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'Thursday Night Football' features quality matchups

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Thursday Night Football is bigger than ever.

Once exclusively on NFL Network, TNF's weekly slate of primetime tilts will be available to viewers across multiple networks and platforms in 2016.

CBS and NBC will each air five Thursday Night Football games, while all TNF broadcasts will continue to be simulcast on NFL Network. NFL Network will also exclusively televise an eight-game schedule of Thursday showdowns and two late-season games on Saturday. Also, for the first time in our proud human history, the NFL will live-stream 10 Thursday night affairs on Twitter.

2016 Schedule Release

I know, I know ... you came here to see the schedule, so let's get down to it with a week-by-week look at what's ahead.

Week 2 (Sept. 15): New York Jets at Buffalo Bills, 8:25 p.m. ET, CBS/NFLN/Twitter

After the Broncos host Carolina in the Kickoff Game, Thursday Night Football launches in earnest with a juicy AFC East battle of wills. What's not to like about Gang Green facing Rex Ryan's Bills? The question is whether or not Ryan Fitzpatrick will be under center for a Jets team looking to continue what they started during last year's promising 10-win campaign.

Week 3 (Sept. 22): Houston Texans at New England Patriots, 8:25 p.m., CBS/NFLN/Twitter

Brock Osweiler won't be taken lightly by the Patriots after he helped Denver to an overtime win against New England last season. Now entrenched with the Texans, Osweiler and star wideout DeAndre Hopkins will do their best to fell Bill Belichick's mighty Pats. We can't wait to see Tom Brady run an offense featuring Rob Gronkowski, Martellus Bennett, Julian Edelman and speedy satellite back Dion Lewis.

Week 4 (Sept. 29): Miami Dolphins at Cincinnati Bengals, 8:25 p.m., NFLN

The NFL will give fans an early look at new coach Adam Gase and his Dolphins offense. Miami also employs defensive coordinator Vance Joseph, who worked for years under Marvin Lewis in Cincy. Joseph knows Andy Dalton well and promises to have Mario Williams and the 'Fins ready to go.

Week 5 (Oct. 6): Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers, 8:25 p.m., CBS/NFLN/Twitter

This feels like a missed opportunity to pit the fascinating Cardinals against an NFC heavy, but the Niners -- if not talented -- remain intriguing because of new coach Chip Kelly. By Week 5, we'll have a good idea of how Kelly's players are adapting to his high-speed attack.

Week 6 (Oct. 13): Denver Broncos at San Diego Chargers, 8:25 p.m., CBS/NFLN/Twitter

We still have no idea what the Broncos will do at quarterback. So, this game features FILL IN THE BLANK SIGNAL-CALLER vs. Philip Rivers and San Diego's No. 3 overall draft pick. I simply refuse to believe we're getting 16 doses of Mark Sanchez next season. We've move beyond this as a people group and cannot allow it.

Week 7 (Oct. 20): Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers, 8:25 p.m., CBS/NFLN/Twitter

Aaron Rodgers typically makes mincemeat of the Bears, but we like Chicago's emerging defense under coordinator Vic Fangio. This game also gives us an opportunity to see second-year Bears wideout Kevin White play across from Alshon Jeffery.

Week 8 (Oct. 27): Jacksonville Jaguars at Tennessee Titans, 8:25 p.m., NFLN

This matchup was prime-time poison two seasons ago, but Blake Bortles and Marcus Mariota make this intriguing. After Jacksonville's aggressive dip into free agency and Tennessee's massive draft haul, we expect both clubs to be alive in the AFC South when this one kicks off.

Week 9 (Nov. 3): Atlanta Falcons at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 8:25 p.m., NFLN

It feels like eons since Tampa hosted a game under the lights. The NFC South is filled with quality quarterbacks and we'll see two of them when Matt Ryan's Falcons visit Jameis Winston and the up-and-coming Bucs.

Week 10 (Nov. 10): Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens, 8:25 p.m., NFLN

Putting the Browns on national television in mid-November is puzzling, but the hope is that Hue Jackson will coach up Cleveland beyond expectations. We have no doubt that Baltimore will have its act together for a matchup that -- on paper -- would feature Joe Flacco vs. either Robert Griffin III or one of the draft's prized rookie passers (or Austin Davis).

Week 11 (Nov. 17): New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers, 8:25 p.m., NBC/NFLN/Twitter

Drew Brees vs. Ace Boogie. Luke Kuechly and Max "Q Rating" Unger. Ron Rivera. Sean Payton. Various football players gathering in front of television cameras dabbing. Am I selling this correctly?

Week 13 (Dec. 1): Dallas Cowboys at Minnesota Vikings, 8:25 p.m., NBC/NFLN/Twitter

The Dallas Cowboys could go 1-15 for the next two-hundred years and still land five prime-time games without fail. Still, Tony Romo vs. Teddy Bridgewater looks like a good matchup between two teams with dreams of Super Bowl LI.

Week 14 (Dec. 8): Oakland Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs, 8:25 p.m., NBC/NFLN/Twitter

It's been years since this classic rivalry delivered the goods. The Raiders, though, have the parts in place to compete in the AFC West. This game could go a long way toward deciding who gets an invite to the postseason party -- and who spends January on the couch.

Week 15 (Dec. 15): Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks, 8:25 p.m., NBC/NFLN/Twitter

The Rams did everyone a favor by trading up to No. 1. It all but guarantees that we'll see either Carson Wentz or Jared Goff take on Richard Sherman and the Seahawks. CUT TO: Case Keenum staring into the void, pondering the agony of adulthood.

Week 15 (Dec. 17): Miami Dolphins at New York Jets, (Saturday) 8:25 p.m., NFLN

Three cheers for Saturday football! The hope is that Miami and New York will still be alive and fighting for the playoffs when they square off in Gotham. The pairing of Ryan Tannehill and Gase gives us hope that the 'Fins won't be a comprehensive mess by Week 15.

Week 16 (Dec. 22): New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles, 8:25 p.m., NBC/NFLN/Twitter

The big question here is who will be under center for the Eagles vs. THE ONLY MANNING LEFT. Will it be Sam Bradford, Chase Daniel -- or will Philly move up in the draft for a rookie QB? Whoever starts will face a Giants defense now laced with pass rusher Olivier Vernon and cover man Janoris Jenkins.

Week 16 (Dec. 24): Cincinnati Bengals at Houston Texans, (Saturday) 8:25 p.m., NFLN

With two games on Christmas Day and a massive slate on Christmas Eve, the NFL has ensured that sportswriters will have plenty of explaining to do on the home front this holiday season. That's OK, though, this intriguing bout between Osweiler and Andy Dalton completely makes up for it.

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