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Seven schedule hot spots

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We reported last week that the NFL plans to release the 2014 regular-season schedule on Tuesday, with the caveat that it could be nudged to Wednesday or Thursday.

Regardless of the moment the dates and times for 256 contests become known, we’ll instantly scan the list seven specific pieces of information.

1.  The Thursday Night Opener.

The Seahawks will host the first game of the season on Thursday night, September 4.  They’ll play the 49ers, Rams, Cardinals, Packers, Cowboys, Giants, Broncos, or Raiders.

I think it’ll be the Packers; PFT Planet picked the 49ers in the aftermath of the Super Bowl.

2.  The Sunday Night Opener.

The first full day of regular-season action usually is capped with a quality game on NBC.  Last year, the Giants played the Cowboys in Dallas.  The year before, Peyton Manning made his debut with Denver against the Steelers.

This year, the 49ers open a new stadium, not too far down the road from where the NBC equipment and crew will be on Thursday night.  While that would take San Fran out of the mix to open the season in Seattle, the opening Sunday night game could feature the Cardinals, Rams, Redskins, Eagles, Chiefs, Chargers, or Bears visiting the so-called Field of Jeans.

3.  The Monday Night Doubleheader.

Since 2006, ESPN has launched the season with a six-plus-hour football extravaganza.  Usually, it’s an East Coast game at 7:00 p.m. ET and a West Coaster at 10:00 p.m. ET.

These games usually have a more meat-and-potatoes feel.  Either way, it’s two more games of football to end the first week of the season.

4.  The Week Two Thursday Night Game.

With the first half of the Thursday night package simulcast in 2014 on CBS, the NFL reportedly plans to pick marquee games for the maximized audience that comes with broadcast TV.

Which means that there could be a very good game played in the first short-week contest of the season.

5.  The Thanksgiving Games.

Reportedly, the Bills will face the Lions to start the day.  (It’s either Buffalo or Miami this year, because the game will be televised by CBS.)

The Cowboys will host the second game, against one of their six NFC opponents:  the Redskins, Eagles, Giants, Cardinals, Saints, and 49ers.

The third game has no set rotation, although the Ravens have been involved for two of the last three years.  Since the nightcap moved to NBC in 2012, the third Thanksgiving game has featured division rivals, a technique that helps keep the game intense even if the records of the teams involved aren’t stellar.

6.  The Flex Games.

From Week 11 through Week 16, the NFL has the ability to swap out the games earmarked for Sunday night on NBC for better contests.  Games nevertheless are pegged for the spots in advance, and in most cases those games end up being very good games without the need for a flex.

7.  Week 17.

The last week of the season features each team playing a game in the same division.  Typically, all 16 games are played on Sunday, with no pre-set game on NBC.  Instead, the league picks the final game of the season the prior week, hopeful to select a matchup that will have clear playoff implications independent of the other 15 games.

For the last three years, the last game of the season has been the de facto NFC East championship game.  In 2011, the Cowboys lost to the Giants.  In 2012, the Cowboys lost to the Redskins.  In 2013, the Cowboys lost to the Eagles.  This year, it could be back to Giants-Cowboys.

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53 Responses to “Seven schedule hot spots”
  1. southpaw2k says: Apr 21, 2014 9:51 AM

    The league doesn’t like scheduling a game between divisional rivals for the Thursday night opener (the two times the Giants had opened on Thursday night were the only divisional games that have been used, best I can recall). I highly doubt San Fran will open in Seattle on Sept 4. I think Broncos at Seahawks would make far too much sense, but that’s just me.

  2. scoops1 says: Apr 21, 2014 9:53 AM

    Good I hope GB gets the Thurs Nite Opener….

    gets that Thursday night game out of the way Early

  3. qdog112 says: Apr 21, 2014 9:55 AM

    “The Seahawks will host the first game of the season on Thursday night, September 4. They’ll play the 49ers, Rams, Cardinals, Packers, Cowboys, Giants, Broncos, or Raiders.”

    … Packers? What, Broncos don’t want none?

  4. raiderej says: Apr 21, 2014 9:56 AM

    Thursday night. Seahawks will surprise the world and show that they’ve actually gotten BETTER in the off season.

  5. says: Apr 21, 2014 9:56 AM

    LOL @ referring to those two Monday night games as having more of a “meat-and-potatoes feel”.

    That’s a tactful way of saying they pretty much suck. Which they generally do.

    Personally, I’ve never understood the need to have that second game scheduled at 10:00. Why not cut that out and just put one decent game on at 7:30 or 8?

