The NFL’s regular season schedule was officially released Tuesday night, revealing dates for the full 2015 slate. Here are 10 games that jump out as appointment television:
1. New England Patriots at Denver Broncos, Nov. 29
It will be, assuming that both quarterbacks are healthy, the 17th career meeting between the Patriots’ Tom Brady and the Broncos’ Peyton Manning. Could it also be their final matchup? Manning did not rule out retirement as this offseason began but then took some time and decided to return for another season in Denver. Brady and the Patriots won last season’s meeting, giving Brady 11 victories in 16 games against Manning so far, and Brady went on to secure his fourth career Super Bowl triumph. He seeks No. 5 this coming season while Manning chases a second to go with his many passing records and most valuable player trophies.
2. Seattle Seahawks at Green Bay Packers, Sept. 20
A rematch of the Seahawks’ 28-22 overtime win in a classic NFC title game last season. But this time the venue will be Lambeau Field, with both teams having fortified themselves for another run at conference supremacy. The Seahawks traded for tight end Jimmy Graham to aid their bid for a third straight Super Bowl appearance. The Packers re-signed wide receiver Randall Cobb and offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga before they hit the free agent market, making major additions unnecessary.
3. Patriots at Indianapolis Colts, Oct. 18
The Colts will look for revenge after last season’s AFC championship meeting was about as lopsided as it gets. But the allegation that the Patriots used underinflated footballs in the first half of that game against the Colts was a dark cloud that hovered over Brady, Coach Bill Belichick, the franchise and, really, the entire sport for two weeks until the Super Bowl. The issue has remained unresolved as attorney Ted Wells continues to investigate, and Patriots owner Robert Kraft has said he believes Brady and Belichick are owed an apology if they’re cleared of wrongdoing.
4. Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys, Nov. 8
Chip Kelly’s mad-scientist routine in remaking the Eagles’ roster after the coach was given final say over player moves included the addition of running back DeMarco Murray, last season’s NFL rushing leader for the Cowboys while running behind the talented Dallas offensive line. Murray makes his return while playing for a rival.
5. Cowboys at Packers, Dec. 13
Wide receiver Dez Bryant and the Cowboys return to the scene of Bryant’s infamous non-catch during last season’s playoffs. The NFL stubbornly declined to change the so-called Calvin Johnson rule that led to Bryant’s apparent catch being overturned via instant replay review that helped seal the Packers’ win.
6. Buffalo Bills at Eagles, Dec. 13
Kelly traded running back LeSean McCoy to the Bills as part of his overhaul of the Eagles’ roster. McCoy hasn’t exactly taken the move in stride, saying recently he doesn’t think Kelly likes or respects star players.
7. Minnesota Vikings at San Francisco 49ers, Sept. 14
Will running back Adrian Peterson be in the lineup as the Vikings open their 2015 season? If so, this becomes a game that can’t be missed. The Vikings so far have refused to blink in their staredown with Peterson, saying they have no plans to trade him even after agent Ben Dogra said publicly that he thinks Peterson’s best interests would not be served by remaining in Minnesota.
8. Bills at New York Jets, Nov. 12
Rex Ryan, fired by the Jets, quickly emerged as a top coaching candidate league-wide and resurfaced with another AFC East team. It appears that he will try to win, as he did early in his Jets tenure, by relying on his running game and his defense.
9. Pittsburgh Steelers at Patriots, Sept. 10
The defending Super Bowl champions host Pittsburgh in the NFL’s season-opening game. Both teams are likely to be without their top running backs, with the Patriots’ LeGarrette Blount and the Steelers’ Le’Veon Bell facing suspensions after being involved in the same marijuana-related incident before last season when they were Pittsburgh teammates.
10. Jets at Patriots, Oct. 25
Cornerback Darrelle Revis returns to Foxborough, Massachusetts, after helping the Patriots to the Super Bowl title, then re-signing with the Jets, his original NFL team, in free agency.