It may not be Christmas, but the NFL's annual schedule release has the feeling of a holiday. Fans of all 32 teams get to see who, where and when their teams will play for the upcoming season. Included in the schedule release is the full layout of the season's "Thursday Night Football" slate that this year includes several must-see matchups.
There are several things worth noting regarding this year's Thursday night schedule. The Steelers, Saints and Jets will make multiple appearances on Thursday night, with Pittsburgh hosting both contests. There are five divisional matchups that includes a playoff rematch between the Bengals and Ravens in Week 11. There is also a "Black Friday" game that is considered part of the Thursday night package. That game will pit the Dolphins against the Jets from the Big Apple.
Now that the schedule is released, here is our ranking of each "Thursday Night Football" game for the upcoming season. Each game will be broadcast by Amazon Prime Video and will kick off at 8:15 p.m. ET.
1. Week 13: Dolphins at Jets
This game has all the trimmings of a classic. For starters, it will be played on "Black Friday," a day after Thanksgiving. It features two teams that have Texas-sized expectations for 2023. The Dolphins are led by Tyreek Hill and the rest of their explosive offense. The Jets have Aaron Rodgers, whose arrival in New York has Jets fans dreaming of a winter with playoff football. Add in the fact that this is a divisional showdown, and this game takes the cake as the best game on the "TNF" slate.
2. Week 11: Bengals at Ravens
Let's cut right to the chase: these teams really don't like each other. Division rivals from the black and blue AFC North, the two teams played in three highly physical games last year. The rubber match, the AFC wild-card round, was indeed a wild affair that was decided by Sam Hubbard's 98-yard kickoff return for a score. This game also features two of the NFL's best passers in Joe Burrow and Lamar Jackson.
The first game on the "TNF" slate is a matchup between two of the NFC's top teams during the 2022 regular season. The Eagles parlayed their 14-3 regular season into an NFC championship. Conversely, the Vikings were upset by the Giants in the wild-card round after winning 13 regular season games.
This game will feature several of the league's brightest stars that includes Jalen Hurts and Justin Jefferson. It will also include more than a few notable members of this year's rookie class, including Eagles defenders Jalen Carter and Nolan Smith and Vikings wideout and fellow first-round pick Jordan Addison.
There was a lot of competition for this spot, but the nod ultimately went to Broncos-Chiefs for multiple reasons. One of them was the simple fact that the Chiefs are the defending champions, so any game including them should be notable. Then there's the fact that the Broncos are starting a new era with former Super Bowl champion Sean Payton. There's a lot of interest regarding Payton and whether or not he can revive Russell Wilson's career.
5. Week 17: Jets at Browns
A game that will almost surely have major playoff implications. Like fans of the Jets, Browns fans are also (cautiously) optimistic that the first full season with Deshaun Watson at quarterback will lead to the franchise's third playoff berth since coming back to the NFL in 1999. Along with Watson, the Browns have one of the NFL's best running backs in Nick Chubb and one of the league's premier pass rushers in Myles Garrett.
Packers fans are still getting over their team's gut-wrenching Week 18 loss to Detroit that abruptly ended the Aaron Rodgers era in Green Bay. The Lions won that game and in the process knocked the Packers out of postseason contention while finishing one game ahead of Green Bay in the division standings. Can the Packers get payback with Jordan Love under center, or will the Lions continue to turn the table in this rivalry? Stay tuned.
7. Giants at 49ers
A little low? Maybe, especially given the fact that both teams made playoff runs last year. But as good as both teams were and are expected to be this year, it's hard to get too excited about a showdown between Daniel Jones and whoever the 49ers are going to start at quarterback. That being said, this should still be a highly-anticipated matchup between old rivals.
OK, bear with me here (pun intended). True, neither of these teams made the playoffs last season. But this game has plenty of intrigue, starting with the fact that both teams were in the middle of the NFL's biggest trade during April's draft. The Panthers gave the Bears a slew of picks in order to acquire the No. 1 overall pick to select Bryce Young. Young is now slated to start against the Bears and their former first-round pick, Justin Fields, who is primed for a breakout year.
The Chargers and Raiders usually put on a good show. Specifically, it's fun to watch the "one-on-one" matchup between Justin Herbert and Maxx Crosby. Herbert, being the intelligent quarterback that he is, always keeps an eye on Crosby and how close the Raiders' pass rusher is to sacking him. It'll be fun to see which Pro Bowler gets the better of the other in front of a national audience.
10. Week 7: Jaguars at Saints
Last year's Cinderella, the Jaguars, will match wits against the Saints and their new quarterback, Derek Carr. Along with seeing Carr in his new digs, fans will get a chance to watch Trevor Lawrence, one of the league's young guns who is looking to move up the proverbial quarterback food chain. It'll also be interesting to see if the Saints "old" stars -- Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas -- will return to form while helping the Saints return to the league's upper echelon.
11. Week 14: Patriots at Steelers
This game would have been much higher a few years ago. But with Ben Roethlisberger and Tom Brady now teeing it up on America's golf courses, this matchup doesn't have the same cache. That said, it is still Patriots-Steelers, which likely means a nip and tuck, back and forth game between two extremely well coached teams. This is a measuring stick game for Kenny Pickett, who would love nothing more than to get a win over a Bill Belichick-coached team.
12. Week 9: Titans at Steelers
If you love smash mouth football, this is the game for you. In one corner are the Titans and former two-time league rushing champion Derrick Henry. In the other corner are the Steelers and back-to-back 1,000-yard rusher Najee Harris. Points may be at a premium in this game, but it won't have any shortage of physicality.
13. Week 16: Saints at Rams
This game would end up being an interesting one of both teams are still in the hunt at this point in the season. For the Rams, that will likely come down to Matthew Stafford's health as well as how well the Rams' young, rebuilt defense holds up. Rest assured that Aaron Donald will be doing whatever he can to keep the Rams relevant, which would in turn make this game worth watching.
14. Week 5: Bears at Commanders
Historic rivals, this game will likely mimic the ones Chicago and Washington staged back in the 1980s when both teams were competing for and winning championships. This will be a good test for Fields against Washington's formidable defense, led by former Ohio State teammate Chase Young. This game also puts the spotlight on an otherwise underrated player in Washington wideout Terry McLaurin.
15. Week 8: Buccaneers at Bills
Had this game been played a year ago, it would have cracked the top five. But with Tom Brady gone and the Buccaneers in semi-rebuilding mode, the only question heading into this game will likely be whether or not the Bills cover the spread. It could be a big game for Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs, so fantasy football players who roster either player will be dialed into this one, too.