The 2015 Uni Watch NFL preview

Another September, another NFL season -- and that means another round of uniform changes.

Only one team, the Browns, received a full makeover for this season, but there are still plenty of new throwbacks, new alternates, new patches and new helmet decals, along with the league's season-long celebration of the Super Bowl's 50th anniversary, which will have a visual impact on literally every single game.

In other words, there's a lot to keep track of out there. With the season set to kick off Thursday, here's our annual team-by-team survey of what you can expect to see on the gridiron, broken down by division. (For a condensed version of the season's best and worst uni-related developments, LOOK HERE.)

Jump to a division:

AFC: East | North | South | West NFC: East | North | South | West

AFC East

Bills: No announced changes or news, but there's a good chance they'll have their "standing buffalo" throwbacks in the rotation at some point.

• This is the 50th season for the Dolphins, and they're celebrating with a jersey patch. The two stars represent the team's two Super Bowl titles (there is also a white version for the team's white jersey):

In addition, the Dolphins have unveiled a throwback uniform, which they'll wear for their Monday night game against the Giants on Dec. 14. If you think the throwbacks look better than the team's current set, you're not alone (additional photos here):

• Two Jets players have added Roman numerals to their nameplates: Safety Calvin Pryor now wears "Pryor III" (sorry, no photo of that one) and linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin has "Mauldin IV" (further info in the middle of this page):

• Last year the Patriots changed the logo in their end zones. This year they've made the corresponding change to their jerseys:

AFC North

Bengals: No announced changes or news.

• This season's big makeover is for the Browns, and unfortunately it's a bust. The new brown face mask is OK, but everything else is a downgrade, from the high school-ish "Cleveland" on the chest to the outsized sleeve stripes and -- especially -- the big, honking lettering down the pant legs, which looks like it belongs in an arena league:

• This year marks the 20th season since the original Browns moved from Cleveland to Baltimore and became the Ravens, and the team is commemorating the milestone with a jersey patch:

Also, safety Will Hill is now Will Hill III, at least on the back of his jersey:

• The Steelers will wear their bumblebee throwbacks on Nov. 1 against the Bengals:

Also, as per their annual custom, the Steelers didn't wear their front helmet numbers during preseason games. This is standard procedure -- the numbers will be added when the regular season begins:

AFC South

Colts: No announced changes or news.

Jaguars: No announced changes or news.

• The Texans will wear white at home for the season-opening game against the Chiefs on Sept. 13. They'll also wear mono-blue on Nov. 1 against the Titans and break out their red alternates on Dec. 13 against the Pats (plus you can see their rest of their home uniform schedule here):

• Upgrade for the Titans, who are flip-flopping the designations of their colored jerseys. The navy design, which had been the alternate, is now the primary, and the light-blue design is now the alternate and will be worn once this season (no word yet on which game that will be):

Also, the Titans have changed their nose bumper logo from flat to raised -- a small but real improvement:

And if you follow cheerleaders uniforms, the Titans have a new design on that front as well:

In addition, the Titans have added a memorial decal for longtime scout C.O. Brocato, who recently passed away. It was worn for the team's final preseason game and also will appear for Tennessee's regular-season opener against the Buccaneers on Sept. 13, after which it will be removed:

AFC West

• The Broncos will wear their blue alternate jerseys twice this season -- once with white pants (on Nov. 1 against the Packers) and once with blue pants (on Dec. 13 against the Raiders):

• The Chargers will retire LaDainian Tomlinson's No. 21 during halftime of the Sunday night game against the Chiefs on Nov. 22.

Chiefs: No announced changes or news, although it wouldn't be surprising to see them once again go mono-red for a game or two.

• It's a little hard to see, and most fans won't even notice, but the Raiders have upgraded to Nike's Elite 51 tailoring template and fabric (which most of the league has been using since 2012). Thankfully, they've opted not to use the Flywire collar, so the only visible difference will be in the seam placement:

NFC East

• Last year the Cowboys had a problem with the Flywire collars on their white jerseys, several of which turned blue. The problem began afflicting a few players around Week 6 and spread to more and more of the team as the season progressed. The team's explanation was that blue dye from the uniform numbers was somehow bleeding out in the laundry and being picked up by the collars (although it's not clear why the collar bands would be so susceptible to this problem or why no other teams were similarly afflicted). You'd think things would be different this year, and they are -- this time the collars began turning blue during the preseason! Take a look (additional photos and info here):

• The Eagles have added a "60" memorial helmet decal for legendary two-way player Chuck Bednarik:

• The Giants have posted their week-by-week uniform schedule (why doesn't every team do this?), the most notable aspect of which is that they'll wear their alternate white pants for two home games -- Sept. 24 against Washington and Nov. 15 against New England:

Also, the Giants will wear two memorials this season. The first is a "16" decal for Hall of Famer Frank Gifford:.

The other memorial is jersey patch for team matriarch Ann Mara. No visuals yet on that one.

And one final Giants note: Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has switched uniform numbers, from 21 to 41, so rookie safety Landon Collins can wear 21 in honor of his idol, Sean Taylor.

