By Justin Patrick @calling_allfans on April 24, 2014
The NFL released its schedule on Wed. night so it’s time for NFL fans to get psyched! People look at the schedules of the team(s) they are fans of, but people also look to see what Mon. night, Sun. night and Thurs. night football games are scheduled. Sun. night games have “flex scheduling” in Weeks 11-17 to allow teams to play their way into a primetime game; Mon. and Thurs. games do not. Here’s a ranking of the Thurs. night games for 2014.
In 2013, the Titans finished 7-9 and the Jaguars went 4-12. There is no chance either of these teams make the playoffs in 2014. It’s still football so it will get viewers, but this is easily one of the weakest Thursday night games.
The Chiefs did go 11-5 in 2013 and made the playoffs, but that was more of a product of their easy schedule at the beginning of the season. They were wildly overrated last season. They could miss the playoffs this year. The Raiders were, well, the Raiders and went 4-12. It’s hard to believe the Raiders will have a much better season in 2014.
The Bucs and Falcons both went 4-12 in 2013. It’s still mind boggling the Falcons went 4-12 a season after making it to the NFC Championship game. The Bucs will miss the playoffs again, but the Falcons have the potential to do big things. Starting their season at home against the Saints and at Cincinnati will be tough, but playing the Bucs and Vikings right after helps.
The Bills went 6-10 in 2013, and the Dolphins finished with a record of 8-8. While either team could possibly sneak into the playoffs in the final wild card spot, the smart money is not on that happening. This game will mean something to these two teams (and possibly the Patriots and Jets), but that’s it.
The Rams finished 2013 at 7-9, while the Cardinals went 10-6. The Cardinals may have narrowly missed the playoffs, but they finished the season strong. Arizona could have a very strong 2014, even if it has a possibly difficult schedule. That being said, Arizona did miss the playoffs and the Rams won’t do much better than last season, so this game can’t be ranked any higher than No. 14.
The Browns went 4-12 in 2013 and finished last in the AFC North—nothing new there. Sorry Cleveland. The Bengals went 11-5 and won the division. This game could be highly important to the Bengals in Week 10 as they should be in a position to make the playoffs again in 2014, but the Browns are just terrible (although Josh Gordon is fantastic).
This isn’t a divisional game, but both the Cowboys and Bears (both went 8-8 in 2013 and missed the playoffs) could really benefit from a win in Week 14. That could make this game compelling, but only if this game is highly important to at least one of these teams.
The Colts finished 11-5 in 2013 and won the AFC South while the Texans went 2-14. At least the Texans have the first pick in the draft, right? Silver linings. Look for the Colts to make the playoffs again, but time will tell with the Texans. They should have been better in 2013, but QB Matt Schaub kept throwing passes to the wrong team and now is out of Houston. Can Case Keenum or T.J. Yates lead the Texans to the playoffs? Doubtful.
The Vikings went 5-10, good for last in the NFC North, while the Packers went 8-7-1 and won the division. The Packers did play for a stretch without QB Aaron Rodgers, due to an injury. The Packers should win, but these teams do not like each other so it is always fun to watch them play.
The Chargers went 9-7 and miraculously made the playoffs last season, to the dismay of every Pittsburgh Steelers fan. The Broncos finished the season 13-3 and went to the Super Bowl, ultimately losing to the Seattle Seahawks. This is a divisional game between two playoff teams from 2013 and it should be entertaining.
The Bears finished 2013 at 8-8 and missed the playoffs, and the Lions went 7-9. There is one reason and one reason only this game is at No. 8—Calvin Johnson. The Lions' wide receiver is absolutely must see TV and fans will get a full game of just watching Megatron, instead of trying to watch him do this thing through a full slate of Sunday games.
The Thursday night schedule starts off with a good one. Remember the last time the Packers played in Seattle in 2012? Yes, it was the Fail Mary game—the game that finally helped bring the real refs back. The Seahawks are the defending Super Bowl champs this time around, and the Packers would love to spoil their season opener. This should be a highly entertaining game.
Both teams went 8-8 in 2013 and the Steelers missed out on the playoffs thanks to the Chargers having a collection of horseshoes, rabbits feet and probably every other lucky charm known in their possession the final few weeks of the season. Whenever the Steelers and Ravens play, it is a physical game that is fun to watch because these teams flat out hate each other.
If the NFC East holds true to form over the past couple of seasons (extremely close divisional race), this game will mean something, even if it’s being played in Week 4. It won’t be a must win, but it will be an important game. Plus, seeing Robert Griffin III in primetime against a divisional opponent should be a lot of fun to watch.
The Patriots finished with a record of 12-4 in 2013 and went to their third straight AFC Championship game while the Jets went 8-8 and missed the playoffs. These teams and fan bases cannot stand each other and these games are close more often than not. QB Mark Sanchez is no longer on the Jets (probably a good thing for NY), but will the Jets beat the Patriots with either Geno Smith or Michael Vick running the show? Ummm—no.
The Eagles went 10-6 and won the division under new head coach Chip Kelly. The Cowboys (8-8) did what the Cowboys always do—play well enough to have a shot at getting into the playoffs going into the final week, but ultimately miss out. The Eagles no longer have DeSean Jackson who is now in Washington. It’s always a tight race in the NFC East so each game is important.
The Panthers went 12-4 in 2013 and won the division, and the Saints were a wild card team at 11-5. The Panthers got rid of all of QB Cam Newton’s receivers. It will be interesting to see if he can keep a positive attitude if things start to go south. The Saints will probably win the division this season, but no matter what it should be fun to watch Newton and Saints QB Drew Brees on the same field.
This should be the most entertaining Thursday night game of the season. This will be two playoff teams from last season who play a physical style of football and can’t stand each other. Eat your turkey, stuffing and whatever else you eat on Thanksgiving and enjoy the two games before this one as awesome appetizers, and then settle in for what should be a fantastic game.
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