The NFL usually doesn’t mess with Friday or Christmas. The NFL avoids scheduling games on both.
Since Christmas is landing on a Friday this year, the NFL apparently didn’t mind.
Among the quirks of the NFL regular-season schedule, which was released on Thursday, was the rare Christmas game for the league. And on a Friday, which doesn’t happen often.
A rare Friday game, a rare Christmas game
The Minnesota Vikings will travel to play at the New Orleans Saints in Week 16, on Friday, Dec. 25. That’s unusual.
According to Pro Football Reference, there have been only 10 NFL games played on a Friday since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger. In 2009, the Tennessee Titans and San Diego Chargers played on a Christmas Friday game. The Saints hosted a Friday game on Dec. 24 against the Dallas Cowboys in 1999.
The NFL avoids playing on Fridays because it does not want to interfere with high school games. But there aren’t any on Christmas. The Vikings-Saints game is scheduled to kick off at 4:30 p.m. ET on Fox and NFL Network.
Christmas games are a little more frequent for the NFL, but still rare. The league will move a bulk of its games to another day when Christmas lands on a Sunday. As a result, there have been only 21 NFL games on Christmas since the 1970 merger.
If sports are running as usual by then, we could have a full day of NBA games with an NFL playoff rematch in the middle. Not bad.
‘MNF’ back on ABC
There will be some old and some new with the Week 2 Monday night game.
The matchup is the New Orleans Saints at the Las Vegas Raiders, and it will be the first regular-season game in Las Vegas.
On top of that, the NFL is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the first “Monday Night Football” game by simulcasting ESPN’s broadcast on ABC, which was the home of “Monday Night Football” from 1970-2005. Here’s hoping we get the old “MNF” graphics and introduction, too.
ABC has not broadcast a NFL regular-season game since its final Monday night game in 2005.
Jets, Dolphins get NFL’s first back-to-back matchups since 1991
We have seen, on rare occasion, teams play in the regular-season finale and then play again in the playoff opener. But it’s really unusual to see teams scheduled for consecutive regular-season games against each other.
The Miami Dolphins and New York Jets will play in Week 10, each get a bye, and then play against each other again in Week 12. According to NFL Research, teams haven’t played the same opponent in consecutive games since the San Diego Chargers and Seattle Seahawks in 1991.
Two straight games in the same road stadium
The San Francisco 49ers will play consecutive games in the same stadium, which wouldn’t be unusual if it was Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara. But it’s going to happen all the way across the country.
In Week 2. the 49ers play at the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium, then in Week 3 they get the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium. Presumably. San Francisco will just stay on the East Coast between games. They might not need to take their equipment out of the visitor’s locker room.
The New England Patriots face the same weird situation this season. They play at the Los Angeles Chargers on Dec. 6 at new SoFi Stadium. Then, the Patriots play four days later in a Thursday night game at SoFi Stadium against the Los Angeles Rams.
NFL vs. presidential debates
The NFL has moved games for political reasons before. It moved the traditional Thursday night opener to Wednesday in 2012 to avoid a conflict with the Democratic National Convention. Apparently, presidential debates don’t get the same consideration.
Politico reported that the NFL will have two games in October the same nights as scheduled presidential debates.
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