NFL Preseason Schedule 2014: Full Slate and Top Matchups to Watch Before Season

Steven Cook@@stevencookinFeatured Columnist IVAugust 9, 2014

Aug 8, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Philadelphia Eagles running back Henry Josey (34) carries the ball as Chicago Bears defensive back Al Louis-Jean (39) chases during the second half of a preseason game at Soldier Field. The Bears won 34-28. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

The never-ending wait is over, and football is officially back as the 2014 NFL preseason is now in full swing.

While meaningless in terms of who wins and loses, the preseason is the opportunity for all 32 teams to trim down their rosters to just 53 men before the season starts. Fringe players are competing every snap for roster spots, and new-look units aim to build chemistry in the opening four exhibitions.

There will be some experimenting going on, too. The NFL is trying out an extra-point rule change that moves PATs to the 20-yard line, and it's something we could see in the regular season if it goes smoothly.

Many teams have made intriguing upgrades and additions over the offseason, making certain games must-watch stuff despite the inconsequential outcomes.

Here's a look at the complete NFL preseason schedule and the matchups you don't want to miss. 

2014 NFL Preseason Schedule
DateMatchupTV Info (ET)
Sun., August 3NY Giants vs. Buffalo8 p.m., NBC
Week 1
Thu., August 7Indianapolis at NY Jets7 p.m.
Thu., August 7San Francisco at Baltimore7:30 p.m.
Thu., August 7New England at Washington7:30 p.m.
Thu., August 7Cincinnati at Kansas City8 p.m.
Thu., August 7Seattle at Denver9 p.m.
Thu., August 7Dallas at San Diego10 p.m.
Fri., August 8Miami at Atlanta7 p.m.
Fri., August 8Buffalo at Carolina7:30 p.m.
Fri., August 8Tampa Bay at Jacksonville7:30 p.m.
Fri., August 8Philadelphia at Chicago8 p.m.
Fri., August 8Oakland at Minnesota8 p.m.
Fri., August 8New Orleans at St. Louis8 p.m.
Sat., August 9Cleveland at Detroit7:30 p.m.
Sat., August 9Pittsburgh at NY Giants7:30 p.m.
Sat., August 9Green Bay at Tennessee8 p.m.
Sat., August 9Houston at Arizona8:30 p.m.
Week 2
Thu., August 14Jacksonville at Chicago8 p.m., ESPN
Fri., August 15Philadelphia at New England7:30 p.m.
Fri., August 15Tennessee at New Orleans8 p.m.
Fri., August 15Detroit at Oakland10 p.m.
Fri., August 15San Diego at Seattle10 p.m.
Sat., August 16Green Bay at St. Louis4 p.m.
Sat., August 16NY Jets at Cincinnati7 p.m.
Sat., August 16Baltimore at Dallas7 p.m.
Sat., August 16NY Giants at Indianapolis7 p.m.
Sat., August 16Buffalo at Pittsburgh7:30 p.m.
Sat., August 16Miami at Tampa Bay7:30 p.m.
Sat., August 16Atlanta at Houston8 p.m.
Sat., August 16Arizona at Minnesota8:30 p.m.
Sun., August 17Denver at San Francisco4 p.m.
Sun., August 17Kansas City at Carolina8 p.m., Fox
Mon., August 18Cleveland at Washington8 p.m., ESPN
Week 3
Thu., August 21Pittsburgh at Philadelphia7:30 p.m.
Fri., August 22Oakland at Green Bay8 p.m., CBS
Fri., August 22Jacksonville at Detroit7:30 p.m.
Fri., August 22Carolina at New England7:30 p.m.
Fri., August 22NY Giants at NY Jets7:30 p.m.
Fri., August 22Chicago at Seattle10 p.m.
Sat., August 23Tampa Bay at Buffalo4:30 p.m.
Sat., August 23Dallas at Miami7 p.m.
Sat., August 23Tennessee at Atlanta7 p.m.
Sat., August 23Washington at Baltimore7:30 p.m.
Sat., August 23New Orleans at Indianapolis8 p.m., CBS
Sat., August 23St. Louis at Cleveland8 p.m.
Sat., August 23Minnesota at Kansas City8 p.m.
Sat., August 23Houston at Denver9 p.m.
Sun., August 24San Diego at San Francisco4 p.m., Fox
Sun., August 24Cincinnati at Arizona8 p.m., NBC
Week 4
Thu., August 28Atlanta at Jacksonville6 p.m.
Thu., August 28Detroit at Buffalo7 p.m.
Thu., August 28Indianapolis at Cincinnati7 p.m.
Thu., August 28Kansas City at Green Bay7 p.m.
Thu., August 28St. Louis at Miami7 p.m.
Thu., August 28NY Jets at Philadelphia7 p.m.
Thu., August 28New England at NY Giants7:30 p.m.
Thu., August 28Carolina at Pittsburgh7:30 p.m.
Thu., August 28Washington at Tampa Bay7:30 p.m.
Thu., August 28Chicago at Cleveland8 p.m.
Thu., August 28Denver at Dallas8 p.m.
Thu., August 28San Francisco at Houston8 p.m.
Thu., August 28Baltimore at New Orleans8 p.m.
Thu., August 28Minnesota at Tennessee8 p.m.
Thu., August 28Seattle at Oakland10 p.m.
Thu., August 28Arizona at San Diego10 p.m

