It does not matter which team you root for because every NFL fan is excited to watch games that actually count.
The regular season begins with defending the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks hosting a likely top contender in the Green Bay Packers. Of course, this is just an appetizer for a weekend that will feature 15 more games, including three more in prime time.
Even though it is just the first of 16 games for each team, a lot of these matchups could make a serious impact on the playoffs, not to mention providing momentum for the rest of the season.
Here is a look at the full schedule for the upcoming week of football with the games you cannot miss.
|Sept 4||Green Bay Packers||Seattle Seahawks||8:30 p.m.||NBC|
|Sept 7||New Orleans Saints||Atlanta Falcons||1 p.m.||Fox|
|Sept 7||Minnesota Vikings||St. Louis Rams||1 p.m.||Fox|
|Sept 7||Cleveland Browns||Pittsburgh Steelers||1 p.m.||CBS|
|Sept 7||Jacksonville Jaguars||Philadelphia Eagles||1 p.m.||CBS|
|Sept 7||Oakland Raiders||New York Jets||1 p.m.||CBS|
|Sept 7||Cincinnati Bengals||Baltimore Ravens||1 p.m.||CBS|
|Sept 7||Buffalo Bills||Chicago Bears||1 p.m.||Fox|
|Sept 7||Washington Redskins||Houston Texans||1 p.m.||Fox|
|Sept 7||Tennessee Titans||Kansas City Chiefs||1 p.m.||CBS|
|Sept 7||New England Patriots||Miami Dolphins||1 p.m.||CBS|
|Sept 7||Carolina Panthers||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||4:25 p.m.||Fox|
|Sept 7||San Francisco 49ers||Dallas Cowboys||4:25 p.m.||Fox|
|Sept 7||Indianapolis Colts||Denver Broncos||8:30 p.m.||NBC|
|Sept 8||New York Giants||Detroit Lions||7:10 p.m.||ESPN|
|Sept 8||San Diego Chargers||Arizona Cardinals||10:20 p.m.||ESPN|
Green Bay Packers at Seattle Seahawks
In the last competitive NFL game, the Seattle Seahawks completely shut down Peyton Manning and one of the best offenses in league history at Super Bowl XLVIII. Seattle won, 43-8, and will now take the first step toward defending the title Thursday.
The best battle to watch in this game will certainly be Aaron Rodgers against the Seahawks secondary.
Last season, Seattle led the league in total passing yards allowed, passing yards allowed per play, interceptions and opposing quarterback rating. Few players were able to have any sort of success against a unit that includes three All-Pro players in Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor.
Rodgers discussed the difficulties of the upcoming game with Mike Spofford of Packers.com:
When you play a defense like this, it’s about very tight execution and not turning the football over. This defense thrives on turnovers and getting after you and hitting you and getting you off your spot.
You have to make accurate throws, and the windows are even tighter with the amount of ground they can cover.
He also added the challenge of playing at CenturyLink Field, via Tricia Whitaker of ABC Green Bay:
Still, if there is one quarterback capable of winning in Seattle, it is Rodgers. He has a strong, accurate arm to make the tight throws, mobility to make plays when things break down and the weapons to make plays after the catch.
This will be a close battle, and we will know a lot more about the NFC title picture after this game.
San Francisco 49ers at Dallas Cowboys
The San Francisco 49ers have been one of the better teams in football over the past few seasons, reaching the NFC Championship Game three years in a row. However, it would not be surprising to see a downfall start this season.
While most of the same players are on the roster, the squad will be without a few important ones early, as Rand Getlin of Yahoo Sports points out:
Going to be an absolutely brutal early stretch for the #49ers. No Aldon Smith, no Navarro Bowman, no Alex Boone. Ugh.— Rand Getlin (@Rand_Getlin) August 29, 2014
Alex Boone is coming back after ending his holdout, but he has missed the entire preseason and will likely struggle early to get back into form. Additionally, the squad could be without defensive end Ray McDonald who was arrested earlier in the week:
THIS JUST IN: 49ers DL Ray McDonald was arrested on domestic violence charges early this morning. pic.twitter.com/OjpTsGuFgT— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) August 31, 2014
Add these problems to a defense that is already replacing most of the secondary, and the normally elite unit could be in trouble.
On the other hand, the Dallas Cowboys are attempting to take the opposite path from mediocrity to contention. Tony Romo, Dez Bryant and others help create one of the better offenses in the league, but the defense remains a big question after allowing the most yards in football last season.
A win in this game could give the team a lot of confidence going forward, though, making it a legitimate playoff contender after three 8-8 seasons in a row.
Indianapolis Colts at Denver Broncos
One of the most memorable games of the 2013 season was when Peyton Manning returned to Indianapolis in Week 7. While the fans cheered their former hero, they were happier to see their new quarterback as Andrew Luck orchestrated a 39-33 upset.
Luck has turned himself into one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL over the past two seasons and is ready to take the torch away from Manning. ESPN.com's Mike Sando (subscription required) explained that he would be the first pick in the league if you had to start a franchise right now:
[Bill] Polian and the GM consulted for this piece did not just endorse Luck as the top pick; they assumed anyone with basic football knowledge would list him here. It's a given to them, and there are good reasons for that. With Luck, there are no limiting factors either physically or mentally.
With an improved receiving corps that includes a healthy Reggie Wayne and Hakeem Nicks, this could be one of the few teams that can match the Broncos offensively.
Of course, fans should not expect Manning to go away, especially after the best statistical season in NFL history. Even after losing Eric Decker to free agency, the Broncos should be incredibly difficult to stop on offense.
This Sunday night game will be a high-scoring battle between two of the most exciting teams in the league, and it will certainly be a matchup to remember.
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