The NFL has held off on releasing its 2014 season schedule. However, that does not stop fans from looking forward to the marquee matchups of next season. Every team is already aware of who they will face and whether the game will be home or away. The question is simply when will the games occur?
Last season, the AFC West was the only division to get three teams into the playoffs. The division should be even more competitive this season. It is a given that the divisional games are must-see TV.
Here are some of the highly anticipated out-of-division games for the AFC West:
Denver Broncos at Seattle Seahawks
No matter when the NFL decides to put this game on Sunday night, Monday night, or Thursday night it will be the game of week. The Broncos were manhandled in Super Bowl XLVIII and will look to try and exact a measure of revenge. Winning a regular season game will not change what happened in February, but it will help the Broncos in the confidence department.
Kansas City Chiefs at Pittsburgh Steelers
The Chiefs will be looking to prove that last season was not a fluke for their defense. It seemed like every week the Chiefs were playing a backup quarterback and the defense looked outstanding in the regular season. In the playoffs Andrew Luck and T.Y. Hilton embarrassed them. A win against an always tough Steelers team will help to prove that last season was just the start of things to come for the Chiefs.
Oakland Raiders vs. San Francisco 49ers
The Raiders are looking to find their way back to revelance. The 49ers have become a perennial Super Bowl contender. If Matt Schaub can lead the Raiders offense to compete against the 49ers stingy defense it will suggest that the Raiders have begun to turn a corner.
The season won’t hinge on one game, but a win against a team the caliber of the 49ers could help a young team begin to believe in itself.
San Diego Chargers at Buffalo Bills
Traveling across the country to play an 1:00 p.m eastern game is always difficult for West Coast teams. What may make this game more formidable is if it is slated to take place in December. The last thing a warm-weather team wants to do is go north late in the season. A team chasing a playoff spot could have their chances hinge on how well they handle the cold weather.
If the game is slated for early season, look for the Chargers to try and get off to a better start to than in previous seasons. For whatever reason, the Chargers have traditionally been slow starters. Not having to dig out of an early hole would mean better playoff positioning.
(Photo Courtesy Brian Ach / Associated Press)