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Top Ten NFL Match-Ups of 2014

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Happy Day After NFL Schedule Release Day, y’all! Yes, it is a holiday in my book. If you’d laid money on what we’re going to look at today, you probably would’ve won your bet. Yes, we’re going to break down ten of the best match-ups of the upcoming 2014 season. While the obvious (Seahawks/49ers, Broncos/Colts, et al.) are featured, I’ve also included a few contests you might not’ve paid close attention to initially. 

 

Top Ten NFL Match-Ups of 2014

USA TODAY Sports

1. In Week 3, the Seattle Seahawks visit the Denver Broncos for a Super Bowl XLVIII rematch. I think it’s safe to say that, especially with Denver’s newly upgraded D, this is the most anticipated game of 2014. One of the things I’m most interested in seeing is whether or not Ware, Ward, and the rest of the Broncos’ defensive boys have the chemistry they need to win at CenturyLink so early in the season. This one ought to be a doozy…of course, we said that in February too…

 

2. The San Francisco 49ers will visit the Seattle Seahawks in Week 15 for an NFC Championship rematch. Surely you remember how volatile that match-up was (the tipped pass, Sherman’s unforgettable post-game interview, the noise of Seattle’s 12th man? Coming back to you?) and this one should prove to be just as exhilarating. By this point in the season, LB Navorro Bowman ought to be back to fighting form and, barring any major injuries during Weeks 1-14, both squads starters will be ready for a full-on battle. 

 

3. The Broncos visit the Patriots (again…this happens often, as No. 18 has humorously noted) in Week 9. This will mark the 16th time that Manning and Brady have faced-off. The match-up is always a good one, even though Manning has actually won just 5 times. Since this year’s contest takes place over halfway through the season, we could be looking at play-off implications, which will surely add to the hype.  

 

4. Does it get much more historic than the match-up between the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears? These teams have been duking it out for 94 of the NFL’s 95 years. Their first 2014 game takes place in Week 4 at Soldier Field. While this NFC North rivalry is exciting no matter what’s going on in the locker room, former Bears star DE Julius Peppers will be donning a green and yellow uniform this time around, which makes for one of the best story lines of the entire season. 

 

5. In Week 1, the Indianapolis Colts (and me, as a matter of fact) will be visiting Mile High Stadium for what will hopefully be a heck of a game against the Denver Broncos. Last year, the Colts handed Manning a homecoming he won’t soon forget by beating his new squad at Lucas Oil Stadium. This year, however, things might be a bit different. The Broncos have bolstered their defense and this will be the first time Indy QB Andrew Luck has played at Denver’s altitude. Still, No. 18 facing the team that he built is always a must-see. 

 

6. The Pittsburgh Steelers visit the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday night to kick-off Week 2 (literally). 11 of these teams’ last 14 match-ups have been decided by a single point, including last year’s Thanksgiving prime time nail-biter. Given that statistic, it’s hard to ask for a more exciting contest. 

 

7. It is safe to say that WR Steve Smith (who spent 13 years playing for the Carolina Panthers) was less than thrilled when the squad let him go this off-season. Smith has, in fact, sworn that there will “be blood and guts everywhere” when he faces his former team again. Looks like this will happen sooner rather than later, in Week 4 to be exact. Smith, now on the Baltimore Ravens’ roster, will get to square-off against the Panthers on his new home field. This may just be one for the ages, thanks in large part to Smith’s rage. Let’s hope he hasn’t calmed down by then. 

 

8. Andy Reid’s Chiefs started the 2013 season 9-0, but their opponents were not exactly the most challenging. They ended up finishing the year 11-5, which is nothing to sneeze at. In fact, the Chiefs traveled to Indianapolis for a thrilling post-season match-up, which they lost….by a single point….after leading by 28. It was not a good day for Kansas City fans. This year, I love their Week 4, Monday night contest at home against the New England Patriots. This will give Smith, Charles, and Co. a chance to prove how good they really are against the big guns on a national stage. 

 

9. The Washington Redskins visit the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 3 for the first of their two annual contests. Given the debacle that was DC last year, this game had the potential to be pretty humdrum (before a couple of weeks ago, I would’ve handed it to Nick Foles and Co. already). Then, though, the ‘Skins signed WR DeSean Jackson and things got a lot more interesting. Furthermore, this QB match-up should be a great one; RGIII wants to prove that he’s worth the hype and Foles has to prove that 2013 wasn’t a one-and-done year for him. Good times all around, people. 

 

10. I told you I was going to include a couple of surprises in this list. This would be one of them. The Houston Texans visit the Oakland Raiders in Week 2 and, while this would normally be a comical contest, I’m interested to see newly minted Oakland QB Matt Schaub face-off against his former team. Houston fans have ridiculed Schaub for quite some time, so he’s sure to have a chip on his shoulder, and Bill O’Brien wants to prove once and for all that he’s the guy who can turn the Texans around. This might just be more of a game than anyone is expecting.

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