The 43rd season of Monday Night Football will kick off on ESPN with a doubleheader Monday, September 10 –Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens (7 p.m. ET) and San Diego Chargers at Oakland Raiders (10:15 p.m. / 7:15 p.m. PT) – and will continue with a total of 17 prime-time games. Following a season that delivered 14 of the 20 biggest cable household audiences of the year, ESPN’s MNF schedule will feature all 12 playoff teams from 2011, including both the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants and AFC champion New England Patriots.
Andy Dalton and the Bengals, who returned to the AFC playoffs last year, open the season against Ray Lewis and the division rival Ravens in Baltimore in the first game of ESPN’s nationally televised week 1 doubleheader.
The Ravens won the AFC North in 2011 and advanced to last year’s conference championship. In the second game, Philip Rivers and the Chargers play Carson Palmer and the Raiders in Oakland in a matchup of longtime AFC West foes.
Play-by-play commentator Mike Tirico, analyst Jon Gruden and recently named sideline reporter Lisa Salters will call the Bengals-Ravens opener, and the MNF games each week at 8:30 p.m. ESPN Deportes, ESPN’s 24-hour Spanish-language domestic sports network, will continue to offer a Spanish-language production of MNF games during the 2012 NFL season. Additional MNF “game around the game” content will be available throughout the day across ESPN’s multimedia platforms.
September: Peyton Manning Returns to MNF in Week 2
- Sept. 10: Season-opening doubleheader – Bengals at Ravens and Chargers at Raiders in a pair of AFC divisional matchups;
- Sept. 17: Peyton Manning and the new look Denver Broncos travel to Atlanta to play Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons. The AFC West champions extend the NFL’s longest current streak of 21 consecutive seasons playing on MNF (1992-present);
- Sept. 24: NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers and the NFC North champion Green Bay Packers travel west to face former Packers back-up quarterback Matt Flynn and the Seattle Seahawks.
October: Bears-Cowboys NFC Showdown in ‘Big D’
- Oct. 1: NFC contenders collide in Texas as Jay Cutler and the Chicago Bears tackle Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys;
- Oct. 8: Matt Schaub and the AFC South champion Houston Texans try to take a bite out of Mark Sanchez and the New York Jets in the Big Apple;
- Oct. 15: Elite quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers will be on display when the Broncos travel to San Diego to play the Chargers;
- Oct. 22: It’s an old fashioned NFC North grudge match when Calvin Johnson and the Detroit Lions go head-to-head with Cutler and the Bears in the Windy City, a rematch of one of MNF’s most exciting games in 2011;
- Oct. 29: In an NFC West duel in the desert, Larry Fitzgerald and the Arizona Cardinals host Alex Smith and the division champion San Francisco 49ers.
November: Vick and Eagles Look to Take Flight with Two MNF Games
- Nov. 5: On the eve of the U.S. presidential election, MNF will be declared a winner when Drew Brees and the NFC South champion New Orleans Saints host Michael Vick and the Philadelphia Eagles at the home of Super Bowl XLVII;
- Nov. 12: Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers play host to Jamaal Charles and the Kansas City Chiefs. As extra motivation, former Chiefs head coach Todd Haley, now the Steelers offensive coordinator, will face his former team;
- Nov. 19: In the 34th MNF game played at Candlestick Park (most among all NFL stadiums), Frank Gore and the 49ers host Matt Forte and the Bears in a matchup of tradition-rich NFC franchises;
- Nov. 26: Thanksgiving weekend concludes with a feast of electrifying quarterbacks as 2011 NFL Rookie of the Year Cam Newton makes his MNF debut for the Carolina Panthers against Vick and the high-flying Eagles in Philadelphia.
December: Super Bowl Teams in Back-to-Back Weeks; Falcons-Lions Season-Finale in Motown:
- Dec. 3: Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning and the world champion New York Giants face NFC East rival Washington Redskins in the Nation’s Capital. Washington won both games in 2011;
- Dec. 10: In a matchup of AFC playoff teams from last season, Schaub and the Texans battle Tom Brady and the AFC champion New England Patriots in Foxboro;
- Dec. 17: Sanchez and the Jets fly into Nashville to try to ground Chris Johnson and the Tennessee Titans;
- Dec. 22 (Sat.): Last season’s NFC Wild Card teams, Atlanta and Detroit, look to be in the playoff hunt again as Ryan and the Falcons face Matthew Stafford and the Lions in the MNF season finale in Motown. (Note: The game will be played on Saturday in prime time due to the Christmas holiday).
ESPN’s Monday Night Football
ESPN’s Monday Night Football is the most-watched series in cable television history. In six seasons on ESPN, MNF has registered seven of the top 10 all-time biggest household audiences in cable history. For the 2011 season, ESPN’s MNF delivered 14 of the 20 biggest household audiences (and 13 of the top 20 among viewers) for cable television in 2011, averaging a 9.7 rating (8.4 US rating) and 9,589,000 homes (13,252,000 viewers).
ESPN’s 2012 Monday Night Football Schedule
|Preseason|| || |
|Aug. 9||8 p.m.||Green Bay Packers at San Diego Chargers|
|Aug. 13||8 p.m.||Dallas Cowboys at Oakland Raiders|
|Aug. 20||8 p.m.||Philadelphia Eagles at New England Patriots|
|Aug. 23||8 p.m.||Arizona Cardinals at Tennessee Titans|
|Regular Season|| || |
|Sept. 10||7 p.m.||Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens|
| ||10:15 p.m.||San Diego Chargers at Oakland Raiders|
|Sept. 17||8:30 p.m.||Denver Broncos at Atlanta Falcons|
|Sept. 24||8:30 p.m.||Green Bay Packers at Seattle Seahawks|
|Oct. 1||8:30 p.m.||Chicago Bears at Dallas Cowboys|
|Oct. 8||8:30 p.m.||Houston Texans at New York Jets|
|Oct. 15||8:30 p.m.||Denver Broncos at San Diego Chargers |
|Oct. 22||8:30 p.m.||Detroit Lions at Chicago Bears|
|Oct. 29||8:30 p.m.||San Francisco 49ers at Arizona Cardinals|
|Nov. 5||8:30 p.m.||Philadelphia Eagles at New Orleans Saints|
|Nov. 12||8:30 p.m.||Kansas City Chiefs at Pittsburgh Steelers|
|Nov. 19||8:30 p.m.||Chicago Bears at San Francisco 49ers|
|Nov. 26||8:30 p.m.||Carolina Panthers at Philadelphia Eagles|
|Dec. 3||8:30 p.m.||New York Giants at Washington Redskins|
|Dec. 10||8:30 p.m.||Houston Texans at New England Patriots|
|Dec. 17||8:30 p.m.||New York Jets at Tennessee Titans|
|Dec. 22 (Sat.)||8:30 p.m.||Atlanta Falcons vs. Detroit Lions|