  6. coonsqualler says: Apr 21, 2014 9:58 AM

    My Brownies will be flexed into Prime time after they come out and surprise everybody. Count on it!

    Just Sayin’…Go Brownies!

  7. thepftpoet says: Apr 21, 2014 9:58 AM

    The season opener game will be the Seahawks vs Packers.

    This will forever be known as “The Battle of the PEDs vs the battle of Worst franchise”

  8. justadude71 says: Apr 21, 2014 10:04 AM

    will Pacers – Seahawks feature an Intertouchcepdowntion?

  9. tvjules says: Apr 21, 2014 10:05 AM

    I miss NFL football so much right now, that I would watch the Jags play on opening night.

  10. 4949centennial says: Apr 21, 2014 10:09 AM

    I hope its 49ers @Seattle, arguably two best teams from last year (Sorry Broncos fans, that’s the truth).

    Even though they may not be the two best teams this year, it will still be very intriguing.

  11. weepingjebus says: Apr 21, 2014 10:09 AM

    The important thing is to make sure the Broncos don’t play any teams that finished over .500 last year. Their psyche is very fragile right now.

  12. jr325 says: Apr 21, 2014 10:10 AM

    Oh boy I see the “12th Men” are going to be even more annoying this year… Didnt think that was possible.

  13. eaglesnoles05 says: Apr 21, 2014 10:20 AM

    I’ll go ahead and put 1000 on the ‘no’ for the NFC East Championship coming down to the Cowboys and NYG wk 17 game, Bob.

  14. jimthebuilder27 says: Apr 21, 2014 10:22 AM

    Vikings probably won’t have any primetime games this year….

    So who’s the worst franchise? More food for thought for the most classless fans in the game as they enjoy their Superbowl against the Packers!

  15. listenup823 says: Apr 21, 2014 10:22 AM

    The Seahawks will not make the playoffs this year..

  16. bobbyinlondon says: Apr 21, 2014 10:23 AM

    Sept 4–Denver @ SEA
    Sept 7–Phil @ SF
    Sept 8–Car @ NO
    AZ @ KC

  17. twilson962 says: Apr 21, 2014 10:25 AM

    Dual Monday Night Games are the worst! Nobody on the east coast wants to watch SD v OAK.

  18. paythevig says: Apr 21, 2014 10:27 AM

    just a heads up that the opening game, while on a Thursday night – doesn’t count as a “Thursday Nighter”… both teams will sill have to play another Thursday game.

    It doesn’t count because it’s the first game of the season, and there’s no disadvantage of a short week prior to that game. Teams will use the entire off season to prep for that game, then get a nice 10 days between games.

  19. frotoon2 says: Apr 21, 2014 10:28 AM

    Too funny:
    “In 2011, the Cowboys lost to the Giants. In 2012, the Cowboys lost to the Redskins. In 2013, the Cowboys lost to the Eagles.”

  20. bobsnygiants says: Apr 21, 2014 10:31 AM

    to much football

  21. chrisk61 says: Apr 21, 2014 10:34 AM

    skins at eagles will be huge.

  22. ariani1985 says: Apr 21, 2014 10:35 AM

    will they also release the date when the packers have their anual playoff meltdown????

  23. beardinals says: Apr 21, 2014 10:36 AM

    PLEASE!!!! more Eagles, Giants, Cowboys and Patriots in prime time. Seems the league always cheats these poor teams.

  24. dscol715 says: Apr 21, 2014 10:36 AM

    “Good I hope GB gets the Thurs Nite Opener….

    gets that Thursday night game out of the way Early”

    Doesn’t work that way. Since week 1 isn’t a short week the teams that play the Thurs night opener would still have to play on another Thursday later in the year. For example Baltimore was in the opener last year and played again on Thanksgiving.

  25. humptyfratz says: Apr 21, 2014 10:36 AM

    Don’t be surprised if Seattle hosts Dallas the first week.

  26. nygmann says: Apr 21, 2014 10:39 AM

    It would be sad if Cowboys go 8-8 for a 4th straight season if they lose the Week 17 primetime game. (If they are picked for it.) But then, Jerry Jones will say something stupid again and it will be alright to laugh your head off against the Cowboys!

  27. 12strikes says: Apr 21, 2014 10:45 AM

    No defacto NFC East championship this year. Eagles will have it wrapped up week 14 or 15

  28. realnflmaster says: Apr 21, 2014 10:45 AM

    JETS with 16 primetime game to showcase our 16-0 run.

