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Five games featured on opening weekend, three games on Thanksgiving

(March 27, 2006) -- The NFL announced its 2006 Kickoff Weekend nationally televised schedule -- including a Monday night doubleheader -- and its Thanksgiving Day national TV tripleheader.

In a tradition instituted in 2004, the Super Bowl champion annually hosts the NFL Thursday night season kickoff the following year. This Sept. 7 at 8:30 p.m. ET, the Super Bowl XL champion Pittsburgh Steelers will oppose the Miami Dolphins as NBC rejoins the NFL's TV family for the first time since 1997. The game will feature a quarterback matchup of Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger and the Dolphins' Daunte Culpepper, acquired recently from Minnesota in a trade.

On Sunday, Sept. 10, the FOX national doubleheader game at 4:15 p.m. ET will feature the Dallas Cowboys at the Jacksonville Jaguars, who finished 12-4 and earned a playoff spot last season

The Sunday night primetime game (8:15 p.m. ET) on NBC can be called the "Manning Bowl" and it will be a history-maker. The AFC South champion Indianapolis Colts will visit the NFC East titlist New York Giants. It will be a matchup of quarterback brothers -- the Colts' 30-year-old Peyton Manning against his sibling, 25-year-old Eli Manning of the Giants. It will be the first time in NFL history that brothers will start at quarterback against each other.

Monday night, Sept. 11, will feature the first regularly scheduled Monday Night Football game on ESPN, and the first regularly scheduled Monday Night Football doubleheader. The first game (7 p.m. ET) will pit the Minnesota Vikings, under new head coach Brad Childress, at the Washington Redskins, an '05 Divisional Playoff team. The Monday night "nightcap" (10:15 p.m. ET) will be an AFC West meeting of the San Diego Chargers, directed by new starting quarterback Philip Rivers, at the Oakland Raiders, also led by a new coach, Pro Football Hall of Famer Art Shell.

On Sunday, Sept. 10, CBS, which has U.S. Open tennis in the late afternoon slot, will carry a lineup of early regional NFL games. CBS will televise the NFL national doubleheader late game in Week 2.

The NFL will kick off its new late-season primetime television package on NFL Network on Thanksgiving night, giving NFL fans three games on Thanksgiving Day for the first time.

The early game that day (CBS, 12:30 p.m. ET) will feature the Dolphins at the Detroit Lions, under new head coach Rod Marinelli. The second game (FOX, 4:15 p.m. ET) will send the NFC South champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers to Dallas to face the Cowboys.

The Thanksgiving package concludes at 8 p.m. ET on NFL Network when the top two teams in the AFC West last year meet. The Denver Broncos (13-3) will visit the Kansas City Chiefs (10-6).

The announcement of these national TV games was made March 27 by NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue at the NFL Annual Meeting in Orlando, Fla.

The rest of the 2006 regular-season schedule will be finalized and announced in April.

Kickoff Weekend and Thanksgiving national television games:
Kickoff Weekend
Date Day Opponents Network Time (ET)
Sept. 7 Thu. Miami at Pittsburgh NBC 8:30 p.m.
Sept. 10 Sun. Dallas at Jacksonville FOX 4:15 p.m.
Sept. 10 Sun. Indianapolis at N.Y. Giants NBC 8:15 p.m.
Sept. 11 Mon. Minnesota at Washington ESPN 7 p.m.
Sept. 11 Mon. San Diego at Oakland ESPN 10:15 p.m.
Thanksgiving
Date Day Opponents Network Time (ET)
Nov. 23 Thu. Miami at Detroit CBS 12:30 p.m.
Nov. 23 Thu. Tampa Bay at Dallas FOX 4:15 p.m.
Nov. 23 Thu. Denver at Kansas City NFL Network 8 p.m.

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