Sunday Night Football Returns
It will be the losers of last year’s AFC and NFC championship games that meet in this season’s first Sunday Night Football matchup. New England will travel to Arizona to face the Cardinals on Sunday, September 11 kicking off a strong Sunday night schedule. Both teams lost in their conference championship and their offseason actions lead many to believe that both could find themselves right back in that championship game again.
There are a number of great Sunday night matchups this season, several of which that could become instant classics. Here’s a look at the top matchups on 2016 NFL Sunday Night Football.
Week 2: Green Bay @ Minnesota
After the Patriots-Cardinals play in Week 1, the second week of the season offers up an NFC North showdown between last year’s division champ and the Packers, who won the title the previous four seasons. The Vikings have quietly put together one of the NFL’s better defenses and Adrian Peterson is still the best running back in the league.
Sunday Night Football Schedule
The Thursday Night Football schedule simulcasted on NFL Network as well as NBC:
Sept. 11: Week 1 - New England Patriots at Arizona Cardinals
Sept. 18: Week 2 - Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings
Sept. 25: Week 3 - Chicago Bears at Dallas Cowboys
Oct. 2: Week 4 - Kansas City Chiefs at Pittsburgh Steelers
Oct. 9: Week 5 - New York Giants at Green Bay Packers
Oct. 16: Week 6 - Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans
Oct. 23: Week 7 - Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals
Oct. 30: Week 8 - Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys
Nov. 6: Week 9 - Denver Broncos at Oakland Raiders
Nov. 13: Week 10 - Seattle Seahawks at New England Patriots
Nov. 20: Week 11 - Green Bay Packers at Washington Redskins
Nov. 27: Week 12 - New England Patriots at New York Jets
Dec. 4: Week 13 - Carolina Panthers at Seattle Seahawks
Dec. 11: Week 14 - Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants
Dec. 18: Week 15 - Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals
Dec. 25: Week 16 - Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs
Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater continues to improve. The Packers will welcome back WR Jordy Nelson who missed the entire season last year after tearing an ACL. Running back Eddie Lacy has slimmed down and hopes to recapture some of the magic he had in his first two NFL seasons. The winner of this one will have the early inside track toward winning the division.
Steelers Play Twice on Sunday Night
The Pittsburgh Steelers, who earned the sixth seed in the AFC playoffs last year, will play twice on Sunday Night Football. They will face the Chiefs, also a postseason qualifier last year, in Week 4 and, in a game that will surely have AFC playoff implications, Pittsburgh will travel to rival Cincinnati in Week 16 (Dec. 18). The Steelers will also face the Colts on Thanksgiving Night (Nov. 24).
Another Super Bowl Rematch
The 2016 season kicks off on a Thursday night with a rematch of Super Bowl 50. Sunday Night Football will feature a rematch of Super Bowl XLIX on November 13 when Seattle travels to Foxborough to take on New England. The Patriots lost in last year’s AFC title game while Seattle lost in the Divisional Round to Carolina, the eventual NFC champion. Both teams are primed once again to make another postseason run. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has shown no signs of slowing down as he heads into his 16th NFL season. New England acquired TE Martellus Bennett from the Bears to pair with the league’s best in Rob Gronkowski. The Seahawks will once again have one of the NFL’s best defenses. Seattle led the league in scoring defense last season.
Important Divisional Matchups to Close the Season
Four of the final five weeks of the season feature Sunday night games that will impact divisional races throughout the league. On Sunday, November 27, New England travels to New York to face the Jets. Last season, new head coach Todd Bowles guided the Jets to a 10-6 record. This year, Bowles and company want to challenge New England for AFC East supremacy. On Dec. 11, the Cowboys and Giants will square off in an important NFC East matchup and the following week is the already mentioned Steelers-Bengals matchup. Sunday Night Football ends the season on Christmas, Dec. 25, when Denver plays at Kansas City in a game between the two teams that will most likely contend for the AFC West title.
2016 NFL Football Season