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[04/06/06 - 12:00 AM]
Super Bowl Champ, NFL Powerhouses, Storied Rivalries & Sibling Rivalry Highlight NBC's Return to NFL in 2006

[via press release from NBC]

SUPER BOWL CHAMP, NFL POWERHOUSES, STORIED RIVALRIES & SIBLING RIVALRY HIGHLIGHT NBC's RETURN TO NFL IN 2006

NBC's "Sunday Night NFL Football" Schedule Announced

NEW YORK -- April 6, 2006 -- The defending Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers, marquee teams, storied rivalries and sibling rivalries highlight NBC's return to the National Football League as the NFL today announced its 2006 slate of games. Highlights of NBC's "Sunday Night NFL Football" schedule include a battle between the NFL's premier quarterbacks, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, as the Indianapolis Colts visit the New England Patriots in a potential AFC Championship preview; the Patriots seeking revenge against the Denver Broncos, the team that ended their all-time record 10-game postseason winning streak; a potential NFC Championship preview between the defending NFC champion Seattle Seahawks and the Chicago Bears; the renewal of one of the greatest rivalries in NFL history, the Washington Redskins vs. Dallas Cowboys; and Terrell Owens and the Cowboys meeting his former team, the Philadelphia Eagles, in a Christmas Day clash.

NBC's 2006 NFL Schedule: Thursday, Sept 7 -- Miami at Pittsburgh Sunday, Sept. 10 -- Indianapolis at NY Giants Sunday, Sept. 17 -- Washington at Dallas Sunday, Sept. 24 -- Denver at New England Sunday, Oct. 1 -- Seattle at Chicago Sunday, Oct. 8 -- Pittsburgh at San Diego Sunday, Oct. 15 -- Oakland at Denver Sunday, Oct. 29 -- Dallas at Carolina Sunday, Nov. 5 -- Indianapolis at New England Flexible Scheduling Weeks 10-15 Monday, Dec. 25 (Christmas) -- Philadelphia at Dallas Flexible Scheduling Week 17

A complete schedule breakdown including analysis from NBC's John Madden below.

As previously announced, NBC's 2006 NFL schedule kicks off on Thursday, Sept. 7, with the Steelers hosting Daunte Culpepper and the Miami Dolphins, marked by "Football Night in America" analyst Jerome Bettis' return to Pittsburgh. NBC's inaugural Sunday "Football Night in America" game on Sept. 10 features the long-anticipated first meeting of sibling quarterbacks as Eli Manning and the New York Giants host Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts.

"We're very excited to be back with the NFL," said Dick Ebersol, Chairman, NBC Universal Sports & Olympics. "We can't wait to get started with the best NFL broadcast team ever assembled."

NBC's "Football Night in America" team of Al Michaels (play-by-play), John Madden (game analyst), Bob Costas (studio host), Cris Collinsworth (studio co-host) and Jerome Bettis (studio analyst) is the most honored group of NFL broadcasters ever.

THURSDAY, SEPT. 7 - NFL KICKOFF 2006

Miami Dolphins at Pittsburgh Steelers (Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, Pa.)

In NBC's first NFL game in eight years, the Super Bowl Champion Steelers host new Dolphins QB Daunte Culpepper, looking for a fresh start in Miami after a tumultuous end to his Vikings career. The Dolphins closed last season with a six-game winning streak under new head coach Nick Saban.

Madden: "It's always a great scene seeing the defending Super Bowl champs open the season in front of their home fans. It will be a big night for Steelers fans everywhere to see them play for the first time as Super Bowl champions. Under Nick Saban, the Dolphins proved they're on the right track last year and they're going to get a great early test from the Steelers."

SUNDAY, SEPT. 10 - WEEK ONE

Indianapolis Colts at New York Giants (Giants Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.)

The Manning Family Feud: In a long-anticipated NFL first, brothers will square off as rival quarterbacks when Eli Manning and Big Blue host big brother Peyton and the Colts. Eli led the Giants to a playoff berth in just his second season; Peyton seeks redemption from a disappointing playoff loss to the Steelers.

Madden: "Everybody will be talking about the Manning brothers, but there are still other stories I'm thinking about: Will Tiki Barber run as well as he did last year? How will Jeremy Shockey play? Will the Giants defense play like last year? How will Peyton and the Colts' offense adjust without Edgerrin James?"

SUNDAY, SEPT. 17 - WEEK TWO

Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys (Texas Stadium, Irving, Texas)

Outspoken WR Terrell Owens seeks to write a new chapter in the NFL's most storied rivalry that extends from Tom Landry and George Allen to Bill Parcells and Joe Gibbs.

Madden: "It's the Redskins vs. the Cowboys, it doesn't get much better than that ? it just sounds like a football game."

SUNDAY, SEPT. 24 - WEEK THREE

Denver Broncos at New England Patriots (Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Mass.)

