2014 NFL season
|Duration||September 4 – December 28, 2014|
|Start date||January 3, 2015|
|Super Bowl XLIX|
|Date||February 1, 2015|
|Site||University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Arizona|
|Date||January 25, 2015|
|Site||University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Arizona|
|National Football League seasons
The 2014 NFL season, the 95th regular season of the National Football League is tentatively set to begin Thursday, September 4, 2014, with the defending Super Bowl champions, the Seattle Seahawks, hosting in the annual kickoff game. The season will end with Super Bowl XLIX, the league's championship game, on Sunday, February 1, 2015, at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.
The schedules for all 32 teams are expected to be released in April. The 2014 NFL Draft will be held from May 8–10, 2014 in New York City. The draft's traditional timeframe in late April will not be available in 2014 due to a scheduling conflict at Radio City Music Hall, where the draft has been held since 2006. The NFL plans to continue holding the draft in May in future years as part of a permanent offseason calendar change.
Under the NFL's scheduling formula, the intraconference and interconference matchups will be:
Highlights of the 2014 schedule include:
- NFL Hall of Fame Game: The New York Giants will play the Buffalo Bills, continuing the recent trend of selecting teams whose previous players had been inducted into the Hall. The game will occur on Sunday, August 3, 2014, at 8:00 p.m. ET, and will air on NBC. Wide receiver Andre Reed played 15 of his 16 NFL seasons in Buffalo. Defensive end Michael Strahan spent his entire 15-year career with the Giants.
- NFL Kickoff Game: The 2014 season tentatively will begin on Thursday, September 4, 2014, starting at 8:30 p.m. ET (5:30 p.m. PT) on NBC, at CenturyLink Field, the home of the defending Super Bowl XLVIII champion Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks' opponent in Super Bowl XLVIII — the Denver Broncos — are a potential opponent, as are the Green Bay Packers, San Francisco 49ers and the Arizona Cardinals. (The other possibilities are the St. Louis Rams, Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants and the Oakland Raiders.) Only once has a Super Bowl rematch from the previous season been contested in the opening week of the following season, and that occurred in 1970, when the Minnesota Vikings avenged their loss in Super Bowl IV to the Kansas City Chiefs.
- Unlike the 2013 season, where the Super Bowl XLVII champion Baltimore Ravens ran into a conflict with an already-scheduled Baltimore Orioles' Major League Baseball game (which forced the Ravens to open the season on the road, due to the Ravens and Orioles sharing the same parking lot for their respective stadiums), the Seahawks' baseball counterparts — the Seattle Mariners — will be playing on the road on September 4, assuring no event conflicts (the Seahawks' and Mariners' respective stadiums — CenturyLink Field and Safeco Field — also share the same parking lot). Likewise, the Seattle Sounders FC, the Major League Soccer team that shares CenturyLink Field with the Seahawks, also plays on the road that weekend.
- International Series: Three games will be played at Wembley Stadium in London, England in 2014. The Oakland Raiders will play host to the Miami Dolphins on September 28 at 1:00 p.m. ET (6:00 p.m. local time), the Atlanta Falcons will host the Detroit Lions on October 26 at 9:30 a.m. ET (1:30 p.m. local time), and the Jacksonville Jaguars will host the Dallas Cowboys on November 9 at 1:00 p.m. ET (6:00 p.m. local time), in the second of four consecutive appearances for the Jaguars in the International Series. CBS will televise the Dolphins–Raiders game, while Fox will televise the Cowboys–Jaguars and Lions–Falcons contests.
- Thanksgiving Day games: These games will occur on Thursday, November 27, 2014. The Detroit Lions will host an AFC team — either the Buffalo Bills or the Miami Dolphins — at 12:30 p.m. ET, and will air on CBS, while the Dallas Cowboys will host an NFC team (the possibilities are the New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins, Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers or the New Orleans Saints) at 4:30 p.m. ET (3:30 p.m. CT), and will air on Fox. The prime-time NBC game, featuring opponents yet to be announced, will be featured at 8:30 p.m. ET. However, under the new 2014 rules, the Lions or Cowboys could have their game moved to NBC if needed, and if that is a Lions' game, CBS could hold an AFC vs. AFC game in the Eastern time zone or an AFC at NFC game in said time zone.
- Christmas: Christmas lands on the Thursday of Week 17 during the 2014 season. As the NFL generally schedules all of its Week 17 contests on Sunday (December 28), a Christmas game is not expected to be part of the 2014 schedule. During the 2008 season, in which Christmas also fell on a Thursday, no Christmas games were played.
