Press release from NBC Sports, April 21, 2015:
America’s No. 1 primetime television show gets “Back to Football” as NBC broadcasts 19 NFL games during the 2015 regular season, featuring: Tom Brady and the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots hosting Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers in NFL Kickoff 2015 on Thursday, September 10 followed by the Sunday Night Football opener on September 13 with Eli Manning and the New York Giants visiting Tony Romo and the defending NFC East champion Dallas Cowboys; the first Thanksgiving game in Green Bay in 92 years as the defending NFC North champion Packers host the rival Chicago Bears in primetime; and Brady-Manning XVII – the 17th matchup between quarterbacks Tom Brady and Peyton Manning – when the New England Patriots visit the Denver Broncos on Nov. 29.
In addition to kicking off the 2015 NFL season, NBC will also broadcast a Divisional Playoff game on the weekend of January 16-17, and a Wild Card Playoff game on the January 9-10 weekend.
Highlights of the 2015 Sunday Night Football schedule:
• 19 primetime games, including the NFL’s opening game of the season, NFL Kickoff 2015 and NBC’s annual Thanksgiving night game;
• Every 2014 playoff team makes an appearance on Sunday Night Football; 16 of NBC’s 18 scheduled games (Week 17 game TBD) involve at least one playoff team from last season; 11 of 18 include two playoff teams – including rematches of both conference championship games (Seahawks-Packers on Sept. 20 and Patriots-Colts on Oct. 18);
• Three games each for the Patriots, Seahawks, Packers, Broncos, Cowboys, and Steelers;
• The Packers host the Bears on NBC’s annual Thanksgiving night game. It is only the second Thanksgiving game to be played in Green Bay. The first – a Packers’ 19-0 win over the Hammond Pros on Nov. 29, 1923 – was highlighted by a touchdown reception and pass from Curly Lambeau, the namesake of Lambeau Field. NBC will broadcast a Thanksgiving night game each season through 2022;
• Brady-Manning XVII as the New England Patriots visit the Denver Broncos on Nov. 29;
• Three high-profile matchups continue on NBC — Giants-Cowboys (Sept. 13) on NBC for the sixth time in five seasons; and Eagles-Cowboys (Nov. 8) and Steelers-Ravens (Dec. 27) both on NBC for the seventh consecutive season – tying for the longest streak of matchups on the broadcast primetime package in NFL history (ABC 1970-2005; NBC 2006-present);
• Memorable meetings in consecutive weeks in November, the first between quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay) and Peyton Manning (Denver) since 2008 (Nov. 1) and Philadelphia Eagles running back DeMarco Murray, the 2014 NFL rushing leader, returns to Dallas to face his former Cowboys teammates (Nov. 8).
NBC TO BROADCAST 19 NFL GAMES IN 2015: As part of the agreement NBC signed with the NFL in December 2011, NBC, for the fourth straight season, will broadcast 19 regular-season games, including 17 regular-season Sunday Night Football games, NFL Kickoff 2015, and the annual Thanksgiving night game. NBC’s original Sunday Night Football agreement, which began in 2006, included 17 regular-season games. It was increased to 18 games in 2010.
SNF IS NO. 1 PRIMETIME PROGRAM ON TELEVISION: NBC’s Sunday Night Football averaged 21.3 million viewers in 2014, putting it on pace to rank as the No. 1 show for the entire primetime television season (September-May, based on Nielsen live plus same day data) for the fourth consecutive year. Sunday Night Football also is on pace to rank No. 1 among Adults 18-49 for the fifth consecutive full TV season (September-May, based on Nielsen live plus same day data).
