Why are there 2 ‘Monday Night Football’ games in weeks 2 and 3? Explaining the peculiarity of the NFL calendar

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Following a full slate of NFL games on Sunday, Monday nights are typically reserved for one final showdown before teams and fans turn their attention to the next week on the calendar. But Week 2 of the 2023 season features an interesting twist: Two games will air simultaneously for an overlapping “Monday Night Football” doubleheader.

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Why are there two games on Monday? How will simulcasts work? Which teams will share the spotlight? We’ve got answers to all your “MNF” questions as we look at changes that could become the norm in future seasons.

Why are there two ‘Monday Night Football’ games on September 18?

In March 2021, the NFL finalized an 11-year media rights deal with its previously existing streaming partners, in addition to Amazon Prime Video, which gave more content to Disney by increasing the number of games on ESPN and ABC from 17 to 23. Starting in 2022, there would be three weeks of “Monday Night Football” with multiple games each season. Structuring the schedule to air two overlapping games on Monday nights in Week 2 could be Disney’s way of testing the waters in deciding how to approach the three “MNF” weeks of multiple games in 2023.

Another possible explanation for the simulcasts is that overlapping the games, rather than scheduling the second game to start at the end of the first, will hypothetically result in the late game ending at a decent time on the East Coast.

Read more: NFL Week 2 Takeaways: Baker Mayfield is cooking, Bijan Robinson off to a good start

Which teams will share the spotlight?

The Carolina Panthers host the New Orleans Saints in the first “MNF” game of Week 2, which begins at 7:15 p.m. ET. The second game of the night between the Cleveland Browns and the Pittsburgh Steelers in Pittsburgh will begin at 8:15 p.m. ET.


A ‘Monday Night Football’ experiment is about to test your viewing habits

How will simulcasts work?

The Panthers-Saints game will air on ESPN, while the Browns-Steelers matchup will air on ABC. When the Cleveland-Pittsburgh game begins, both broadcasts will include a “notable, but smaller and less prominent box score” from the other matchup on screen, according to ESPN. There will also be “a double box view” at times during games, giving fans the opportunity to watch both contests at the same time. ESPN predicts the games “will overlap for about half of football.”

The NFL had overlapping Monday night games in Week 2 last season with the Tennessee Titans facing the Buffalo Bills at 7:15 p.m. ET on ESPN and the Minnesota Vikings facing the Philadelphia Eagles at 8:30 p.m. ET on ABC. It also happened in Week 4 of the 2020 season, when a game between the New England Patriots and the Kansas City Chiefs was postponed from Sunday due to COVID-19. That week, the Pats and Chiefs began their game at 7:05 pm ET on CBS, while the Atlanta Falcons and Green Bay Packers began their game at 8:50 pm ET on ESPN.

There was also an “MNF” doubleheader exactly 17 years ago, on September 19, 2005, by ESPN. The Saints were originally scheduled to host the New York Giants the previous Sunday, but the game was rescheduled for the following night and moved to New York due to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The New Orleans-New York game began at 7:30 p.m. ET and was first broadcast on ABC, but was moved to ESPN when the Dallas-Washington matchup that had been scheduled for ABC’s “MNF” time slot began at 9 pm ET.

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(Photo: Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images)


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