- Playoffs: The last regular season games will be held on Sunday, December 28. The playoffs are then scheduled to start on Saturday, January 3, 2015. Conference championship games will be held on Sunday, January 18; the NFC Championship will be played at 3:00 p.m. ET on Fox, and the AFC Championship will follow at 6:30 p.m. ET on CBS. Super Bowl XLIX, the league's championship game will occur on February 1 at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, and will be televised by NBC with kickoff around 6:30 p.m. ET.
- Pro Bowl: On April 9, 2014, the NFL announced that the 2015 Pro Bowl would be played the week prior to the Super Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. It will be broadcast by ESPN on Sunday, January 25, 2015. It was also announced that the "unconferenced" format that debuted in the 2014 Pro Bowl would be continued.
On March 4, 2014, the Buffalo Bills' official radio flagship (WGR) confirmed that the Bills Toronto Series would not take place in 2014 and that the future of the series, which was otherwise scheduled to run through the 2017 season, was not yet certain.
The entire 2014 regular season schedule is expected to be released on April 22.
Rule changes for 2014
The following rule changes were passed for the 2014 NFL Season at the owner's meeting on March 26, 2014:
- Eliminating the Referee's time out after a sack (previously the clock did not stop for a sack only after the two-minute warning).
- Simplify spot of enforcement on defensive fouls committed behind the line of scrimmage to enforce from the previous spot instead of the end of the run or the spot of the foul.
- Raise the height of the goal post to 35 feet from its current height of 30 feet, where it has been since the 1974 NFL Season.
- Extend the restriction on roll-up blocks to include such blocks from the side as well as from the back.
- "Dunking" the football through the goal post/crossbar (or any other means of using the goal post/crossbar as a prop in touchdown celebrations) is now considered unsportsmanlike conduct (15 yards). This rule was in response to New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham's tendency to dunk the football after scores. One of Graham's dunks during the Saints' Week 12 game against the Atlanta Falcons bent the goal posts so much that the game was delayed several minutes in order for the stadium crew to make repairs. In addition, the aforementioned rule change to extend the goal posts will add extra weight, increasing the chances that it could collapse. This celebration was previously "grandfathered" as legal much like the Lambeau Leap.
- Expand replays to cover recovery of loose balls even if the play is blown dead. This was in response to San Francisco 49ers defensive player NaVorro Bowman's clear recovery of a loose ball and downed by contact during the 2013-14 NFL playoffs but the ball was still given to the Seattle Seahawks after Seahawks running back Michael Robinson took it away from Bowman. Despite the indisputable video evidence of the recovery by Bowman, the play was not reviewable.
- Connecting the officiating command center to the field-to-booth communication relay, allowing the Referee to communicate with the command center during replay reviews. This was in response to some controversial replay reviews during the 2013 season, as well as league officials observing the NHL's command center. Unlike the NHL's replay system however, NFL referees will still make the final decisions instead of the command center.
- Make on-field taunting and use of racial/sexual slurs subject to unsportsmanlike conduct penalties (15 yards).
A proposal to move the spot of the extra point to the 25-yard line to increase their difficulty was tabled (as was a counterproposal from the Cincinnati Bengals to move it up to the 1-yard line, to encourage more two-point conversions), but the owners approved an experiment of kicking extra points from the 20-yard line for the first two weeks of the preseason.
This will be the first season under a nine-year television contract with CBS (all AFC afternoon away games), Fox (all NFC afternoon away games), NBC (Sunday Night Football games, Thanksgiving night game, and the Kickoff game); and an eight-year contract with ESPN (Monday Night Football games). Among the changes from the previous TV contracts, NBC will televise a Divisional playoff game. The contract also allows ESPN to land a Wild Card playoff game in the future (which, like other NFL games broadcast on cable, will be simulcast on an over-the-air station in each of the team's primary market). Based on current rules, the network that loses a Divisional Playoff game to NBC would air both wild card games from their conference. In addition, ESPN will broadcast all Pro Bowls for the next eight seasons. Furthermore, the league will be able to move games between CBS and FOX by way of flexible scheduling, enabling CBS to televise NFC vs. NFC games, and Fox to broadcast AFC vs. AFC games, in the late Sunday afternoon doubleheader slot.
On February 5, 2014, the league announced it had sold off the first eight weeks of the NFL Network's Thursday Night Football package to CBS, who outbid competitors ABC, Fox, NBC, and Turner Sports. NFL Network will simulcast CBS' Thursday night games, will continue to carry the Thursday night games from Week 10 onward, and will also carry two Saturday night games (Week 16 doubleheader) for the first time since 2011. All of these games (except for one Saturday night game) will be announced by CBS' lead commentating team of Jim Nantz (play-by-play) and Phil Simms (color analyst); in return, NFL Network's broadcast team will produce the studio pregame and halftime reports. The deal with CBS is only for the 2014 season, with the league having the option to extend it for an additional season.
