Sunday Night Football is as much an American tradition as the sport of football itself. As the NFL’s premier weekly game, the Sunday night contest will invariably feature marquee matchups and hard-hitting affairs no one will want to miss when the 2013 season kicks off in September.
The current incarnation of Sunday Night Football on NBC began in 2006 with a prime-time regular-season showdown between the Miami Dolphins and Pittsburgh Steelers. While the weekly Sunday night game has been a staple of NFL television coverage since its first such broadcast on ESPN in 1987, the current version we see today has taken on its own persona.
Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth will return in 2013 as commentators for the games, but the traditional introduction song will feature a fresh face this season.
Faith Hill announced via Twitter that she won’t be back this year to sing “Waiting All Day for Sunday Night.” Her introduction (which she sang for six years) wasn’t the reason most people tuned in, but it certainly added to the excitement of watching prime-time football on Sundays. NBC has yet to announce her replacement.
Sunday Night Football featured plenty of marquee matchups in 2012, including a contest between the New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens in Week 3 that would prove to be a preview for the AFC Championship Game. Eleven of the 18 Sunday Night Football games (including the Wednesday night season opener) were decided by a touchdown or less, and fans should expect to see more of the same parity this season.
One of the biggest reasons for the parity we saw on Sunday nights in 2012 was the NFL’s flexible-scheduling policy that allows prime-time games from Week 11 and beyond to be interchangeable with other Sunday pairings. As the league’s featured game of the week, it only makes sense to give fans a matchup they don’t want to miss.
The NFL schedule was released on Thursday, and we have the full list of Sunday Night Football games that boasts plenty of intriguing matchups and must-watch affairs. Let’s take a look at the full slate.
|1||Sept. 8||8:30 p.m.||New York Giants||Dallas Cowboys||NBC|
|2||Sept. 15||8:30 p.m.||San Francisco 49ers||Seattle Seahawks||NBC|
|3||Sept. 22||8:30 p.m.||Chicago Bears||Pittsburgh Steelers||NBC|
|4||Sept. 29||8:30 p.m.||New England Patriots||Atlanta Falcons||NBC|
|5||Oct. 6||8:30 p.m.||Houston Texans||San Francisco 49ers||NBC|
|6||Oct. 13||8:30 p.m.||Washington Redskins||Dallas Cowboys||NBC|
|7||Oct. 20||8:30 p.m.||Denver Broncos||Indianapolis Colts||NBC|
|8||Oct. 27||8:30 p.m.||Green Bay Packers||Minnesota Vikings||NBC|
|9||Nov. 3||8:30 p.m.||Indianapolis Colts||Houston Texans||NBC|
|10||Nov. 10||8:30 p.m.||Dallas Cowboys||New Orleans Saints||NBC|
|11||Nov. 17||8:30 p.m.||Green Bay Packers||New York Giants||NBC|
|12||Nov. 24||8:30 p.m.||Denver Broncos||New England Patriots||NBC|
|13||Nov. 28 (Thursday)||8:30 p.m.||Pittsburgh Steelers||Baltimore Ravens||NBC|
|13||Dec. 1||8:30 p.m.||New York Giants||Washington Redskins||NBC|
|14||Dec. 8||8:30 p.m.||Atlanta Falcons||Green Bay Packers||NBC|
|15||Dec. 15||8:30 p.m.||Cincinnati Bengals||Pittsburgh Steelers||NBC|
|16||Dec. 22||8:30 p.m.||New England Patriots||Baltimore Ravens||NBC|
|17||No Sunday Night Game|
*Schedule can also be found at NFL.com.
Potential Game of the Year
Nov. 24: Denver Broncos at New England Patriots
This game has everything a football fan can ask for. You don’t have to support the Broncos or Patriots to enjoy a matchup between two of the AFC’s best teams, led by two of the greatest quarterbacks of all time.
Last year’s showdown between Tom Brady and Peyton Manning wasn’t a thrilling affair, as New England pulled away to a 31-21 victory in Foxborough in a highly anticipated matchup. This year should be different, though.
Manning will be more than a year removed from his return to football, and he has a new toy in his receiver corps—a weapon the Patriots discarded in favor of Danny Amendola this offseason.
Wes Welker’s return to Gillette Stadium only adds to the intrigue of this matchup. Both teams should be as strong as ever this season, and this Week 12 contest could have major playoff implications in the AFC race.
Despite falling short in the playoffs last season, both teams will again be in the hunt for the Lombardi Trophy this year, and this game will be one to watch.