NFL 2015 Schedule Released: Champion Patriots Host Steelers In Kickoff

Despite a slew of off-field incidents, less-than-stellar PR and some Sunday night losses to The Walking Dead, the NFL proved again last year that it is a TV ratings juggernaut. Now the league is out with the upcoming season’s schedule, and it has stacked the Sunday, Monday and Thursday night lines with high-profile players and teams. The Super Bowl champion New England Patriots will face the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2015 kickoff game on Thursday, September 10. There’s also another Tom Brady-Peyton Manning showdown, the fourth year in a row in the regular season and 17th meeting overall. That will be Week 8 on NBC’s Sunday Night Football. (Mr. Gisele Bundchen leads 11-5, if you’re scoring along at home.) Check out the full primetime schedule below.

The league spread the wealth evenly, with eight teams tying for most primetime appearances (five). There will be primetime rematches of last season’s NFC and AFC Championship Games, and NBC has both: The Seattle Seahawks travel to the frozen tundra to meet the Green Bay Packers in Week 2, and the Patriots host the Indianapolis Colts in a meeting of generational star quarterback in Week 6. Thanksgiving will provide some delicious matchups this year, to wit: Philadelphia Eagles at Detroit Lions (12:30 PM ET on Fox), Carolina Panthers at Dallas Cowboys (4:30 PM ET on CBS) and Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers (8:30 PM ET on NBC).

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Among the changes in TV coverage this coming year is the lifting of the decades-old blackout rule. That archaic regulation, which the FCC abolished in 2014 anyway, was only used twice by the NFL in the past two seasons anyway. The league this year also will have its first game on a digital-only platform, when the Buffalo Bill and Jacksonville Jaguars square off in London.

NBC scored the most-watched TV program in U.S. history with the thrilling Super Bowl XLIX in February, which broke the record set the previous year. CBS has this season’s championship game, which finally will mark the league’s dumping of the Roman numerals. Seriously now: Would you get more fired up for Super Bowl 50 or Super Bowl L?

Now let’s hope the league can keep the attention on the field and avoid any Ray Rice- or Adrian Peterson-type scandals. Here’s the primetime schedule. Like last year, Sunday Night Football “flex” scheduling can begin after Week 5, at NBC’s whim.

Thursday Night Football (NBC Week 1; CBS/NFL Network simulcast Weeks 2-8; NFL Network Weeks 9-16)
Week 1: Steelers at Patriots
Week 2: Broncos at Chiefs
Week 3: Redskins at Giants
Week 4: Ravens at Steelers
Week 5: Colts at Texans
Week 6: Falcons at Saints
Week 7: Seahawks at 49ers
Week 8: Dolphins at Patriots
Week 9: Browns at Bengals
Week 10: Bills at Jets
Week 11: Titans at Jaguars
Week 12: Bears at Packers (Thanksgiving)
Week 13: Packers at Lions
Week 14: Vikings at Cardinals
Week 15: Buccaneers at Rams
Week 16: Chargers at Raiders

Sunday Night Football (NBC)
Week 1: Giants at Cowboys
Week 2: Seahawks at Packers
Week 3: Broncos at Lions
Week 4: Cowboys at Saints
Week 5: 49ers at Giants
Week 6: Patriots at Colts
Week 7: Eagles at Panthers
Week 8: Packers at Broncos
Week 9: Eagles at Cowboys
Week 10: Cardinals at Seahawks
Week 11: Chiefs at Chargers
Week 12: Patriots at Broncos
Week 13: Colts at Steelers
Week 14: Seahawks at Ravens
Week 15: Bengals at 49ers
Week 16: Steelers at Ravens
Week 17: TBA (flex game)

Monday Night Football (ESPN)
Week 1: Eagles at Falcons; Vikings at 49ers
Week 2: Jets at Colts
Week 3: Chiefs at Packers
Week 4: Lions at Seahawks
Week 5: Steelers at Chargers
Week 6: Giants at Eagles
Week 7: Ravens at Cardinals
Week 8: Colts at Panthers
Week 9: Bears at Chargers
Week 10: Texans at Bengals
Week 11: Bills at Patriots
Week 12: Ravens at Browns
Week 13: Cowboys at Redskins
Week 14: Giants at Dolphins
Week 15: Lions at Saints
Week 16: Bengals at Broncos

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