Here is the list of all of the primetime games scheduled for the 2012 NFL season. Commentary to follow…
Wednesday, September 5 – Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants – 8:20 PM ET – NBC
Sunday, September 9 – Pittsburgh Steelers at Denver Broncos – 8:20 PM ET – NBC
Monday, September 10 – Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens – 7 PM ET – ESPN
Monday, September 10 – San Diego Chargers at Oakland Raiders – 10:15 PM ET – ESPN
Thursday, September 13 – Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers – 8:20 PM ET – NFL Network
Sunday, September 16 – Detroit Lions at San Francisco 49ers – 8:20 PM ET – NBC
Monday, September 17 – Denver Broncos at Atlanta Falcons – 8:30 PM ET – ESPN
Thursday, September 20 – New York Giants at Carolina Panthers – 8:20 PM ET – NFL Network
Sunday, September 23 – New England Patriots at Baltimore Ravens – 8:20 PM ET – NBC
Monday, September 24 – Green Bay Packers at Seattle Seahawks – 8:30 PM ET – ESPN
Thursday, September 27 – Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens – 8:20 PM ET – NFL Network
Sunday, September 30 – New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles – 8:20 PM ET – NBC
Monday, October 1 – Chicago Bears at Dallas Cowboys – 8:30 PM ET – ESPN
Thursday, October 4 – Arizona Cardinals at St. Louis Rams – 8:20 PM ET – NFL Network
Sunday, October 7 – San Diego Chargers at New Orleans Saints – 8:20 PM ET – NBC
Monday, October 8 – Houston Texans at New York Jets – 8:30 PM ET – ESPN
Thursday, October 11 – Pittsburgh Steelers at Tennessee Titans – 8:20 PM ET – NFL Network
Sunday, October 14 – Green Bay Packers at Houston Texans – 8:20 PM ET – NBC
Monday, October 15 – Denver Broncos at San Diego Chargers – 8:30 PM ET – ESPN
Thursday, October 18 – Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers – 8:20 PM ET – NFL Network
Sunday, October 21 – Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals – 8:20 PM ET – NBC
Monday, October 22 – Detroit Lions at Chicago Bears – 8:30 PM ET – ESPN
Thursday, October 25 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Minnesota Vikings – 8:20 PM ET – NFL Network
Sunday, October 28 – New Orleans Saints at Denver Broncos – 8:20 PM ET – NBC
Monday, October 29 – San Francisco 49ers at Arizona Cardinals – 8:30 PM ET – ESPN
Thursday, November 1 – Kansas City Chiefs at San Diego Chargers – 8:20 PM ET – NFL Network
Sunday, November 4 – Dallas Cowboys at Atlanta Falcons – 8:20 PM ET – NBC
Monday, November 5 – Philadelphia Eagles at New Orleans Saints – 8:30 PM ET – ESPN
Thursday, November 8 – Indianapolis Colts at Jacksonville Jaguars – 8:20 PM ET – NFL Network
Sunday, November 11 – Houston Texans at Chicago Bears – 8:20 PM ET – NBC
Monday, November 12 – Kansas City Chiefs at Pittsburgh Steelers – 8:30 PM ET – ESPN
Thursday, November 15 – Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills – 8:20 PM ET – NFL Network
Sunday, November 18 – Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers – 8:20 PM ET – NBC
Monday, November 19 – Chicago Bears at San Francisco 49ers – 8:30 PM ET – ESPN
Thursday, November 22 (Thanksgiving) – New England Patriots at New York Jets – 8:20 PM ET – NBC
Sunday, November 25 – Green Bay Packers at New York Giants – 8:20 PM ET – NBC
Monday, November 26 – Carolina Panthers at Philadelphia Eagles – 8:30 PM ET – ESPN
Thursday, November 29 – New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons – 8:20 PM ET – NFL Network
Sunday, December 2 – Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys – 8:20 PM ET – NBC
Monday, December 3 – New York Giants at Washington Redskins – 8:30 PM ET – ESPN
Thursday, December 6 – Denver Broncos at Oakland Raiders – 8:20 PM ET – NFL Network
Sunday, December 9 – Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers – 8:20 PM ET – NBC
Monday, December 10 – Houston Texans at New England Patriots – 8:30 PM ET – ESPN
Thursday, December 13 – Cincinnati Bengals at Philadelphia Eagles – 8:20 PM ET – NFL Network
Sunday, December 16 – San Francisco 49ers at New England Patriots – 8:20 PM ET – NBC
Monday, December 17 – New York Jets at Tennessee Titans – 8:30 PM ET – ESPN
Saturday, December 22 – Atlanta Falcons at Detroit Lions – 8:30 PM ET – ESPN
Sunday, December 23 – San Diego Chargers at New York Jets – 8:20 PM ET – NBC
Sunday, December 30 – [Teams to be determined following Week 16] – 8:20 PM ET – NBC
TEAMS WITH FIVE PRIMETIME GAMES: Chicago Bears, Denver Broncos, San Diego Chargers, Philadelphia Eagles, San Francisco 49ers, New York Giants, Green Bay Packers, Pittsburgh Steelers.
