NFL releases 2013 regular-season schedule

The college football schedule became more or less finalized when the Mountain West schedule was released last Thursday and, with all the hype and hoopla you would expect from The National Football League, the NFL gave fans permission to make official plans for the fall with the release of its 2013 slate.

We'll link the entire schedule below, but first, here's what stood out to us among the 256 regular-season games:

- A change to opening night: Recent history demands that the defending Super Bowl champions open the new season at home on a Thursday night nationally-televised broadcast on NBC. The New York Giants opened last season at home against Dallas, Green Bay kicked off the 2011 season at Lambeau Field against New Orleans, and so on, dating back to 2004 when New England hosted Indianapolis after their second of three titles. Due to a scheduling conflict the Baltimore Orioles could not (or would not) resolve, Baltimore will open this season on the road at Denver on Thursday, Sept. 5. 

- A full-serving of Thursday nights: Beginning with Baltimore at Denver in Week 1, the NFL will offer 15 nights Thursday night football. NFL Network will show each game except Week 1 and Thanksgiving night (those games will be on NBC), which we'll get to below. The regular Thursday night slate begins Sept. 12 in Foxboro as the Patriots host the Jets, and concludes Dec. 12 with San Diego at Denver. Other games worth making time for (on paper, in April) include Kansas City at Philadelphia (Sept. 19), Washington at Minnesota (Nov. 7) and New Orleans at Atlanta (Nov. 21). 

- The biggest Thursday on the schedule: The NFL once again offers three games on Thanksgiving - Green Bay at Detroit (12:30 p.m. ET, Fox), Oakland at Dallas (4:30 p.m. ET, CBS) and Pittsburgh at Baltimore (8:30 p.m. ET, NBC).

- Sunday Night Football standouts: The official Sunday Night schedule gets underway with the Giants visiting Dallas on Sept. 8 (anytime the Giants visit Cowboys Stadium, you're in for an interesting three hours of football) and concludes with New England at Baltimore on Dec. 22. Some good games (on paper, in April) in between: San Francisco at Seattle (Sept. 15), New England at Atlanta (Sept. 29), Houston at San Francisco (Oct. 6), Denver at Indianapolis (Oct. 20) and Denver at New England (Nov. 24).

- What about Monday Night?: ESPN's Monday Night Football schedule begins with an intriguing double-header - Chip Kelly's Eagles at Washington, followed by Houston at San Diego, lead by new head coach Mike McCoy. The schedule ends with a rematch of the NFC Championship, but this time the Falcons visit the 49ers. Other games worth checking out (on paper, in April): Chicago at Green Bay (Nov. 4), San Francisco at Washington (Nov. 25) and New Orleans at Seattle (Dec. 2).

- Coaching debuts: We've already touched on Chip Kelly's first game in Philadelphia and Mike McCoy's debut in San Diego, so here's how the other six new coaches will officially lift the lid with their new clubs (all games Sept. 8): Doug Marrone and Buffalo host New England; Andy Reid and Kansas City at Gus Bradley and Jacksonville; Marc Trestman and Chicago host Cincinnati; Rob Chudzinski and Cleveland host Miami; and Bruce Arians and Arizona visit St. Louis.

- Oh, and one more debut: Sean Payton's return to the Saints' sideline begins with a date against Atlanta at the Superdome on Sept. 8.  

- Clear Your Schedule, Part I: Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos visit Eli Manning and the New York Giants on Sept. 15.

- Clear Your Schedule, Part II: Many people think the NFC West will be the NFL's most competitive division this season. If so, the de facto NFC West championship game could be Seattle at San Francisco on Dec. 8.

- The schedule people will be talking about the most between now and September: That honor goes to the Denver Broncos. We've already touched on a number of these games, but that's what makes it so interesting in the first place. First, they get to relive last year's epic playoff defeat against Baltimore in Week 1. Then Peyton visits Eli at MetLife Stadium in Week 2. In Week 7 he gets to return to Indianapolis. In Week 12 he gets another showdown with Tom Brady, yet again in Foxboro. Sandwiched around that are dates with Philadelphia, Dallas, Washington and Houston. Good luck with all that. 

For any of the 256 games we didn't mention, or to view your team's slate, please click here.





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