The Hall of Fame game may have been the official start of the 2014 NFL preseason, but Week 1 really begins Thursday night when six games take place. Add in another six games Friday night and four more Saturday, and fans are ready to get football back.
After months of waiting for its return, the NFL is back.
Here is the full Week 1 television schedule, all the vital viewing information and a preview of the most intriguing game.
|Preseason Week 1 Schedule and Viewing Info|
|Thursday, Aug. 7||Time (ET)||TV Info||Live Stream|
|Indianapolis at NY Jets||7:00 PM||n/a||Preseason Live|
|New England at Washington||7:30 PM||n/a||Preseason Live|
|San Francisco at Baltimore||7:30 PM||NFL Network||Preseason Live|
|Cincinnati at Kansas City||8:00 PM||n/a||Preseason Live|
|Seattle at Denver||9:00 PM||n/a||Preseason Live|
|Dallas at San Diego||10:00 PM||NFL Network||Preseason Live|
|Friday, Aug. 8||Time (ET)||TV||Live Stream|
|Miami at Atlanta||7:00 PM||n/a||Preseason Live|
|Buffalo at Carolina||7:30 PM||n/a||Preseason Live|
|Tampa Bay at Jacksonville||7:30 PM||n/a||Preseason Live|
|Oakland at Minnesota||8:00 PM||n/a||Preseason Live|
|Philadelphia at Chicago||8:00 PM||n/a||Preseason Live|
|New Orleans at St. Louis||8:00 PM||NFL Network||Preseason Live|
|Saturday, Aug. 9||Time (ET)||TV||Live Stream|
|Cleveland at Detroit||7:30 PM||NFL Network||Preseason Live|
|Pittsburgh at NY Giants||7:30 PM||n/a||Preseason Live|
|Green Bay at Tennessee||8:00 PM||n/a||Preseason Live|
|Houston at Arizona||8:30 PM||n/a||Preseason Live|
|Source: NFL.com. N/A indicates not available nationally.|
*Live stream via Preseason Live.
Game of the Week: Philadelphia Eagles vs. Chicago Bears
There are several marquee matchups in Week 1 of the preseason, but none have the potential postseason repercussions that the battle between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Chicago Bears does.
As two of the best teams in the NFC, Chicago vs. Philadelphia could be a potential playoff preview.
This matchup starts with the quarterbacks. While Jay Cutler is the more recognizable star over Nick Foles, the Eagles QB proved to be the more accurate passer last season and made better decisions under pressure. Cutler threw 12 interceptions in 11 games, and Foles threw just two in his 13 games.
The Bears' starting QB has more experience, but Foles has thrived in Chip Kelly’s system.
One aspect of the game at which both teams have incredible talent is the running back position. Matt Forte proved to be an elite every-down back last season (he amassed 1,933 all-purpose years), but he will be the second-best back on the field Friday. LeSean McCoy racked up 2,146 all-purpose yards and 11 touchdowns last season and will look to once again prove his dominance over his fellow back.
While Philadelphia has the advantage at running back, Chicago has the wide receiver edge. Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery have emerged as a dynamic one-two punch, and the Eagles don’t have the weapons to match them. With DeSean Jackson being cut and Jeremy Maclin returning from an ACL surgery, there are serious questions about the wide receiver position.
When he was asked about his recovery from knee surgery and whether he’ll play against the Bears, Maclin told Zach Berman of The Philadelphia Inquirer, “Just a little soreness. It's not a big deal. Today, I probably could have gone. I just wasn't 100 percent. Tomorrow, I should be fine, Thursday I'll be fine, and I'll be able to play Friday.”
The offensive battles will be entertaining, but there are legitimate questions to be answered on the defensive side of the ball for both franchises.
For the Eagles, the team is returning many of the same starters from last year. The conversion to a 3-4 defense was slow, but the unit began playing better as the season progressed. With a full offseason working together and forming a cohesive unit, the result of the hard work will likely be a much-improved defense. Add in free-agent signing Malcolm Jenkins, and many football fans are focused on how they will perform.
The official Twitter account of the Eagles shared which player dominated the Bears last time:
As for Chicago’s defense, the team has made wholesale changes. After watching Julius Peppers walk via free agency, the Bears bolstered the defensive line by adding veterans Jared Allen and Lamarr Houston on the ends. The franchise also revamped the safety position by signing Ryan Mundy via free agency and drafting Brock Vereen in the fourth round.
The teams have become rivals over the years due to the fierce nature of the NFC, and the hope from many football fans is that a little of that chippy attitude will carry over into the preseason.
The starters won’t be on the field for very long, but the intensity should be through the roof when they are.
Predicted Final Score: Philadelphia 30, Chicago 20
*Stats via NFL.com.