Ranking all 55 prime time games of the 2015 NFL schedule
By Brad Gagnon
This year’s NFL schedule features 51 prime time games and 55 nationally televised games, with one more scheduled to be added on the final Sunday of the season. There’s also a chance that as many as eight Sunday night games will be flexed between Week 5 and Week 16. But working only with what we know right now, we’ve gone ahead and ranked the 55 games you’ll have access to this year regardless of your cable package.
* Note: This doesn’t include the Week 7 game between the Bills and Jaguars in London, which will be played in an exclusive time slot but will not air on network or cable television.
55. Titans at Jaguars (Nov. 19, NFLN): Two of the league’s least appealing teams, regardless of their young quarterbacks. Neither is going to contend in 2015, and they’re only on national TV here because every team gets at least one primetime game. This is actually the second consecutive year in which this exact matchup has ranked dead last on our list.
54. Browns at Bengals (Nov. 5, NFLN): Cincinnati will be a contender but Cleveland isn’t likely to be very good and will be in trouble on the road on short rest. Suspense at the quarterback position for the Browns isn’t enough to save this one.
53. Ravens at Browns (Nov. 30, ESPN): This is Browns-Bengals except a little later in the season and in Cleveland, making it slightly more interesting.
52. Buccaneers at Rams (Dec. 17, NFLN): Are we going to have to wait this long to see the top pick in the draft? And does anyone expect these teams to be in contention in Week 15?
51. Jets at Colts (Sept. 21, ESPN): An early look at Todd Bowles and somewhat of a new-look Jets team isn’t enough to save this early-season Monday night game. Watch for a possible blowout with the Colts in their home opener.
50. Colts at Texans (Oct. 8, CBS/NFLN): A standard Thursday night divisional game that probably won’t matter much because Indianapolis will win the AFC South by a country mile and the Texans still have major questions at quarterback.
49. Lions at Chiefs (Nov. 1, FOX): Will folks on the West Coast want to wake up at 6:30 a.m. local time to watch a London game between Matthew Stafford and Alex Smith? Better hope these teams are contending and Calvin Johnson is healthy.
48. Texans at Bengals (Nov. 16, ESPN): Blowout potential here with Cincinnati at home, but both teams should still be in contention for AFC playoff spots.
47. Jets at Cowboys (Dec. 19, NFLN): Real blowout potential here in Dallas, and it’s doubtful the Jets will be contending for anything.
46. Cowboys at Redskins (Dec. 7, ESPN): I really don’t see the ‘Skins being relevant at this point, which is why it sucks this one can’t even be flexed. At least Washington has traditionally given Dallas a lot of trouble.
45. Bears at Chargers (Nov. 9, ESPN): I don’t have a lot of faith in the Bears this year and San Diego has been dealing with some turmoil as well. This looks like a potentially boring cross-conference matchup between average teams.
44. Vikings at 49ers (Sept. 14, ESPN): Back half of Monday Night Football’s Week 1 doubleheader usually doesn’t do much for us. The ‘Niners are probably going to take a step back this year and although Minnesota is young and intriguing, the Vikings still aren’t elite. Mediocre matchup, regardless of where Adrian Peterson’s playing.
43. Chargers at Raiders (Dec. 24, NFLN): A rare Christmas Eve night game is intriguing. I mean, Oakland might stink but this could matter on the road for San Diego.
42. 49ers at Giants (Oct. 11, NBC): The Giants are going to be a fun team to watch this year, but an in-flux 49ers team could be in trouble traveling three time zones. Not exactly big contenders here anyway.
41. Chiefs at Chargers (Nov. 22, NBC): This should have playoff implications in the AFC West, but neither team jumps out at you and the Chiefs aren’t very exciting.
40. Redskins at Eagles (Dec. 26, NFLN): This Saturday night game might matter to the Eagles at home. Might not be the case for the traveling Redskins, but they were able to play spoiler in this exact spot last season.
39. Bengals at 49ers (Dec. 20, NBC): Cincinnati might have a lot to play for and it’s tough to win three time zones over on the road, so this could be solid regardless of how good/bad San Francisco is.
38. Jets at Dolphins (Oct. 1, CBS): Miami will be looking to make a run at the Patriots in the AFC East this year, and the Jets at least have made some major changes. Not a terrible matchup from London at 9:30 a.m. ET.
37. Chiefs at Packers (Sept. 28, ESPN): The NFL will be highlighting past Super Bowl matchups this season, but it’s been a while since these teams met in Super Bowl I. Not a lot of bad blood since, but at least it’s two playoff contenders.
