ESPN Opens NFL Season With 'MNF' Twinbill


NBC will start with the Eli Manning and the Super Bowl champion New York Giants and then his brother Peyton in the first game in the Indianapolis Colts's new home. ESPN begins matters with a doubleheader of intra-division match-ups, notably with the opening of the Aaron Rodgers era at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisc.

National Football League commissioner Roger Goodell announced the league’s "Kickoff Weekend" from the pro football circuit’s annual meeting in Palm Beach,

As has become tradition since 2004, the NFL will open the 2008 season with a Thursday night home game for the Super Bowl titlist. This year, the Giant will begin defense of their Super Bowl XLII crown against division rival the Washington Redskins. In deference to the Republican National Convention that night, NBC will begin coverage of the game at 7 p.m. (ET), about 90 minutes before Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) is expected to officially make his acceptance as the GOP presidential candidate. NBC News will pick up the convention action upon the conclusion of G-men-‘Skins.

NBC's inaugural Sunday night game on Sept. 7 is a rematch of Super Bowl XLI, pitting the Chicago Bears and the other Manning brother with a Super Bowl MVP and his Colts taking from their new girdiron digs, Lucas Oil Stadium. The game begins at 8:15 p.m.

For its part, ESPN again kicks off its Monday Night Football game coverage with a twinbill. As mentioned, Rodgers, who succeeds the legendary Brett Favre as the leader of the Pack, goes against NFC Central rival Minnesota Vikings and rookie of the year Adrian Peterson at 7 p.m. on Sept. 8. The nightcap at 10:15 p.m. is an AFC West confrontation as the Denver Broncos visit the Oakland Raiders.

Last season, MNF opened with an 8.6 average rating, 8.29 million households and 11.1 million viewers as the Cincinnati Bengals topped the Baltimore Ravens 27-20 on Sept. 10. The second game, a 20-17 triumph by the San Francisco 49ers over the Arizona Cardinals, tackled a 6.9 rating, 6.63 million households and 8.5 million viewers.

The rest of the NFL schedule -- which starts very early this year with Labor Day falling Sept. 1 -- is expected to be announced in April.