The NFL announced today its 17-week, 256-game regular-season schedule for 2007, which kicks off on Thursday night, September 6 and concludes on Sunday, December 30.
In a format introduced in 2004, the Super Bowl champion hosts the NFL Thursday night season kickoff the next year.
This season, Super Bowl XLII – concluding the season-long theme of "Who Wants It More?" – will be played at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona on February 3, 2008.
The 2007 NFL Kickoff Weekend schedule:
NFL KICKOFF 2007 WEEKEND
Thursday, September 6 LOCAL EASTERN
Sunday, September 9 LOCAL EASTERN
Monday, September 10
NBC will carry two primetime games on Kickoff Weekend (Thursday and Sunday nights) for a season total of 17 primetime games (the opening Thursday night kickoff and 16 Sunday Night Football games). The Sunday night Kickoff Weekend game will feature a division rivalry of 2006 playoff teams as the New York Giants travel to the Dallas Cowboys, under new head coach WADE PHILLIPS.
ESPN will begin its Monday Night Football schedule with a doubleheader on Kickoff Weekend – the Baltimore Ravens at the Cincinnati Bengals (7:00 PM ET) and the Arizona Cardinals at the San Francisco 49ers (10:15 PM ET). Then ESPN will televise one Monday night game for the next 15 weeks. There will continue to be no Monday night game on the final regular-season weekend (Week 17), enhancing the ability to schedule the opening weekend of the NFL playoffs.
The season again will utilize "flexible scheduling," in Weeks 11-17.
In those weeks, the schedule lists the games tentatively set for Sunday night on NBC. Only Sunday afternoon games are eligible to be moved to Sunday night, in which case the tentatively scheduled Sunday night game will be moved to an afternoon start time. Flexible scheduling will not be applied to games airing on Thursday, Saturday or Monday nights.
A flexible scheduling move will be announced at least 12 days before the game. For Week 17, the change may be announced six days before the game. Flexible scheduling will ensure quality matchups on Sunday night in those weeks and give "surprise" teams a chance to play their way onto primetime.
The Thanksgiving weekend will include an NFL tripleheader on Thursday, as it did last year, and the start of an eightgame NFL Network primetime schedule.
The Indianapolis-Atlanta game will be the first of eight Thursday and/or Saturday night games televised by NFL Network in Weeks 12-17. The final three will be on holiday weekends. On Thursday, December 20 (8:15 PM ET), Pittsburgh will play at St. Louis. On Saturday, December 22 (8:15 PM ET), Dallas will be at Carolina. And on Saturday, December 29 (8:15 PM ET), New England will travel to the New York Giants.
In Week 16, 12 games will be played on Sunday afternoon, December 23. That night on NBC, Tampa Bay is scheduled to visit San Francisco. And on Monday, December 24, ESPN will carry the Denver at San Diego game at 8:00 PM ET.
With the NFL's 32 teams each playing 16 games over 17 weeks, byes are scheduled for Weeks 4 through 10. The 2007 playoffs will include four division winners and two wild cards from each conference. The playoffs begin with Wild Card Weekend on Saturday and Sunday, January 5-6. The two division winners with the best records in each conference will earn first-round byes.
Wild Card Weekend winners join the top four AFC and NFC division champions in the Divisional Playoffs on Saturday and Sunday, January 12-13. The AFC and NFC Championship Games will be played on Sunday, January 20. The winners meet two weeks later on Sunday, February 3 in Glendale, Arizona in Super Bowl XLII. The postseason concludes with the AFC All-Stars vs. the NFC All-Stars in the Pro Bowl on Sunday, February 10 in Honolulu, Hawaii.
CBS will present the AFC, the AFC playoffs, and the AFC Championship Game. FOX will carry NFC games, the NFC playoffs, the NFC Championship Game, Super Bowl XLII and the Pro Bowl. The 64 AFC-NFC interconference games (excluding primetime) are carried by CBS when the AFC team is the visitor and by FOX when the NFC team is on the road. All postseason games are televised nationally.
In addition to its Sunday night package, NBC will televise a Wild Card playoff doubleheader on Saturday, January 5. By NFL policy, ESPN and NFL Network games also will be carried on free, over-the-air television in the city of the visiting team and in the city where the game is played if it is sold out 72 hours in advance of kickoff.
The NFL is the only sports league that carries all regular-season and postseason games on free, over-the-air television. Westwood One radio will broadcast all NFL primetime games, the three Thanksgiving Day games and the entire NFL postseason.