36. Bears at Packers (Nov. 26, NBC): A disappointing Thanksgiving night game. Could be a blowout with the Packers at home against a Chicago team that is usually sliding by this point and has really struggled in Green Bay in recent times.
35. Vikings at Cardinals (Dec. 10, NFLN): Minnesota could be flying under the radar as a contender, but there isn’t a lot of sex appeal here. Of course, if Adrian Peterson winds up in Arizona that all changes.
34. Ravens at Cardinals (Oct. 26, ESPN): A solid defensive matchup that will probably depend heavily on how healthy both teams are. It’s early enough in the season to earn the benefit of the doubt.
33. Redskins at Giants (Sept. 24, CBS/NFLN): NFC East matchups are usually pretty fun early in the season, before injuries and poor play start exposing teams like Washington. And the Redskins’ quarterback situation brings some intrigue to this one. Still, a blowout possibility exists with the Giants being the much better team and at home.
32. Broncos at Chiefs (Sept. 17, CBS/NFLN): I appreciate the early-season look at Gary Kubiak’s Broncos, and Peyton Manning is always fun to watch. Plus, Kansas City is a rival and the Chiefs always put up a fight at home.
31. Broncos at Lions (Sept. 27, NBC): Two quality offenses in an early-season cross-conference battle between 2014 playoff teams. No complaints, especially if Detroit can stick around at Ford Field.
30. Falcons at Saints (Oct. 15, CBS/NFLN): Great quarterback matchup and you never know what’s going to happen when these two NFC South rivals get together.
29. Lions at Saints (Dec. 21, ESPN): I’d imagine both teams will be contending, and Detroit beat New Orleans in a thriller last season. Expect a lot of offense in this one.
28. Eagles at Falcons (Sept. 14, ESPN): It should be interesting to see what Dan Quinn and that new regime bring to the table right off the bat in Atlanta, and this should be our first look at Chip Kelly’s wild offense with Sam Bradford, DeMarco Murray and maybe even Tim Tebow.
27. Eagles at Panthers (Oct. 25, NBC): Cam Newton is a natural draw, as is the Philadelphia offense. Both teams should still be in contention at this point, so it’s a solid enough tilt.
26. Ravens at Steelers (Oct. 1, CBS/NFLN): This rivalry has lost some luster in recent years, and now Troy Polamalu’s gone too, but we’re still looking at a pair of 2014 playoff teams. For a Thursday night, this is solid.
25. Steelers at Ravens (Dec. 27, NBC): The networks clearly still love it. This is Week 16, and very likely to matter a whole lot.
24. Packers at Lions (Dec. 3, CBS/NFLN): Detroit has been hanging with Green Bay at home as of late, and the Lions should still be in contention at this point. Quality late-season divisional battle.
23. Lions at Seahawks (Oct. 5, ESPN): Blowout potential exists with the Seahawks at home on extra rest, but this is still a matchup between two talented 2014 playoff teams. Calvin Johnson vs. that Seattle secondary could make it special.
22. Seahawks at 49ers (Oct. 22, CBS/NFLN): The best rivalry in football the last few years, this might lose some points if the 49ers can’t rebound from a poor 2014 campaign. Still, it’s a good matchup between two hard-nosed teams, and the fact that San Fran is hosting could keep it close.
21. Eagles at Lions (Nov. 26, FOX): This’ll be a fun way to kick off Thanksgiving. The Lions are at home and usually put up a fight on this day, while the exciting Eagles played extremely well on Thanksgiving last year in Dallas. Could be plenty of playoff implications, too.
20. Cardinals at Seahawks (Nov. 15, NBC): The Cardinals beat Seattle on the road in 2013, which is an extremely rare feat. If they have a healthy quarterback and can stick around here, this’ll be a good divisional battle.
19. Giants at Dolphins (Dec. 14, ESPN): Both teams should be in contention, and you’ve got some major stars here on both sides of the ball.
18. Bills at Patriots (Nov. 23, ESPN): I really think the Bills are going to be in contention here, but the blowout potential exists at a site in which they haven’t won a meaningful game in 15 years.
17. Colts at Panthers (Nov. 2, ESPN): I like the theme of quarterbacks drafted first overall in back-to-back years battling each other, and both Indy and Carolina should be playoff contenders in their respective conferences.
16. Dolphins at Patriots (Oct. 29, CBS/NFLN): With Ndamukong Suh, is Miami going to be able to make a run at New England in the AFC East? At this point, the Dolphins will at least likely still be within reaching distance.