- Levi's Stadium, the new stadium for the San Francisco 49ers, is scheduled to open prior to the 2014 season. The stadium will be located in Santa Clara, California, and will be the host of Super Bowl L. In November 2013, stadium and team officials initially requested the NFL to not schedule any weekday home games during the preseason or regular season — including Monday and Thursday Night Football — due to parking issues in the area. Two months later (January 2014), the Santa Clara City Council approved a two-year deal with the Santa Clara Golf & Tennis Club that would have opened up 10,000 additional parking spaces within walking distance of Levi's Stadium, as well as reimbursed the club $250,000 for each year, which also would have enabled the 49ers to host Monday and Thursday night games for both the 2014 and 2015 seasons. However, in March 2014, Howard Katz, the NFL's senior vice president of broadcasting and media operations, stated that the NFL will not schedule any weeknight prime-time games at Levi's Stadium during the 2014 season until traffic flow within the area is figured out.
- The Minnesota Vikings will play their first of two consecutive seasons at the University of Minnesota's TCF Bank Stadium, as they await the construction of a new stadium at the site of the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome.
- The Oakland Raiders' lease on O.co Coliseum expired after the 2013 season. The Raiders will continue to play at the stadium for seven of their 2014 home games under a one-year emergency extension but its future after that remains unclear. Prior to the season, the Raiders also signed a three-year deal to move one of their home games each year to London as part of the International Series.
|Team:||2013 head coach:
at start of season
|2013 interim head coach:||2014 replacement:||Reason for leaving:||Story/Accomplishments:|
|Houston Texans||Gary Kubiak||Wade Phillips||Bill O'Brien||Fired||Kubiak was fired on December 6, 2013, after accumulating a 61–63 record in just under eight seasons as the Texans' head coach. Wade Phillips was named the interim head coach for the remainder of the 2013 season. Kubiak joined the Baltimore Ravens as offensive coordinator. O'Brien spent the past two seasons as the Penn State head coach and also served as a New England Patriots assistant.|
|Cleveland Browns||Rob Chudzinski||Mike Pettine||Chudzinski was fired on December 29, 2013, after going 4–12 in his only season as Browns head coach. Chudzinki joined the Indianapolis Colts as a special assistant to the head coach. Pettine was the Buffalo Bills' defensive coordinator last season.|
|Detroit Lions||Jim Schwartz||Jim Caldwell||Schwartz was fired on December 30, 2013 after a 1–6 stumble to end the 2013 season despite having led the NFC North earlier in the season. He finished with a 29–51 record over five seasons. Schwartz joined the Buffalo Bills as defensive coordinator. Caldwell was hired as head coach on January 14. He previously was head coach for the Indianapolis Colts from 2009–2011 and finished with a 26–22 record. For the last year and a half, he was the Baltimore Ravens' offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.|
|Minnesota Vikings||Leslie Frazier||Mike Zimmer||Frazier was fired on December 30, 2013 after more than three seasons as Vikings head coach, ending 2013 with a 5–10–1 record, and his tenure with Minnesota at 21–32–1. Frazier joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as defensive coordinator. Zimmer was hired on January 15 and this is his first head-coaching position. He had been the defensive coordinator of the Cincinnati Bengals since 2008. He was also the defensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons in 2007 and the Dallas Cowboys from 2000 to 2006.|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Greg Schiano||Lovie Smith||Schiano and GM Mark Dominik were fired on December 30, 2013. Schiano was 11–21 as head coach over two seasons. Smith, a former Buccaneers assistant, served as the head coach of the Chicago Bears from 2004–2012.|
|Tennessee Titans||Mike Munchak||Ken Whisenhunt||Munchak was fired on January 4, 2014 after three seasons as Titans head coach, ending his 32-season tenure with the team. He was 22–26 as head coach. Munchak joined the Pittsburgh Steelers as offensive line coach. Whisenhunt was previously the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals from 2007 to 2012, compiling a record of 45–51, and served as the offensive coordinator of the San Diego Chargers in 2013.|
|Washington Redskins||Mike Shanahan||Jay Gruden||Shanahan and his staff (except for defensive coordinator Jim Haslett) were fired on December 30, 2013 after a 3–13 record in 2013 and a 24–40 career regular season record with the Redskins. Gruden, who had spent the past two seasons as the offensive coordinator of the Cincinnati Bengals, had previously served as head coach of the Florida Tuskers of the UFL and Orlando Predators of the AFL.|
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