After a longer than anticipated wait, the NFL has finally released the 2014 schedule. The NFL is great at creating a buzz in the offseason and this schedule is sure to do that.
Here are the top five non-division games for the NFC West.
San Francisco 49ers @ Dallas Cowboys – Week 1
For all the wrong reasons, the Cowboys are still America’s team. When they open up their season, although they have been 8-8 for three consecutive years, it is still a big deal.
The 49ers were again one play away. This time instead of one play away from winning the Super Bowl, they were one play away from returning to the Super Bowl. They will start the season with high expectations yet again.
In what is expected to be the toughest division in football, it behooves the 49ers to get off to a quick start. A loss to the Cowboys wouldn’t just start them at 0-1, it would put them behind in any tie breaker scenarios for a Wild Card spot because the Cowboys are a conference opponent.
Denver Broncos @ Seattle Seahawks – Week 3
The Broncos were ill-prepared for the defensive pressure of the Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII. That pressure was aided by a portion of the 12th man. This time the Broncos have to deal with the power of the entire 12th man and still manage to deal with a stingy Seahawks defense.
This is year three for Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson. This is the year quarterbacks are supposed to take a giant step forward. He does not have to put up Peyton Manning-type numbers. However, if Wilson becomes more dominant, the Seahawks could find themselves in Glendale, Arizona in February looking to win the Lombardi trophy again.
Seattle Seahawks @ Washington Redskins – Week 5
The Seahawks have what is considered one of the top defenses in the NFL. Washington has a set of receivers who would love to test that theory. DeSean Jackson can flat out fly and Pierre Garcon is no slouch in his own right. That combined with the mobility of Robert Griffin III could prove to be a tough test for the Seahawks.
This season everyone will have the Seahawks circled on their schedule. Every team gets amped to face the champs. Going across the country to face a young team hungry to erase the memory of a dismal 2013 season will prove to be an early litmus test for the champs.
Detroit Lions @ Arizona Cardinals – Week 11
These two teams hope to be fighting for a playoff spot and this game could help decide if either squad is able to do so.
Last season, the Cardinals were 10-6 and missed the playoffs, so they know how important every game is.
In 2013, the Lions held the lead in several games late and could not close the deal. In the end it cost their head coach his job. Jim Caldwell will be looking to put his team back on the right track.
Bruce Arians is hoping he can milk at least one more solid season out of Carson Palmer so the Cardinals can make a run.
St. Louis Rams @ Kansas City Chiefs – Week 8
Bragging rights in sports is a big deal. It is even a bigger deal when the two combatants only meet every four years in the regular season.
The Chiefs are looking to prove last season was just not due to an easy schedule and the Rams are just looking to return to relevancy.
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