As Super Bowl champions, the Seattle Seahawks get to kick off the NFL’s regular season by playing host to the Green Bay Packers on Sept. 4.
That Thursday game is the first of four prime-time games on opening weekend. Also at night will be a Sunday matchup of AFC champion Denver and Peyton Manning meeting his former team, Indianapolis; and a Monday night doubleheader with the New York Giants at Detroit, followed by San Diego at Arizona.
The NFL will play three games in London: Dolphins-Raiders on Sept. 28; Lions-Falcons on Oct. 26; and Cowboys-Jaguars on Nov. 9.
The Detroit-Atlanta game will kick off at 9:30 a.m. ET in an experiment to test the NFL's audience draw on a Sunday morning.
A Saturday doubleheader in Week 16 has San Diego at San Francisco and Philadelphia at Washington.
For the first time, games in Weeks 5 through 10 can be flexed from Sunday afternoon to night, with a limit of two. Beginning with Week 11, a Sunday game can be moved to prime time each week. Also, a select number of Sunday afternoon games are being "cross-flexed," moving between CBS and Fox to potentially draw more viewers.
The Thanksgiving tripleheader features three strong division rivalries: Chicago at Detroit, Philadelphia at Dallas, and Seattle at San Francisco, a rematch of the memorable NFC title game last January.
Looking for the latest installment of Manning vs. Tom Brady? The Patriots host it on Sunday afternoon, Nov. 2.
And for those looking for the rematch of the Super Bowl, Seattle's 43-8 rout of Denver, it's on Sept. 21 at Seattle. Denver opens the season against three 2013 playoff teams: Indianapolis and Kansas City at home, then at the Seahawks.
"I think when you look at it, we have to start fast," Broncos general manager John Elway said. "We knew it was going to be a tough schedule playing the NFC West, and when we finish first in our division like we have the past three years, it is always going to be a tough schedule with a lot of good football teams on it."
The last time Green Bay visited CenturyLink Field was in Week 3 of the 2012 season, a 14-12 Seahawks victory clinched on what now is often dubbed the "Fail Mary." Russell Wilson's desperation pass on the final play was called a touchdown reception for Golden Tate by the replacement officials.
A few days later, the lockout of the regular officials ended.
Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy wants no memories of that game.
"This game won't be about the past," he said. "It will be about the 2014 Green Bay Packers."
Bye weeks begin in Week 4 when Arizona, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Denver, Seattle and St. Louis are off. They end in Week 12 when Carolina and Pittsburgh are idle.
The season ends Dec. 28 with all divisional games.
SEAHAWKS: Cornerback Richard Sherman refuses to back down from his rant after the NFC Championship Game because he wants to “educate the uneducated.”
During a session called “The Modern Black Male Athlete” at Harvard, Sherman told a standing-room crowd Wednesday that he tried to start a conversation about how blacks are viewed by the media and fans. He was called a thug – and worse – on social media because he was so emotional in his trash talk about San Francisco receiver Michael Crabtree after the Seahawks beat the 49ers to reach the Super Bowl.
Houston Texans running back Arian Foster laughed, “If you call Richard Sherman a thug, you have never seen a thug.”
CLEMSON: Coach Dabo Swinney responded Wednesday to a complaint filed by the Wisconsin-based organization Freedom From Religion Foundation.
The organization contends that Swinney violated the Constitution and university guidelines on hiring chaplains when he invited James Trapp to become the team chaplain. The organization also took issue with the coach’s decision to schedule team devotionals and organize transportation to take coaches and players to “church days,” and said Swinney gave Trapp access to the entire team for Bible studies.
“I have recruited and coached players of many different faiths. Players of any faith or no faith at all are welcome in our program,” Swinney said. “Anything that we have in our program from a spiritual standpoint is and always has been voluntary. We’re no different than any other program out there in how we operate as far as providing our players opportunities to grow in any aspect of their lives.
“I am who I am. I’m proud to be a Christian, and by being a Christian, I’m a Christian in everything that I do.”
PENN STATE: Two alumni have received the OK from officials to install a projected $300,000 life-sized bronze sculpture of Joe Paterno in State College, Pa., about 2 miles from the original site on campus.
Construction workers tore down the Paterno statue on campus two years ago.