Indianapolis will open this season at AFC champion Denver in a Sunday night showdown pitting quarterback Peyton Manning against his former team.
It’s the second time Manning has faced the Colts. Indy won the first meeting, 39-33, in October.
It’s one of four prime-time games for the defending AFC South champs, who received their schedule Wednesday.
Indy opens the season Sept. 7, then hosts Philadelphia in a Monday night game Sept. 15. The Colts will play at Houston in a Thursday night game Oct. 9 and will host New England in another Sunday night game on Nov. 16.
The Colts also are scheduled for two late afternoon games, at Pittsburgh on Oct. 26 and at Dallas on Dec. 21.
Meanwhile, the Chicago Bears will open their second season under Marc Trestman at Soldier Field against the Buffalo Bills on Sept. 7.
The Bears then hit the road for four of their next five games. They play the 49ers in San Francisco then head east to play the Jets in New Jersey.
The Bears are home the following week for the Green Bay Packers, then head south to play the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte and the Falcons in Atlanta.
The Bears host the Miami Dolphins before hitting the road again to play the New England Patriots and the Packers. The Bears play the Lions in Detroit on Thanksgiving.
Five of their last seven games will be at Soldier Field, including games against the Cowboys and the Saints.
The season kicks off on Sept. 4 when the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks host the Green Bay Packers on Sept. 4.
It’s the third straight season the Packers have traveled to face the defending Super Bowl champions.
“It’s a tremendous opportunity for our football team,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “We have experience playing in the kickoff opener three years ago, and we will draw on that. Obviously, being the visiting team this time presents new challenges. It will help sharpen our focus even more during training camp and the preseason.”
That Thursday game is the first of four prime-time games on opening weekend. Also at night will be a Sunday matchup of AFC champion Denver and Peyton Manning hosting his former team, Indianapolis; and a Monday night doubleheader with the New York Giants at Detroit, followed by San Diego at Arizona.
The NFL will play three games in London: Dolphins-Raiders on Sept. 28; Lions-Falcons on Oct. 26; and Cowboys-Jaguars on Nov. 9. The Detroit-Atlanta game will kick off at 9:30 a.m. ET in an experiment to test the NFL’s audience draw on a Sunday morning.
A Saturday doubleheader in Week 16 has San Diego at San Francisco and Philadelphia at Washington.
For the first time, games in Weeks 5 through 10 can be flexed from Sunday afternoon to night, with a limit of two. Beginning with Week 11, a Sunday game can be moved to prime time each week. Also, a select number of Sunday afternoon games are being “cross-flexed,” moving between CBS and Fox to potentially draw more viewers.
The Thanksgiving tripleheader features three strong division rivalries: Chicago at Detroit, Philadelphia at Dallas, and Seattle at San Francisco, a rematch of the memorable NFC title game last January.
Looking for the latest installment of Manning vs. Tom Brady? The Patriots host it on Sunday afternoon, Nov. 2.
And for those looking for the rematch of the Super Bowl, Seattle’s 43-8 rout of Denver, it’s on Sept. 21 at Seattle. Denver opens the season against three 2013 playoff teams: Indianapolis and Kansas City at home, then at the Seahawks.
2014 Colts schedule
Sept. 7 — at Denver, 8:30 p.m. (NBC)
Sept. 15 — Philadelphia, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Sept. 21 — at Jacksonville, 1 p.m. (CBS)
Sept. 28 — Tennessee, 1 p.m. (CBS)
Oct. 5 — Baltimore, 1 p.m. (CBS)
Oct. 9 — at Houston, 8:25 p.m. (CBS)
Oct. 19 — Cincinnati, 1 p.m. (CBS)
Oct. 26 — at Pittsburgh, 4:25 p.m. (CBS)
Nov. 3 — at N.Y. Giants, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Nov. 9 — bye week
Nov. 16 — New England, 8:30 p.m. (NBC)
Nov. 23 — Jacksonville, 1 p.m. (CBS)
Nov. 30 — Washington, 1 p.m. (FOX)
Dec. 7 — at Cleveland, 1 p.m. (CBS)
Dec. 14 — Houston, 1 p.m. (CBS)
Dec. 21 — at Dallas, 4:25 p.m. (CBS)
Dec. 28 — at Tennessee, 1 p.m. (CBS)