By Brian Kalchik @RantsportsBrian on July 18, 2014
In 2013, Monday Night Football had some of the best games of the season. From Carolina's stunning defeat of New England to the Seahawks' domination of New Orleans, and even Baltimore's crucial win against Detroit in Week 16, each and every Monday Night game gets fans excited for the biggest game of the week. But what does the 2014 MNF schedule look like. Here's a quick analysis of each scheduled Monday Night game.
In the first Monday Night matchup of the season, the Detroit Lions will be looking to get their season off to a good start against the team that knocked them out of the postseason last year in the New York Giants. If the Lions can get a crucial Week 1 win, watch out for them as a playoff contender this season.
In the nightcap, the San Diego Chargers, led by Phillip Rivers and Antonio Gates, travel to the desert to take on Larry Fitzgerald and the Arizona Cardinals. Both teams are sexy picks to make the postseason, and an opening day win against a quality opponent will get either of these two great teams off to a good start.
In a battle between two of the NFL's brightest young quarterbacks, Nick Foles and the Eagles travel to Indianapolis to take on Andrew Luck and the Colts. The Colts will be coming off of their rematch against Denver while the Eagles face lowly Jacksonville in Week 1. This will be a solid early-season test for both teams as they look to get back to the playoffs after each had impressive 2013 seasons.
The conference runner-ups from the 2010 season face off against one another as Jay Cutler and the Bears travel to New York to take on Geno Smith and the Jets. The Bears feature a solid offense with Cutler, Matt Forte and Brandon Marshall leading the way while the Jets have a strong front seven led by Sheldon Richardson, David Harris and Quinton Coples. Both can solidify themselves as early postseason contenders with a win.
Two of the best teams in the AFC last year square off in Week 4 as the Patriots travel to Arrowhead Stadium to take on the Chiefs. The Chiefs and their pass rushing tandem of Tamba Hali and Justin Houston will look to harass Tom Brady in what will be a rocking stadium hosting its first Monday Night game since the 2011 season.
In a rematch of the 2012 NFC Wildcard game, the Seahawks travel back to Washington for the first time since their comeback win against an injured Robert Griffin III and the Redskins. Washington will definitely be looking for revenge as some would argue that the Redskins would have defeated Seattle if RG III was healthy.
In a crucial NFC West, the St. Louis Rams will look to prove that they are division contenders at home against the San Francisco 49ers. These two teams played on Thursday Night Football last year with the 49ers dominating the Rams in St. Louis. If the Rams can't get a crucial division win at home, they won't be a serious contender for the NFC West title.
Two former division champions square off in Week 7 as Arian Foster and the Houston Texans go up to Pittsburgh to take on Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers. Both teams have fallen on hard times recently after previously being division champions. Can Ryan Fitzpatrick make enough plays in the passing game against the Steelers' secondary, or will Pittsburgh's defense revert back to its dominant days.
A critical midseason NFC East showdown goes down to Jerry World as Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys host RG III and the hated Washington Redskins. After fighting for the last playoff spot in 2012, both teams backtracked in 2013 with the Cowboys finishing 8-8 while the Redskins dropped down to 4-12. If the Redskins defense can't contain Demarco Murray, Washington will be in for a long day at the office.
Eli Manning and the New York Giants host Andrew Luck, Peyton Manning's successor, and the Colts for the first matchup between these two talented QBs. A much maligned Giants defense bolstered their secondary by adding Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Walter Thurmond for matchups like this one. Former Giants receiver Hakeem Nicks travels back to New York for the first time as an opponent.
Two surprise division champions from a season ago slug it out in Week 10 as Cam Newton and the Panthers take on Nick Foles and the Eagles. The Panthers defense, led by two elite pass rushers in Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy, will look to slow down the Eagles' up-tempo offense while the Eagles defense gets a stiff test as they try to contain Newton.
Last season's Week 1 matchup between the Steelers and the Titans was a snoozer, but this year's Week 11 matchup should be a little more exciting. New Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt faces his old team in Pittsburgh, who helped lead Pittsburgh to its first Super Bowl title since 1979 as offensive coordinator. The key will be Tennessee's ability to create enough of a rush against Pittsburgh's shaky offensive line.
Two of the best run franchises in the past decade take turns dueling on Monday Night as Joe Flacco and the Ravens go down to New Orleans to take on Drew Brees and the Saints. The Ravens missed the postseason last year after winning Super Bowl 47, while the Saints returned to the postseason after the Bountygate suspension. Can the Ravens' struggling defense make enough plays to stay with the Saints on their home field?
An AFC East showdown takes place in Week 13 as Ryan Tannehill and the Miami Dolphins take on Geno Smith and the New York Jets. The Dolphins will be looking to finish what they failed to do last year and make the playoffs while the Jets will once again look to be the spoilers just like they were last year. By the time this game rolls around, Michael Vick could possibly take over the starting job from Smith.
Two of the NFL's most accurate quarterbacks duel it out in Week 14 as Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons travel to Lambeau Field to take on Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. These same two teams met last year with the Packers getting a victory late in the game. The Falcons will be looking to prove that last year was a fluke while the Packers' defense will look to slow down Atlanta's passing game.
A crucial late season matchup that could decide playoff positioning in the NFC looms in Week 15 as Drew Brees and the Saints once again travel to Chicago to take on Jay Cutler and the Bears. The Saints were able to pick up a 26-18 victory last season in Week 5, but a much improved Chicago defense will be trying to stop Brees this time around rather than last year's horrific unit.
In the season finale of Monday Night Football, Peyton Manning and the Broncos travel to Cincinnati to take on Andy Dalton and the Bengals. The Bengals were unbeaten at home last year and took down elite QBs like Tom Brady, Andrew Luck and Aaron Rodgers in the process. Cincinnati might still be unbeaten at home heading into this matchup.
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