15. Giants at Eagles (Oct. 19, ESPN): Really, it’s hard not to be entertained by the Eagles. Throw in an NFC East matchup between two rival cities that will also involve Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr. and this looks like a must-watch.
14. Giants at Cowboys (Sept. 13, NBC): The first Sunday night game of the season is a classic NFC East matchup between two teams that should be strong in 2015. How will the Cowboys look without DeMarco Murray? How will that revamped Giants offense look in its second season? Plus, Odell Beckham Jr. vs. Dez Bryant at wide receiver. Pure entertainment.
13. Eagles at Cowboys (Nov. 8, NBC): More Chip Kelly, more of America’s Team. This could have major implications, plus DeMarco Murray’s return to Dallas.
12. Steelers at Chargers (Oct. 12, ESPN): Love matchups between stud quarterbacks from the 2004 draft, and this one could have playoff implications despite being in October. Just a good matchup, and probably a close one.
11. Cowboys at Saints (Oct. 4, NBC): At this point, injuries or whatever else won’t have ruined the Saints’ season. And although both teams lost stellar offensive weapons in the offseason, they’ve played four extremely high-scoring, eventful games in the last five years. Can’t go wrong with Drew Brees vs. Tony Romo at the Superdome on a Sunday night.
10. Bills at Jets (Nov. 12, NFLN): Buffalo is an intriguing team that could make a run at the playoffs if it can figure things out at quarterback, while at least the Jets will have a fresher look this year. The Bills have crushed New York in their last three meetings, but at least this one’s on short rest away from home. Oh, and I guess we should mention this is Rex Ryan’s return to New York.
9. Seahawks at Ravens (Dec. 13, NBC): It’ll probably matter to both recent Super Bowl champions, and expect some great defense.
8. Panthers at Cowboys (Nov. 26, CBS): Likely more playoff implications in the second Thanksgiving game, this one between Cam Newton and the upstart Panthers and a Dallas team loaded with talent.
7. Steelers at Patriots (Sept. 10, NBC): This year’s opener pits two playoff-worthy AFC teams against one another as we get a look at two potential Hall of Fame quarterbacks who have won a combined six champions in the last 12 years. That’s gold, especially if New England has taken a small step backwards in order to keep this thing tight.
6. Bengals at Broncos (Dec. 28, ESPN): Both teams should be fighting for divisional crowns. Good offensive matchup and a potential playoff preview.
5. Colts at Steelers (Dec. 6, NBC): Two reigning AFC divisional champs battling in December. Great quarterbacks and wide receivers. There’s almost no way this won’t be awesome, with weather possibly factoring in.
4. Packers at Broncos (Nov. 1, NBC): Aaron Rodgers at Eli Manning in a potential Super Bowl preview. First time these two have faced each other in seven years, and maybe the last. This is prime time gold.
3. Patriots at Broncos (Nov. 29, NBC): How many more times will we get to see Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning? And obviously both are major contenders with a lot to fight for in the AFC.
2. Patriots at Colts (Oct. 18, NBC): Ready for Deflategate talk? Regardless, this is an AFC Championship Game rematch. New England’s had Indy’s number, but we might see the beginning of the passing of the torch here.
1. Seahawks at Packers (Sept. 20, NBC): Kind of a shame this stellar NFC matchup and potential conference championship game preview is being wasted early in the year for the second straight season, but the rematch of the 2014 NFC Championship Game is still as good as it gets. Green Bay will be looking to atone hard for a complete choke in January.
More from Awful Announcing:
- Aaron Rodgers
- Adrian Peterson
- Alex Smith
- Alex Smith
- Calvin Johnson
- Cam Newton
- Carolina Panthers
- Cincinnati Bengals
- Dallas Cowboys
- DeMarco Murray
- Denver Broncos
- Detroit Lions
- Dez Bryant
- Drew Brees
- Eli Manning
- Green Bay Packers
- Indianapolis Colts
- Kansas City Chiefs
- Matthew Stafford
- Miami Dolphins
- Minnesota Vikings
- Ndamukong Suh
- New England Patriots
- New Orleans Saints
- New York Giants
- New York Jets
- Odell Beckham Jr.
- Peyton Manning
- Philadelphia Eagles
- Pittsburgh Steelers
- Sam Bradford
- San Francisco 49ers
- Tim Tebow
- Tom Brady
- Tony Romo
- Troy Polamalu
- Washington Redskins