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Promising Browns get five prime-time games

The NFL thinks the Browns are ready for prime time again.

After being left out of the league's marquee contests for years, the Browns will play in five nationally televised games -- three Monday night games, a Sunday night game and a Thursday night game.

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The Browns open the 2008 regular season at home against the Cowboys on Sunday Sept. 7, then host the Steelers in Week 2 in a Sunday night national TV game, the first of five nationally televised prime-time games the Browns will play.

The five national prime-time games are the most ever for the Browns, who haven't played on national television since 2006 and haven't played on Monday night since 2003. **Complete story ...**

Three of those games will be at home. The Browns host the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, Sept. 14, the New York Giants on Monday, Oct. 13, and the Denver Broncos on Thursday, Nov. 6.

"We are excited for our fans, the City of Cleveland and the Browns organization that we will have the opportunity to be showcased in front of a national audience on several occasions," Browns coach Romeo Crennel said in a statement.

The Browns also will play Monday night at Buffalo on Nov. 17 and Philadelphia on Dec. 15.

Cleveland's last appearance was on Monday Night Football was a home loss to St. Louis in 2003. But a 10-win season and a high-powered offense led by quarterback Derek Anderson has put them back in the spotlight.

The Browns will open at home for the ninth straight season, facing off against the Dallas Cowboys, who will make their first trip to Cleveland since 1991.

Cleveland's slate is much tougher than the last-place schedule it had last season. The Browns' 2008 opponents had a combined record of 137-119 (.535) last season, including two games against each division rival.

Seven of the 13 teams reached the playoffs, including the defending Super Bowl champion Giants. The Browns have a bye in Week 5, which will give them two weeks to prepare for New York in a Monday night game in Week 6.

Only four opponents had sub-.500 records last season -- Baltimore, Cincinnati, Buffalo and Denver.

"Our schedule presents us with many challenges against a number of talented teams, however we will continue to work hard throughout the offseason to prepare for the 2008 season," Crennel said.

The Browns will save on their travel budget with no West Coast games. Their longest road trips are to Tennessee and Jacksonville.

The regular season ends Dec. 28 at Pittsburgh where the Browns haven't won since 2003.

The Buffalo Bills will play in Toronto on Dec. 7 against Miami as part of an effort to expand their market to Canada.

This marks the first time the Bills will play during the regular season in Toronto, about a 1 1/2-hour drive from Buffalo. The game was one of the highlights of the NFL schedule released Tuesday.

The season opens Sept. 4 with Washington at the Super Bowl champion New York Giants, a game already announced along with three others from the opening weekend: Chicago at Indianapolis on Sunday night Sept. 7 and two games Monday night Sept 8: Minnesota at Green Bay and Denver at Oakland.

For the second consecutive year, a regular-season game will be played in London at Wembley Stadium, with New Orleans the "home" team against San Diego on Oct. 26. The Dolphins and Giants played there last season.

New England, which was upset in the Super Bowl by the Giants but has a record 19-game regular-season winning streak, will open at home against Kansas City on Sept. 7. In what has become an annual highlight game, Tom Brady and the Patriots will be at Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday night Nov. 2.

Washington Redskins coach Jim Zorn will make his return to Seattle just before Thanksgiving.

The longtime Seahawks quarterback and assistant coach will face his old team Nov. 23, one of the highlights of the Redskins' 2008 schedule announced Tuesday by the NFL.

"The league gave me an extra bonus in returning to Seattle to coach against my former team and great coach Mike Holmgren," Zorn said.

The first-year coach, hired in February to replace Joe Gibbs, will make his regular season debut in the previously announced Thursday night league opener on the road against the Super Bowl champion New York Giants on Sept. 4.

Even without Brett Favre, the NFL still considers the Green Bay Packers a prime-time attraction.

The Packers' 2008 schedule was released Tuesday and includes four nationally televised games. They will open the season Sept. 8 against Minnesota at Lambeau Field, the first of three Monday night appearances on ESPN.

Green Bay's other two Monday night games are on the road. They're at New Orleans on Nov. 24 and at Chicago on Dec. 22.

The Packers also are scheduled to make one Sunday night appearance on NBC. They'll play at home against Dallas on Sept. 21.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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