Here Are The Five Things You Need To Look For When The NFL Releases Its Schedule Tonight

Peyton Manning Denver Broncos

[credit provider=”Illustration using Andy Lyons/Getty Images”]

The NFL is set to release its 2012 regular season schedule Tuesday at 7 p.m. Eastern.Both NFL Network and ESPN will have live coverage of the full release.

We already know who’s playing who and where. What Tuesday’s event will reveal is when these games will be played, i.e. Monday night, Sunday night, etc.

Like every league, the NFL sets up a schedule that can maximise its TV exposure, so juicy matchups in prime time are a given.

Here are some of the BIG things to look for when the schedule is revealed:

  • How many times will “America’s Team” play in prime time? The Dallas Cowboys were featured in prime time seven times in 2011 even though they eventually missed the playoffs. Despite the off year, don’t expect the Cowboys to be shown on national TV much less in 2012.
  • Who will get more games under lights and in front of national TV audiences, Peyton Manning’s Denver Broncos or Tim Tebow’s New York Jets? Juicy prime time possibilities for the Broncos include games against the New England Patriots, Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, New Orleans Saints, Pittsburgh Steelers, Houston Texans, and their old AFL rivals from within the division. As for the Jets, they play the Patriots twice, San Francisco 49ers, and Pittsburgh Steelers.
  • ESPN keeps getting some AWFUL Monday Night Football matchups. Last year included boring games like Colts/Buccaneers, Jaguars/Chargers, and Rams/Seahawks. With NBC getting fantastic games for Sunday night, and ESPN being relegated to the “B” schedule, this trend should continue.
  • NFL Network’s newly expanded 13-game Thursday night schedule is being used as an opportunity to make sure EVERY team has at least one game in prime time. When it’s an awful team’s turn (Colts, Vikings) will the league stick to scheduling one of it’s tougher opponents to maximise ratings potential? Or would that lead to a ratings mess because the game will likely end in a blowout? This is a tough decision for the NFL in its effort to please every team.
  • How often will the NFL’s up and coming stars/teams play on Monday, Sunday, or Thursday nights? We’re specifically referring to guys like Cam Newton, Andrew Luck, and Robert Griffin III, as well as teams like the Detroit Lions (two prime time games in 2011) and Cincinnati Bengals (zero prime time games in 2011).