It's finally here. After filling the last several months with the NFL draft, keeping up with training camps and settling for preseason matchups, the first week of the NFL regular season begins Thursday night.
With the first full slate of games set to take place Sunday, football fans need to know where they can catch all the action. Thanks to several phenomenal matchups, there is no reason to leave the TV this weekend.
Whether it's the primetime games featuring last year's Super Bowl teams in the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos or divisional battles, the first week promises to bring plenty of intrigue.
Before Week 1 of the season gets underway, here's a look at the complete listings for every game and a breakdown of the action.
|Green Bay Packers||Seattle Seahawks||8:30 p.m. (Thur.)||NBC|
|New Orleans Saints||Atlanta Falcons||1 p.m.||Fox|
|Cincinnati Bengals||Baltimore Ravens||1 p.m.||CBS|
|Buffalo Bills||Chicago Bears||1 p.m.||Fox|
|Washington Redskins||Houston Texans||1 p.m.||Fox|
|Tennessee Titans||Kansas City Chiefs||1 p.m||CBS|
|New England Patriots||Miami Dolphins||1 p.m.||CBS|
|Oakland Raiders||New York Jets||1 p.m.||CBS|
|Jacksonville Jaguars||Philadelphia Eagles||1 p.m.||Fox|
|Cleveland Browns||Pittsburgh Steelers||1 p.m.||CBS|
|Minnesota Vikings||St. Louis Rams||1 p.m.||Fox|
|San Francisco 49ers||Dallas Cowboys||4:25 p.m.||Fox|
|Carolina Panthers||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||4:25 p.m.||Fox|
|Indianapolis Colts||Denver Broncos||8:30 p.m.||NBC|
|New York Giants||Detroit Lions||7:10 p.m. (Mon.)||ESPN|
|San Diego Chargers||Arizona Cardinals||10:20 p.m. (Mon.)||ESPN|
Breakdown of Week 1 Slate
The biggest game for most NFL fans will come Thursday night. Following months of waiting, professional football will finally be back, and two of the best teams in the league will lock up again.
Coming in as the defending Super Bowl champions, the Seahawks are eyeing another title. Though they were the best all-around team last season, they are optimistic this year can be even better.
Coach Pete Carroll spoke about his team's expected growth heading into 2014 to Dan Wetzel of Yahoo:
It seems like a number of guys, [J.R.] Sweezy is a great example; Russell Wilson is another example…that just continue to become more familiar and more comfortable and [are] able to take advantage of the experience that they’ve gained.
So we have so many guys that are kind of in that category of the second-, third- and fourth-year guys. They continue to grow and that’s what we’re sensing. We feel that we’re a little bit smarter, a little more wary, little bit more understanding, little more savvy and hopefully that will work for us.
Both of those former N.C. State players have a crucial role on the offense, but it'll be the defense under the most pressure Thursday. Luckily, Seattle has one of the best defensive corps in the NFL.
Going against the Green Bay Packers, the Seahawks will have to deal with Aaron Rodgers, Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb in the passing game. But with Eddie Lacy in the backfield, the Packers have one of the most complete offenses in the league.
With the offense complete heading into the season, Lacy has a chance to thrive even more, as Chris Wesseling of NFL.com points out:
Eddie Lacy's averages with Rodgers last season: 23 carries, 99 rushing yards, 4.3 YCP. Without Rodgers: 18 carries, 74 yards, 4.0 YPC.— Chris Wesseling (@ChrisWesseling) August 27, 2014
As for the weekend schedule, divisional matchups like the Carolina Panthers at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Cincinnati Bengals against the Baltimore Ravens will be intense. But the primetime game on Sunday is glorious.
For the second time in his career, Peyton Manning will face off with the team that drafted him in the Indianapolis Colts. After losing on the road last year, the Broncos will get a chance to take them down in Denver.
After a record-setting year for Manning, he comes into the season with an explosive offense and Super Bowl aspirations. Colts coach Chuck Pagano referenced what the team must do to limit Manning, per Troy Renck of The Denver Post:
Even without Wes Welker for the first four weeks of the season, Manning still has a plethora of options in Demaryius Thomas and Julius Thomas. And thanks to the additions of T.J. Ward and DeMarcus Ware on defense, Denver is solid on both sides of the ball.
While Manning will be the focus throughout the night, the other quarterback is set for a massive season. Andrew Luck is coming into his third season and has heightened expectations with a franchise looking to dominate the weak AFC South.
If he can get off to a 2-0 record against the quarterback he replaced, that's another resume-building victory to add to his young career. With all the eyes Sunday night on the Colts, expect this young offense to shine.
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