FOX network is taking over broadcasting duties for a majority of the NFL's Thursday night slate from CBS and NBC, and it looks to have done pretty well with the schedule. Its first game is Vikings at Rams on Sept. 27, a matchup of two division champions from 2017, and then Fox gets the always watchable Patriots hosting the Colts (finally featuring Andrew Luck again?) the next week. In November, each of the four Fox Thursday night games would seem to look good from a preseason distance of seven months: Raiders-49ers, Panthers-Steelers, Packers-Seahawks and Saints-Cowboys.
Bristol's relationship with the NFL has been a bit prickly in recent years. The network is paying $1.9 billion a year for the “Monday Night Football” package plus a lone playoff game during a time of economic uncertainty, and the slate in recent years has been less than optimal. But this year, at least on paper, the schedule seems pretty good, starting with the late-night Week 1 game featuring former “MNF” color commentator Jon Gruden in his second debut as Raiders coach (against the should-be-good Rams, no less). According to the Athletic's Richard Deitsch, ESPN executive vice president of programming and scheduling Burke Magnus lobbied hard for that one and got his wish.
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