2015 NBC SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL SCHEDULE
Thurs. Sept. 10 — NFL Kickoff — Pittsburgh Steelers at New England Patriots
Sun. Sept. 13 — Week 1 — New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys
Sun. Sept. 20 — Week 2 — Seattle Seahawks at Green Bay Packers
Sun. Sept. 27 — Week 3 — Denver Broncos at Detroit Lions
Sun. Oct. 4 — Week 4 — Dallas Cowboys at New Orleans Saints
*Sun. Oct. 11 — Week 5 — San Francisco 49ers at New York Giants
*Sun. Oct. 18 — Week 6 — New England Patriots at Indianapolis Colts
*Sun. Oct. 25 — Week 7 — Philadelphia Eagles at Carolina Panthers
*Sun. Nov. 1 — Week 8 — Green Bay Packers at Denver Broncos
*Sun. Nov. 8 — Week 9 — Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys
*Sun. Nov. 15 — Week 10 — Arizona Cardinals at Seattle Seahawks
*Sun. Nov. 22 — Week 11 — Kansas City Chiefs at San Diego Chargers
**Thurs. Nov. 26 — Week 12 — Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers
*Sun. Nov. 29 — Week 12 — New England Patriots at Denver Broncos
*Sun. Dec. 6 — Week 13 — Indianapolis Colts at Pittsburgh Steelers
*Sun. Dec. 13 — Week 14 — Seattle Seahawks at Baltimore Ravens
*Sun. Dec. 20 — Week 15 — Cincinnati Bengals at San Francisco 49ers
*Sun. Dec. 27 — Week 16 — Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens
*Sun. Jan. 3 — Week 17 — TBD
** Thanksgiving Night Game
Following is a month-by-month look at the 2015 Sunday Night Football schedule:
Tom Brady and the New England Patriots raise the Super Bowl champions banner for the fourth time in 14 seasons prior to hosting Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers in NFL Kickoff 2015 on Thursday, September 10. It is the first of six matchups on the NBC schedule pitting Super Bowl winning QBs. Two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning and the New York Giants close out NFL Kickoff Sunday on September 13 visiting Tony Romo and the defending NFC East winner Dallas Cowboys. On September 20, Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks visit Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers in a rematch of the NFC Championship Game. SNF wraps up its opening month with the first-ever NBC Sunday night game in Detroit, as Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson and the Lions host Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos on September 27.
Quarterbacks Tony Romo and Drew Brees meet for the third consecutive season on Sunday Night Football as the Cowboys visit the New Orleans Saints on October 4. In Week 6 (Oct. 18), it’s a rematch of the AFC Championship Game as Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts visit Brady and the Patriots. On October 25, the Philadelphia Eagles make their ’15 SNF debut in Carolina against the Panthers and QB Cam Newton.
SNF kicks off the month with a quarterback matchup between Green Bay’s Rodgers and Denver’s Manning – who have won a combined 7 Associated Press NFL MVP awards – as the Packers visit the Broncos on Nov. 1. It is only the second Rodgers-Manning meeting (Packers beat Colts 34-14 on Oct. 19, 2008). A week later on Nov. 8, Philadelphia Eagles running back DeMarco Murray makes his return to Dallas, where he won the 2014 rushing title as a member of the Cowboys. Arizona, one of only two teams to win in Seattle in the last three seasons, visit the two-time defending NFC champion Seahawks on Nov. 15. Thanksgiving weekend features a pair of huge rivalries as the Green Bay Packers host the Chicago Bears on Thanksgiving night (Nov. 26) followed three nights later (Sunday, Nov. 29) by Brady-Manning XVII as the star quarterbacks meet for the 17th time in their storied careers when the Patriots visit the Broncos.
Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers open the month on Sunday Night Football hosting Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts on Dec. 6. Roethlisberger passed for 522 and six touchdowns in the Steelers’ 51-34 win against the Colts last season. Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks Russell Wilson and Joe Flacco meet for the first time as the Seattle Seahawks visit the Baltimore Ravens on Dec. 13. SNF’s Dec. 20 matchup features a rematch of two classic Super Bowls (XVI and XXIII) as the Cincinnati Bengals visit the San Francisco 49ers at Levi’s Stadium, the site of the NFL’s 50th Super Bowl in February. Week 16 brings the tough AFC North matchup as the Pittsburgh Steelers visit the Baltimore Ravens. Last year, on Sunday Night Football, Roethlisberger threw six touchdown passes to defeat the Ravens in November. Baltimore returned to Pittsburgh on NBC’s Wild Card Playoff in January and came away with a 30-17 win. The schedule does not list a Sunday night game in Week 17, but an afternoon game with playoff implications will be moved to that time slot.
FLEXIBLE SCHEDULING: Flexible scheduling will be used in Weeks 11-17. Additionally, in Weeks 5-10, flexible scheduling may be used in no more than two weeks. In Weeks 5-16, the schedule lists the games tentatively set for Sunday Night Football on NBC. Only Sunday afternoon games are eligible to be moved to Sunday night, in which case the tentatively scheduled Sunday night game would be moved to an afternoon start time. Flexible scheduling will not be applied to games airing on Thursday, Saturday or Monday nights.
A flexible scheduling move would be announced at least 12 days before the game. For Week 17, the Sunday night game will be announced no later than six days prior to January 3. The schedule does not list a Sunday night game in Week 17, but an afternoon game with playoff implications will be moved to that time slot. Flexible scheduling ensures quality matchups in all Sunday time slots in those weeks and gives “surprise” teams a chance to play their way into prime time.