The NFL schedule arrived Tuesday night, with the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks hosting the NFL season opener on Sept. 4, as expected. However, their opponent is something of a surprise.
The Green Bay Packers will travel to CenturyLink Field for the first time since the infamous “Fail Mary” game of the 2012 season. That’s the game in which replacement referees botched a Hail Mary pass and ruled it a touchdown in a controversial “Monday Night Football” finish. There were other attractive options for Seattle’s first opponent — the Dallas Cowboys, the Denver Broncos or the rival San Francisco 49ers — but the NFL went with the Packers in a matchup that may well resonate with playoff implications for both teams when Week 17 arrives.
Green Bay Coach Mike McCarthy was already tamping down talk about the “Fail Mary” rematch. “This game,” he said, “won’t be about the past. It will be about the 2014 Green Bay Packers.”
The opener is the first of a four-game prime-time package of games on opening weekend. In the first “Sunday Night Football” game of the season Sept. 7, it’ll be Peyton Manning vs. Andrew Luck again, with the Indianapolis Colts playing the Denver Broncos. Last season, the Colts ruined Manning’s return to Indy; this year, Manning will try his luck against the Colts in Denver.
“Monday Night Football” will open with its usual doubleheader, with the New York Giants playing at the Detroit Lions, followed by the San Diego Chargers at the Arizona Cardinals on Sept. 8.
The NFL will play three games in London: the Miami Dolphins-Oakland Raiders on Sept. 28; the Detroit Lions-Atlanta Falcons on Oct. 26; and the Dallas Cowboys-Jacksonville Jaguars on Nov. 9.
There will be a Saturday doubleheader on Week 16 with the San Diego Chargers playing at San Francisco and the Philadelphia at the Washington Redskins.
And, for the first time, up two two games in Weeks 5 through 10 can be flexed from Sunday afternoon to night. Starting with Week 11, a Sunday game can be moved to prime time each week.
The prime-time schedule is NFC-heavy with five teams (Dallas, Chicago, Green Bay, New Orleans and the New York Giants) each having five games and San Francisco, Seattle and Philadelphia each having four. That is, of course, pre-flex.
Here’s the national-TV rundown (all times are Eastern):
Sept. 4: 8:30 Packers at Seahawks (NBC)
Sept. 7: 8:30 Colts at Broncos (NBC)
Sept. 8: 7:10 Giants at Lions; 10:20 Chargers at Cardinals (Both, ESPN)
Sept. 11: 8:25 Steelers at Ravens (CBS/NFL Network)
Sept. 14: 8:30 Bears at 49ers (NBC)
Sept. 18: 8:25 Buccaneers at Falcons (CBS/NFL Network)
Sept. 21: 8:30 Steelers at Panthers (NBC)
Sept. 22: 8:30 Bears at Jets (ESPN)
Sept. 25: 8:25 Giants at Redskins (CBS/NFL Network)
Sept. 28: 8:30 Saints at Cowboys (NBC)
Sept. 29: 8:30 Patriots at Chiefs (ESPN)
Oct. 2: 8:25 Vikings at Packers (CBS/NFL Network)
Oct. 5: 8:30 Bengals at Patriots (NBC)
Oct. 6: 8:30 Seahawks at Redskins (ESPN)
Oct. 9: 8:25 Colts at Texans (CBS/NFL Network)
Oct. 12: 8:30 Giants at Eagles (NBC)
Oct. 13: 8:30 49ers at Rams (ESPN)
Oct. 16: 8:25 Jets at Patriots (CBS/NFL Network)
Oct. 19: 8:30 49ers at Broncos (NBC)
Oct. 20: 8:30 Texans at Steelers (ESPN)
Oct. 23: 8:25 Chargers at Broncos (CBS/NFL Network)
Oct. 26: 8:30 Packers at Saints (NBC)
Oct. 27: 8:30 Redskins at Cowboys (ESPN)
Oct. 30: 8:25 Saints at Panthers (NFL Network)
Nov. 2: 8:30 Ravens at Steelers (NBC)
Nov. 3: 8:30 Colts at Giants (ESPN)
Nov. 6: 8:25 Browns at Bengals (NFL Network)
Nov. 9: 8:30 Bears at Packers (NBC)
Nov. 10: 8:30 Panthers at Eagles (ESPN)
Nov. 13: 8:25 Bills at Dolphins (NFL Network)
Nov. 16: 8:30 Patriots at Colts (NBC)
Nov. 17: 8:30 Steelers at Titans (ESPN)
Nov. 20: 8:25 Chiefs at Raiders (NFL Network)
Nov. 23: 8:30 Cowboys at Giants (NBC)
Nov. 24: 8:30 Ravens at Saints (ESPN)
Nov. 27 (Thanksgiving): 12:30 Bears at Lions (CBS); 4:30 Eagles at Cowboys (Fox); 8:30 Seahawks at 49ers (NBC)
Nov. 30: 8:30 Broncos at Chiefs (NBC)
Dec. 1: Dolphins at Jets (ESPN)
Dec. 4: 8:25 Cowboys at Bears (NFL Network)
Dec. 7: 8:30 Patriots at Chargers (NBC)
Dec. 8: 8:30 Falcons at Packers (ESPN)
Dec. 11: 8:25 Cardinals at Rams (NFL Network)
Dec. 14: 8:30 Cowboys at Eagles (NBC)
Dec. 15: 8:30 Saints at Bears (ESPN)
Dec. 18: 8:25 Titans at Jaguars (NFL Network)
Dec. 20: 4:30 Eagles at Redskins (CBS/NFL Network); 4:30 Chargers at 49ers (CBS/NFL Network)
Dec. 21: 8:30 Seahawks at Cardinals (NBC)
Dec. 22: 8:30 Broncos at Bengals (ESPN)
All games on the last week of the regular season are on Dec. 28 with “Sunday Night Football” opponents to be determined later.