TEAMS WITH FOUR PRIMETIME GAMES: Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, Dallas Cowboys, Detroit Lions, Houston Texans, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, New York Jets.
TEAMS WITH THREE PRIMETIME GAMES: Cincinnati Bengals.
TEAMS WITH TWO PRIMETIME GAMES: Arizona Cardinals, Carolina Panthers, Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders, Seattle Seahawks, Tennessee Titans.
TEAMS WITH ONE PRIMETIME GAME: Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings, St. Louis Rams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Washington Redskins.
Well, I guess I came up a bit short with my predictions of six primetime games for the Jets and the Cowboys. As it turns out, they didn’t even get five primetime games.
But what shocks me the most is the fact that one of the Jets’ primetime games is not against the Jaguars. It’s currently scheduled for Sunday, December 9 at 1 PM ET on CBS – but there’s a good possibility that it could be flexed to Sunday night. You’ve got to give the NFL credit for scheduling it this late in the season: not because it could be flexed to NBC if need be, but as it even says right on the NFL.com splash page for the 2012 Jaguars schedule, “Tebow could be the Jets’ starting quarterback” by then!
The Jaguars will get one primetime game (at least I got that prediction right) – but it’ll be against the Colts, who will also play their lone primetime game in Jacksonville. Dolphins/Bills and Buccaneers/Vikings are two other primetime matchups that pretty much uphold the “at least one primetime game for each team, guaranteed” quota.
Also, I was generally right about the Broncos, with Peyton Manning under center for the first time, opening the season on “Sunday Night Football.” I wrote yesterday that the Steelers and Texans matchups were ripe for primetime, and while I personally hoped the Broncos would open against the Texans, for reasons I previously explained (for the record, they’ll meet in Week 3), it looks like the Steelers will indeed square off against Peyton and his new crew at Mile High.
Speaking of the Broncos, another strong prediction of mine was that the Broncos’ matchup with the Patriots would be scheduled for Thanksgiving night on NBC. I was half-right: the Patriots will be in the mix, but instead, it’ll be against the division rival New York Jets, and Gang Green’s first Thanksgiving game since they hosted Cincinnati just a few years ago.
As for that Patriots/Broncos game… yes, it’ll be on CBS, and so early in the season (Week 5) that it certainly wouldn’t be flexed into “Sunday Night Football.” I wonder if Robert Kraft had a hand in this decision, too?
Oh, those Broncos… I wrote yesterday that I was waffling between four and five primetime games, and since they actually got five, I’ll claim that as another accurate prediction. I’m actually surprised that teams like the Bears and the Chargers got five games. Both of these teams missed the playoffs last year. You figured the Eagles – who really missed the playoffs badly last year – would get their customary five primetime games, no matter what. But the Chargers? Who were thisclose to firing their head coach and general manager? If that went down, we would probably be talking about how the Chargers got two primetime games or less.
And yes, based on comments posted on my previous post, I am aware that teams traditionally get five primetime games at most when the schedule is first released, with a sixth coming by way of Sunday night “flexing” (which is how the Cowboys accomplished that feat last year). My point was, rules were made to be updated. You can bet the maximum number of primetime games will be altered somewhere down the road. How soon, I’m not sure. But with more primetime games being schedule, comes more opportunities to play in primetime. Let’s face it: Would you rather watch the Bears or the Browns? (And for the record, I don’t know if he was joking or not, but Andrew Siciliano, within the hour before the schedule being released, said on “Total Access” during an item on the Broncos that he believed they’d “max out with six primetime games”. Maybe he expects the maximum to be updated, too.)
Of the eight teams with five primetime appearances, three of these teams (Giants, Packers, Steelers) appear three times on “Sunday Night Football”; this includes the Wednesday, September 5 season opener against the Cowboys, who will also make three NBC appearances, as will the Patriots (this includes Thanksgiving). Of course, these are all subject to change, thanks to “flex scheduling”. Also, the Bears will appear three times on “Monday Night Football”, with the 49ers, Broncos, Chargers and Eagles each appearing twice on “MNF,” as will the Jets, Falcons, Lions and Texans – accounting for half of their four primetime appearances in 2012. And every team appears on NFL Network just once. (Of course, NFLN games are simulcast on local broadcast outlets in the cities of the teams playing.)
And there is one lone Saturday night game: it’ll be on ESPN on December 22. This explains why there is no Monday night game on Christmas Eve. Funny, the NFL had no problem playing games on Christmas in recent years. Heck, they played fourteen games on Christmas Eve last year.
All that being written… just 141 days left until all of these games are finally played for your viewing (and gambling, if you prefer) enjoyment.