aNewDomain — For some of us addicted fans, the NFL season is like a gift we get to open 17 times a year. The league realizes this and has turned schedule release day into a happening, with three hours of live coverage on the NFL Network.
Maybe we’re taking this too far.
But with the 2015 schedule now official, let’s take a look at some of the must-see games that will hold our interest through the first weekend in January. Hint: Lots of Broncos, Patriots, Steelers, Cowboys and Packers games ahead.
Sept. 10: Pittsburgh at New England
Following tradition, the Super Bowl champs start the schedule at home. Even though both teams will be missing their top running backs because of suspensions, this should be a high-scoring game and a possible playoffs preview.
Sept. 20: Seattle at Green Bay
Think the Packers already have this game circled on the calendar? After losing three straight to the Seahawks on the road – including that unbelievable fold in the NFL Championship Game last season – the Packers finally get Seattle at Lambeau Field. Sparks will fly on the not-yet-frozen tundra.
Oct. 1: Baltimore at Pittsburgh
Is there a better and more bitter rivalry in the league? This game will give the winner an early leg up in the AFC North race and another chance to see former Super Bowl winners Ben Roethlisberger and Joe Flacco match skills.
Oct. 11: New England at Dallas
It’s the Patriots’ first visit to the Dallas area since 2007, when they hosed the Cowboys 48-27. Dallas hasn’t beaten New England since 1996, way back in the former millennium.
Oct. 18: Arizona at Pittsburgh
Cardinals Coach Bruce Arians returns to the place that forced him out as offensive coordinator after the 2011 season. All he’s done since then is lead the Colts and Cardinals to the playoffs and win coach of the year honors. No big deal.
Oct. 18 New England at Indianapolis
Remember Deflategate? Here’s your rematch and a chance for the Colts to ensure that everything, including their spirits, remains properly inflated.
Oct. 22: Seattle at San Francisco
Despite sweeping the 49ers last season, the Seahawks have to be wary about this trip to Santa Clara. This rivalry may have lost a little shine but try convincing the players.
Oct. 25: Dallas at New York Giants
Although his team didn’t win the game, Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. made one of the most unreal catches in league history the last time these teams met in New Jersey.
Nov. 1: Green Bay at Denver
Nov. 8: Denver at Indianapolis
Peyton Manning comes back to Indianapolis, where he spent the first 13 years of his career before missing the 2011 season due to injury. While this game probably won’t match the emotion of the 2013 version, it’s always enjoyable to watch Manning and Andrew Luck match skills.
Nov. 8 Philadelphia at Dallas
Eagles running back DeMarco Murray comes back to Dallas with a score to settle. Murray led the league with 1,845 rushing yards last season before the Cowboys let him flee via free agency. Philadelphia was only too happy to offer him a new home.
Nov. 12: Buffalo at New York Jets
Former Jets Coach Rex Ryan brings his new team to his old home. He just might provide a little bulletin-board material during game week.
Nov. 15: Arizona at Seattle
Good chance these two teams will compete for the NFC West title. Remember that the Cardinals were the only team to beat the Seahawks in Seattle during the 2013 season.
Nov. 19: Tennessee at Jacksonville
What did NFL Network do to tick off the league office? This is the second consecutive year this game has turned up on Thursday Night Football. Click.
Nov. 26: Chicago at Green Bay
This age-old rivalry gets to close out the Thanksgiving Day schedule. Throw in the fact that the Packers are likely to retire Brett Favre’s No. 4 jersey that night and you have all the ingredients for yet another classic between these two teams.
Nov. 29: New England at Denver
Provided both quarterbacks stay healthy, this would be the 17th meeting between Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. Not surprisingly, this game has already been chosen for Sunday Night Football. Here’s guessing NBC won’t be using its flex schedule option this week.
Dec. 6: Indianapolis at Pittsburgh
Indianapolis should be closing in on clinching the AFC South by this point while Pittsburgh will be slugging it out with the Bengals and Ravens for dominance.
Dec. 13: Dallas at Green Bay
Another playoffs rematch gives the Cowboys a chance to avenge last season’s unlikely loss. The Packers erased an 11-point deficit and benefited from a reversed call on Dez Bryant’s late game reception on Green Bay’s 1-yard line.
Dec. 20: Denver at Pittsburgh
Playoff seedings could well be impacted by this game. The Steelers face the toughest schedule in the league based on 2014 records and this late-season game is no exception.
Dec. 27: Baltimore at Pittsburgh
Ravens-Steelers II could end up deciding the NFC North winner. One of these teams has won the division four of the last five years.
Jan. 3: Baltimore at Cincinnati
Remember when we said the Ravens and Steelers have won the NFC North four of the past five years? The one team that crashed the party was the Bengals in 2013.