Highlighted games are nationally televised; all games can be streamed with NFL Preseason Live

Top Games to Watch

Week 2: Cleveland Browns at Washington Redskins

BEREA, OH - JULY 26: Rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel #2 of the Cleveland Browns during training camp at the Cleveland Browns training facility on July 26, 2014 in Berea, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Jason Miller/Getty Images

The opinions on how Johnny Manziel's career will unfold vary, but it's safe to say his biggest fans and biggest critics will both be tuning in to see how it goes.

The Browns travel to Washington to face the Redskins in what will be Johnny Football's second preseason appearance, and it could be his last real chance to win the starting job before Week 1 of the season.

Manziel is sure to see the field in all four preseason games barring injury, but his first two games will decide whether he starts against Pittsburgh in the season opener. Cleveland head coach Mike Pettine has repeatedly stated, per the team's official site, that he plans on having all his starters—including the quarterback—named by the third week of preseason.

With that said, eyes will also be fixed on a touted quarterback on the other team. 

Robert Griffin III enters 2014 hoping to bounce back from his sophomore regression, and he will do so using new head coach Jay Gruden's high-powered offense. Washington kept things simple with RGIII in the preseason opener and opted to give Kirk Cousins more time, but the team should open things up a bit in Griffin's second appearance.

Week 3: New York Giants at New York Jets

CANTON, OH - AUGUST 3: Wide receiver Marcus Harris #18 of the New York Giants celebrates after running for a first down during the second quarter against the Buffalo Bills at the 2014 NFL Hall of Fame Game at Fawcett Stadium on August 3, 2014 in Canton, O
Jason Miller/Getty Images

This battle of the Big Apple is just preseason football, but the Jets and Giants will both want to make MetLife Stadium their home when they clash in Week 3.

The two teams are equal owners of the stadium, which opened in 2009, and will face off for the second time there after playing in the 2011 regular season. But make no mistake about it—both coaching staffs will be focused on their own teams first and foremost.

Rex Ryan's Jets seem to be boasting Geno Smith as the starter, but Michael Vick looked good in his opener according to his head coach (per the New York Daily News' Seth Walder). With Vick and Chris Johnson as offseason acquisitions, it could just be a matter of time and game film before the Jets go with experience and speed on offense over youth.

The Giants' offense is mainly focused on improving a run game that was among the league's worst a year ago. It got off to a strong start in the Hall of Fame Game against Buffalo—Andre Williams, Peyton Hillis and Rashad Jennings combined for over 100 yards on 21 carries. 

2013 was a year to forget for New York NFL fans, but the future is looking bright for both the Giants and Jets after transforming their rosters this offseason. 

Week 3: Houston Texans at Denver Broncos 

Joe Mahoney/Associated Press

In a Sunday mid-afternoon slot on national television, Houston traveling to Denver to face the Broncos in Week 3 might be the closest thing to regular-season football we'll get before it officially comes.

Peyton Manning looked sharp in his preseason opener, completing 10 of 13 passes for 78 yards. While he won't get more than a few series, watching J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney pursue the all-time great will be compelling action.

Of course, Bill O'Brien and the Texans will be more focused on their own quarterback than taking down the other team's QB. Their offseason quarterback pursuit ended with Ryan Fitzpatrick—who played his way out of division-rival Tennessee—as the incumbent starter. 

The Houston Chronicle's Brian T. Smith summarized the state of the Texans' quarterbacks in training camp (subscription required):

Since July 26, Fitzpatrick has clearly been the Texans' best quarterback. Savage, a fourth-round pick, has barely played. Keenum often has struggled, at times appearing weighted down by a complex system that requires constant in-the-moment decisions and instant precision.

Pat Sullivan/Associated Press

By Week 3, O'Brien and his fellow coaches will have a better idea of what they're getting from their quarterbacks. Fitzpatrick is unsurprisingly the leader right now given his experience, but glimpses of promise from Savage or Keenum could start to swing playing time. 

Most teams opt to sparsely play starters in Week 4, if at all. But the week before is when teams can give players they're unsure about some extra reps. If Keenum or Savage have any intentions of pressing Fitzpatrick early on this season, a big game against the Broncos would help tremendously. 


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