• No changes for Washington, but it's worth noting that Kirk Cousins, newly anointed as the team's starting quarterback, is among the handful of players who wear a silicone "sport wedding band" on the field (further details about these silicone rings here, and there's more on athletes wearing wedding bands on the field here):

NFC North

• The Bears have posted their uniform schedule, which shows that they'll be wearing their "Monsters of the Midway" throwbacks for the season-opening game against the Packers on Sept. 13, and also against the 49ers on Dec. 6:

• Last year the Lions added a "WCF" memorial patch for former owner William Clay Ford. It was originally thought that the patch would be worn for only one season, but it's being retained for 2015, so this may end up being a perma-memorial, like the ones worn by the Bears, Raiders and Chiefs:

In addition, the Lions will be adding a memorial helmet decal for Hall of Fame tight end Charlie Sanders. No visuals yet on the decal, which wasn't worn during the preseason.

Also: The Lions will not be wearing an alternate jersey this season, although they may add one for 2016.

• The Packers have scrapped their Acme Packers throwbacks and replaced them with a new throwback design, which will be worn on Oct. 18 against the Chargers:

Interestingly, this uniform is extremely similar to the throwback that the Packers wore to celebrate the NFL's 75th anniversary in 1994. So it's actually a throwback of a throwback!

• You know how the Vikings have that weird jersey numbering system with the tens digits and ones digits in two different fonts? That protocol is now being applied to their yard line markers:

NFC South

• The Buccaneers are marking their 40th season in the league with a jersey patch (further info here):

• The Falcons are another team marking a milestone season -- their 50th. They have an anniversary logo, which will be worn as a patch when the regular season starts:

• The Panthers have posted their jersey schedule for 2015. Also, linebacker Thomas Davis has added "SR" to his nameplate this season, at his son's request (further info here):

• The Saints have listed their jersey colors for all 10 of their home games (including their two preseason dates) on their season tickets. Interestingly, they've chosen to wear white for their first three regular-season home games, and then they're going with black for the remainder of their home schedule:

NFC West

Cardinals: No announced changes or news, although they'll presumably be wearing their black alternates at some point during the season.

• All signs point to this being a tough year for the 49ers, and their new black alternate uniform isn't exactly going to help matters. Man, what a stinker (additional photos here, and there's a full Uni Watch review here):

The black uni will make its on-field debut for the season-opening game against the Vikings next Monday night. Meanwhile, the black color scheme is also reflected in the team's new end zone design:

In addition, the Niners have added a "79" memorial helmet decal for Hall of Fame lineman Bob St. Clair:

(Incidentally, the decal underneath the "79" is USA Football's "Heads Up" logo, which all teams wore during the preseason. It will be removed for the regular season.)

And one final Niners note: You may have heard that running back Jarryd Hayne is a former professional rugby player from Australia. What you might not know is that he's wearing No. 38 because it was the first number issued to him during his rugby career:

Rams: No announced changes or news, although they'll likely break out their "Greatest Show on Turf" throwbacks for a home game or two.

• The Seahawks are the latest team to go with 3-D lettering on their nose bumper:

Also, the Seahawks have been practicing in lime green jerseys, which has some fans wondering if the green game jerseys from 2009 might be making a reappearance:

Additional notes

• For more than half a century now, NFL games have always featured one team wearing colored jerseys and one team wearing white. The original idea behind this was to ensure that there was enough contrast for fans watching the games on black-and-white TV sets -- a rationale that's obviously moot these days. So now the NFL is taking the long-overdue step of experimenting with color-on-color games for its Thursday night schedule. The color-on-color format will be optional for this season's Thursday night slate and will become mandatory next year. This seems like a good move, as long as the colors involved have enough contrast. Obviously, you don't want the orange-clad Broncos playing the red-jerseyed Chiefs, but imagine the Giants' blue sharing the field with Washington's burgundy, or the Packers in green against the Bengals in orange -- mmmm, tasty.

• This season will culminate in Super Bowl 50 (remember, they're using Arabic numerals for this one), and the NFL is celebrating the big game's golden anniversary with all sorts of gold-based initiatives. For starters, the 50-yard line markers will be gold all season long:

In addition, the NFL logo is being rendered in gold for many applications, including in end zones and on the players' waistband towels (but not on jerseys or pants, where it will retain its familiar red, white and blue color scheme):

And there's still more. Beginning with Week 7, sideline caps, jackets and other gear will feature gold-trimmed team logos:

For further details on the gold program, look here.

• In keeping with this season's gold theme, the uniforms for the 2016 Pro Bowl will be gold-trimmed. Of course, it helps when you put gold helmets, like those worn by the Saints and 49ers, on the mannequins:

• Players will once again wear pink accessories and pink ribbon decals to raise awareness of breast cancer. Expect to see the pink gear in Weeks 4, 5 and 6.

• All players also will wear camouflage ribbon decals during Weeks 9, 10 and 11, as part of the NFL's Salute to Service program.

• As we all learned during Deflategate, NFL teams provide their own footballs for their offensive possessions. This season those balls will carry team logos:

• It's too soon for this season's Super Bowl patch design to have been released, but we may have gotten a sneak peek from this video game screen shot:

• Finally, there's a good story about the NFL's famously stringent uniform rules here.

And that's a wrap. Did we miss anything? If so, you know what to do.

Paul Lukas, a lifelong 49ers fan, will try to find something else to do when the Niners wear those black uniforms. If you liked this column, you'll probably like his Uni Watch Blog, plus you can follow him on Twitter and Facebook. Want to learn about his Uni Watch Membership Program, be added to his mailing list so you'll always know when a new column has been posted or just ask him a question? Contact him here.