The Pats look to avenge their playoff loss to the Broncos last season, after Denver spoiled New England's NFL all-time record 10-game playoff winning streak, which included three Super Bowl titles.

SUNDAY, OCT. 1 - WEEK FOUR

Seattle Seahawks at Chicago Bears (Soldier Field, Chicago, Ill.)

In a potential NFC Championship Game preview, the defending NFC champion Seahawks visit the resurgent Bears at Soldier Field. The unstoppable force meets the immovable object as NFL MVP Shaun Alexander faces Bears LB Brian Urlacher, the 2005 AP defensive player of the year.

Madden: "We always want to know the answer to the question: Who's the dominant team in the NFC? This game is an early chance to get the answer."

SUNDAY OCT. 8 - WEEK FIVE

Pittsburgh Steelers at San Diego Chargers (Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, Calif.)

The NFL's most dynamic RB, LaDainian Tomlinson, and the Chargers host the Super Bowl Champions. Philip Rivers takes over the reins as the Chargers starting quarterback, facing Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger. Rivers was the fourth overall pick in the 2004 NFL draft, seven slots ahead of Roethlisberger, who captured a Super Bowl title in just his second season. In last year's nationally televised primetime meeting between the teams, the Steelers won 24-22 on a last second field goal.

SUNDAY, OCT. 15 - WEEK SIX

Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos (INVESCO Field at Mile High, Denver, Colo.)

One of the AFC's most bitter rivalries heats up with WR Randy Moss and the Raiders visiting QB Jake Plummer and the AFC West champion Broncos.

Madden: "This is one of the great AFC rivalries and the Bronco fans always go wild when the Raiders come into town."

SUNDAY, OCT. 22

NO GAME (Note: World Series Game 2)

SUNDAY, OCT. 29 - WEEK EIGHT

Dallas Cowboys at Carolina Panthers (Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, N.C.)

Panthers WR Keyshawn Johnson, released by the Cowboys in favor of WR Terrell Owens, seeks revenge against his former team.

Madden: "Who would have thought a month ago that T.O. would face Keyshawn in this game? Not only do you have the great receivers, but these are also two very well-coached teams, which should make for a great game."

SUNDAY, NOV. 5 - WEEK NINE

Indianapolis Colts at New England Patriots (Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Mass.)

Two AFC powerhouses, featuring the league's top quarterbacks in Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, clash in a potential AFC Championship preview, as the Patriots look to rebound from their nationally televised primetime loss to the Colts last season.

Madden: "It sounds like a Division game because they play each other every year, and it seems like each game has just been incredible. And if you like watching top quarterbacks play, you'll love this game."

MONDAY, DEC. 25 - WEEK 16 (CHRISTMAS DAY)

Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys

Terrell Owens hosts his former teammates, spicing up an already intense rivalry, in a special Christmas Day game... a gift for football fans. Eagles QB Donovan McNabb, a frequent target of Owens, seeks to spoil T.O's Christmas.

Madden: "There are a lot of great NFC rivalries, and if you're looking for a rivalry game, this one is it."

FLEXIBLE SCHEDULING

As the NFL announced yesterday, this season the league will implement for the first time in history primetime "flexible scheduling" for NBC's primetime Sunday night games in Weeks 10-15 and in Week 17. Flexible scheduling will ensure quality matchups on Sunday night and give surprise teams a chance to play their way onto NBC's primetime schedule. Only Sunday afternoon games are eligible to be moved and will use a 12-day notice format. Flexible scheduling will not involve games airing on Thursday, Saturday or Monday. The 2006 NFL schedule will list start times for all Sunday games during the "flex" weeks as 1 p.m. ET, except for games played in the Mountain or Pacific Time zones, which will be listed at 4:05 p.m. ET or 4:15 p.m. ET. The NBC Sunday nighttime slot for "flex" weeks will list teams as "TBD." As a result of a special NFL owners vote earlier this year, three teams may appear on NBC Sunday night games as many as four times each year which surpasses the previous maximum of three appearances. The remaining 29 teams allowed a maximum of three appearances on NBC.

NBC'S "FOOTBALL NIGHT IN AMERICA"

NBC's "Football Night in America" will encompass more than four hours of NFL coverage, including the primetime studio show hosted by Bob Costas, the most honored sportscaster of his generation; co-hosted by Cris Collinsworth, the most honored studio analyst in history; and Super Bowl champion Jerome Bettis, one of the most popular player in recent NFL history, as analyst; and the premier primetime game of the week, "NBC's Sunday Night NFL Football." Both the game and the studio will be broadcast in high definition.

The agreement continues through the 2011 season and calls for 16 regular season Sunday night games, each season's "NFL Kickoff" Thursday night primetime game, two postseason Wild Card games and three preseason games in primetime, in addition to Super Bowl XLIII in 2009 in Tampa and XLVI in 2012 and Pro Bowls in the same years.





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· FOOTBALL NIGHT IN AMERICA (NBC)
· SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL (NBC)





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