Picking up where they left off in February, the two teams in Super Bowl XLVIII, Seattle and Denver, open the 2014 NFL season with blockbuster games.
The league released its schedule Wednesday, revealing the defending champion Seahawks will play host to Green Bay in the opener Thursday, Sept. 4, and Indianapolis will play at the Broncos in the opening Sunday night game.
Packers-Seahawks is a rematch of a 2012 “Fail Mary” game won by Seattle on the final play, a controversial touchdown pass that from every camera angle looked to be an interception by Green Bay. Replacement officials called it a touchdown for the Seahawks, however, and that game proved to be the final straw that ended the officiating lockout.
Colts-Broncos means a rematch between Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck, the quarterback who replaced Manning in Indianapolis. Manning lost Round 1 of that matchup, falling to the Colts last season in his first return to his old hometown.
Among the other highlights of the 2014 schedule:
•A Super Bowl rematch comes early, with Seattle playing host to Denver in Week 3. The Broncos have a particularly challenging start, playing Indianapolis and Kansas City at home before heading west to face the Seahawks.
•Manning and Tom Brady will resume their longstanding rivalry when Denver plays at New England on Nov. 2.
•Thanksgiving features three NFC divisional rivalries, with Chicago at Detroit, Philadelphia at Dallas, and Seattle at San Francisco.
•Three London games, one each in the first three months — Miami-Oakland on Sept. 28, Detroit-Atlanta on Oct. 26, and Dallas-Jacksonville on Nov. 9. Looking to test its draw on Sunday morning (on the East Coast), the league has scheduled a 6:30 a.m. Pacific time kickoff for Lions-Falcons.
•For the first time, CBS and NFL Network will partner on broadcasts of Thursday night games. CBS will produce the full slate of 16 Thursday night games, with Jim Nantz and Phil Simms in the booth. NFL Network hosts and analysts will be featured in the pregame, halftime and postgame shows along with CBS Sports announcers.
•Week 16 features a Saturday doubleheader — San Diego-San Francisco and Philadelphia-Washington — although the league has yet to say which will be played first.
•For the first time, games in Week 5 through Week 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.