By Court Zierk @courtzierk on July 19, 2014
The NFL is rolling out a new format for Thursday Night Football this season that should make the product significantly more compelling. Sixteen games in total, 14 on Thursday night, two on the final Saturday of the season, and all but two being played between divisional foes. Here is a preview of each game on the 2014 Thursday Night Football schedule.
What a great way to kick off the Thursday night schedule with a battle between two blue-collar rivals. Both teams are looking to bounce back from discouraging seasons and certainly plan on taking out their frustrations on their most hated division foe. This should be a knock ‘em down, drag ‘em out, fight until the bitter end type of game that you won’t want to miss.
Two of the more disappointing teams from last season face off, with a collective eye toward proving they could be two of the bigger surprises in 2014-15. The result of this game may actually prove to be more meaningful as the season wears on, if these two teams can remain in the playoff hunt.
One of the oldest rivalries in the NFL, this feels like a game that never disappoints. Both RG III and Eli Manning will look to rebound from frustratingly bad seasons and reestablish themselves as top-tier quarterbacks. This will also be the first time a national audience will get to see DeSean Jackson in a Redskins uniform.
A Thursday night showdown in the black-and-blue division should provide NFL fans their fix of roughneck football. As the fourth game of the season, it could be time for Teddy Bridgewater to get some snaps as the main signal caller for the Vikings in front of a national audience. This is another rivalry that rarely is decided by more than a touchdown, even resulting in a tie in their last matchup.
This will mark the first time NFL fans will be able to see the combination of J.J. Watt and JaDeveon Clowney during a nationally televised game. Assuming the Texans can bounce back from their abysmal season a year ago, this has all the makings of a great game. This should be great example of strength vs. strength, Andrew Luck’s offense vs. the Watt-and-Clowney show.
The Patriots never seem to disappoint on a big stage and the Jets could be a team on the rise next season. We are obviously still a ways away from the Tom Brady vs. Geno Smith talk, however, yet another division rivalry should provide an entertaining game. Six games in, we could even see a Michael Vick appearance depending on how the Jets start the season.
A rematch of one of last year’s AFC divisional playoff game, the Chargers will be hungry for revenge as they come back into Denver for the first time since that painful loss. Phillip Rivers vs. Peyton Manning always makes for entertaining television, so this game should not disappoint.
The Saints go into Charlotte for a Halloween showdown. These two teams likely be competing for divisional position heading into the last half of the season, which always makes for some good entertainment. The last time these two teams met was in Week 16 of last season, and the Panthers came out on top, scoring a TD in the final minute and solidifying their spot as divisional champ. The Saints haven’t forgotten.
This game could be the first time Johnny Manziel is put on display for national audience, and we all know that Johnny Football has never backed down from the spotlight. Not likely that this game has many playoff implications, but the Manziel storyline alone makes this game compelling.
This game could be intriguing or it could be a dud, depending on how these two teams' seasons are going. Regardless, we all know that divisional matchups tend to produce good games, so this shouldn’t let NFL fans down, even if it isn’t packed full of postseason implications.
Another age-old rivalry between two original AFC West teams. When the Chiefs and Raiders clash, it is almost always a good game. This will be low scoring; it will be ugly, but it should still be fun. It is doubtful that the Raiders will still have playoff hopes at this point, but if they do, this game becomes that much more interesting.
Amazingly, this will be the first non-divisional matchup on TNF this season, but it should be a fun one. Jay Cutler vs. Tony Romo, in Chicago, in December. It will be cold, and it could be snowing, which is probably the only thing that could keep these high-powered offenses down.
These two teams are dark horses to be the surprise team of the year. They just have the unfortunate fate of playing in the NFC West. Entering the final weeks of the season, this will likely still be meaningful football for both clubs as they battle for a wild card spot.
Most likely the dud of the year. This is what every Thursday night matchup used to feel like. You will most likely have this game on, but it will be in the background, as you review your child’s Christmas list.
A classic rivalry between two teams that will likely still be battling for their playoff lives. There’s not much more that needs to be said. This will be a good one.
The only other non-divisional game on the TNF docket, the Chargers will make their way up north to visit the 49ers' new stadium for the first time. Both teams will be playing for either a playoff berth, or for seeding, so they will both come to play.
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