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Highlights of the 2016 NFL schedule include:

  • NFL Kickoff Game: The 2017 season will begin on Thursday, September 8, 2016, with a rematch of the previous Super Bowl. The defending Super Bowl 50 champions, the Denver Broncos, will host the Carolina Panthers at 8:30 p.m. ET on NBC. This is the first time since the Kickoff game was established that it will be a rematch of the previous Super Bowl and the first such meeting of both Super Bowl participants during the first week of the next season since 1970 when both the Minnesota Vikings and Kansas City Chiefs held a rematch of Super Bowl IV to kick off the new post-merger era of the National Football League. The Broncos will debut their brand new starting quarterback; Peyton Manning, their starting quarterback for the 2012 through 2015 seasons, retired following Super Bowl 50, and backup Brock Osweiler left as a free agent for the Houston Texans.
  • International Series: Four games will be played internationally this season. Three of the games will be played in London, England and the fourth will be played in Mexico City, Mexico. The Jacksonville Jaguars will play host to the Indianapolis Colts on October 2 at Wembley Stadium, marking the fourth of at least eight consecutive years in which the Jaguars will host a game in London. On October 23, in the first-ever NFL game at Twickenham Stadium also in London, the Los Angeles Rams will host the New York Giants. The Cincinnati Bengals will host the Washington Redskins on October 30 at Wembley Stadium in London. Finally, on Monday, November 21, the Oakland Raiders will host the Houston Texans at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City, in the first-ever Monday night game to be played outside of the United States and the second regular-season contest to be held in Mexico (the first being the 2005 FĂștbol Americano contest).
  • Thanksgiving Day games: As usual, three games will be played on Thursday, November 24, 2016. The Detroit Lions will host the Minnesota Vikings, the Dallas Cowboys will host the Washington Redskins, and the evening game, the first to feature teams from the AFC since 2013, will feature the Indianapolis Colts hosting the Pittsburgh Steelers.
  • Christmas Day games: Christmas Day, December 25, falls on a Sunday in 2016. When this occurs (most recently in 2011), the Sunday afternoon games are generally moved to Saturday, Christmas Eve. This year, two games will be shown nationally on Christmas day (Ravens at Steelers at 4:30 pm EST on the NFL Network and Broncos at Chiefs at 8:30 pm EST on NBC). These games will be in television conflict with the NBA, which plays several nationally televised games annually on Christmas.
  • New Year's Day Games: The NFL will play a full slate of 16 games on Sunday, January 1, 2017, to conclude the regular season. The College Football Playoff will play its semifinals on Saturday, December 31, 2016, while the other college bowl games traditionally move to Monday, January 2 when New Year's Day occurs on a Sunday. In contrast, the National Hockey League, which traditionally holds its showcase Winter Classic on New Year's Day afternoon but moved that contest to Monday in 2012, will not cede the afternoon to the NFL in 2017; that league has scheduled the Centennial Classic opposite the NFL's regional games for January 1, in addition to the 2017 Winter Classic on January 2. Both host teams for the NHL outdoor games are in markets that do not have an NFL team: Toronto and St. Louis respectively.

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