these changes will affect this team going forward—especially against the Chiefs high-octane offense.
Week 3: New Orleans Saints at Indianapolis Colts
Week 3 of the preseason is generally the most action-packed, as it is treated as a dress rehearsal for the regular season and starters play for a longer duration.
Drew Brees will still have Marques Colston at wideout; however, the Saints offense is likely to have many new faces alongside the veteran.
Lance Moore, Robert Meachem and Darren Sproles are now gone. Kenny Stills showed flashes during his limited time last season; however, the team should be expected to further address the position via the draft.
Top performance-based pay for #Saints from '13-Corey White: $242,448, Kenny Stills: $194,844, Rafael Bush: $180,015, Akiem Hicks: $160,186— Larry Holder (@LarryHolder) March 24, 2014
On the defensive side of the ball, coordinator Rob Ryan enters his second season with New Orleans. Last year, he brought a 3-4 scheme to the Saints that vastly improved a previously porous defense. With the additions of Champ Bailey and Jairus Byrd, this unit will look to make a big splash in 2014.
The Colts sputtered offensively last season after the team lost Reggie Wayne for the season. T.Y. Hilton was a revelation and should play an even larger role this season. The team further bolstered its wide receiver corps by bringing Hakeem Nicks in via free agency.
Andrew Luck has plenty of weapons this year, and this offense should be incredibly fun to watch.
Indianapolis' secondary should be tested early and often in this contest, as Brees and Co. will continue their usual aerial assault. Vontae Davis will remain the Colts' top option at cornerback while Greg Toler figures to take on a heavier workload this season.
We should be in for a treat, as both of these teams provide fierce competition and will attempt to enter the regular season with some momentum.