  29. jbaxt says: Apr 21, 2014 10:47 AM

    No way the league humiliates Peypey and the donkeys that early. Let Peypey pad some stats before he plays anyone.

  30. coutre says: Apr 21, 2014 10:50 AM

    Don’t forget Peyton will get at least 6 primtime games, so this will probably be one of them

  31. Vim says: Apr 21, 2014 10:51 AM

    Please let it be Giants or Cowboys at Seattle on September 4 . . . not the Packers!

  32. oreo51 says: Apr 21, 2014 10:59 AM

    This year the Seahawks will have Sidney Rice and Harvin for the whole season. They should be back to scoring 50 points per game. Last year felt like they were playing with one arm tied behind their back. The defense outscored the Broncos and the offense rarely got on the field.

  33. beachsidejames says: Apr 21, 2014 11:09 AM

    The Sunday nite opener for my pick would be Kapernick vs RGIII.

  34. texansdude says: Apr 21, 2014 11:10 AM

    Why are the Cowboys still getting a Thanksgiving game? BETTER question….why are the LIONS still getting a Thanksgiving game?

  35. backdapack4evr says: Apr 21, 2014 11:10 AM

    No Vikings even talked about in prime time!!
    Perhaps they should try clown music!!

  36. raveallday says: Apr 21, 2014 11:11 AM

    I guess it’s 0-1 to start d season for Steelers.

  37. michfan says: Apr 21, 2014 11:35 AM

    Even a die hard Lions fan like me, has to admit that there’ll be two turkeys for Thanksgiving!

  38. onbucky96 says: Apr 21, 2014 11:42 AM

    Keep Green Bay out of Prime Time! Some of us have to get up for work by 2am, so wasting vacation days just so Herr Godell gets better ratings doesn’t sit too well with me. But who am I, just a guy in the TV target demo.

  39. justintuckrule says: Apr 21, 2014 11:50 AM

    Are there any games on Sunday anymore?

  40. kingpel says: Apr 21, 2014 11:53 AM

    Seattle vs San Francisco to start the season is the best way to kick this thing off.

  41. filthymcnasty1 says: Apr 21, 2014 12:10 PM

    It would be yet another tremendous honor for the Packers to open the season.

  42. mrpeary3189 says: Apr 21, 2014 12:11 PM

    I think the Niners want to open up their season at Levi’s Stadium. So no Thursday Night Opener for them. My money is on the Packers or Broncos.

  43. natepalmer1 says: Apr 21, 2014 12:20 PM

    Seahawks won’t make the playoffs? Hahaha! This year they’ll go undefeated and win the SB…Say goodbye to the 72′ Dolphins…

  44. lovegunzzz says: Apr 21, 2014 12:26 PM

    America’s Team versus the Seahawks book your tickets now!!!!!

  45. Golics Loves Child From Philly says: Apr 21, 2014 12:55 PM

    Tired of the Eagles opening up the season on the road….no fair!!!!

  46. steves11 says: Apr 21, 2014 12:55 PM

    Jacksonville vs. Tampa Bay in the Thursday night opener! That will be HUGE for ratings!

  47. Big Ant TV says: Apr 21, 2014 1:17 PM

    please give my cleveland browns more then 1 thursday night game or at least a sunday night game?

  48. justintuckrule says: Apr 21, 2014 1:21 PM

    Can tell Seahawks fans are new to the SB winning process. Take it from me. Natural instincts take over and your team won’t play with anywhere near the drive of last year. Pair that with the fact that they played more games than anyone last year and now have the “target” on their backs and that all adds up to no better than 10 wins. If they make the playoffs, consider yourself lucky.

  49. watermelon1 says: Apr 21, 2014 1:27 PM

    Ravens hosting Falcons on Thanksgiving nightcap. Book it!

  50. kst2074 says: Apr 21, 2014 1:31 PM

    REDSKINS vs Eagles Thursday night, wow

  51. drwbrsdmndsnxplntn says: Apr 21, 2014 1:37 PM

    Haha a Seahawks fan said “this year we will have harvin and Sidney rice healthy the entire season”. Kids say the darnedest things I tell ya! Pretty adorable, will be a great memory in retrospect

  52. overdrawnagain says: Apr 21, 2014 7:49 PM

    If the NFL has any kind of memory it will keep the Rams off prime time.

  53. sportsfangalaxy says: Apr 23, 2014 7:34 AM

    Seahawks and Broncos will meet again in NFL Thursday night.

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