As far as regular seasons, few things in sports can match NFL night games.
The lights are on, the eyes of the football-watching nation are all tuned in to the same game and two of the top teams in the league typically take the field. Fans can plan accordingly because this year's NFL schedule was released Thursday, and it features plenty of head-turning prime-time contests.
Here is a look at the full schedule of night games, per NFL.com, as well as a couple of intriguing showdowns that stand out.
2017 NFL Prime-Time Schedule
|Week 1||Matchup||Time (ET)||TV|
|Thursday, Sept. 7||Kansas City Chiefs at New England Patriots||8:30 p.m.||NBC|
|Sunday, Sept 10||New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys||8:30 p.m.||NBC|
|Monday, Sept. 11||New Orleans Saints at Minnesota Vikings||7:10 p.m.||ESPN|
|Monday, Sept. 11||Los Angeles Chargers at Denver Broncos||10:20 p.m.||ESPN|
|Week 2||Matchup||Time (ET)||TV|
|Thursday, Sept. 14||Houston Texans at Cincinnati Bengals||8:25 p.m.||NFL Network|
|Sunday, Sept. 17||Green Bay Packers at Atlanta Falcons||8:30 p.m.||NBC|
|Monday, Sept. 18||Detroit Lions at New York Giants||8:30 p.m.||ESPN|
|Week 3||Matchup||Time (ET)||TV|
|Thursday, Sept. 21||Los Angeles Rams at San Francisco 49ers||8:25 p.m.||NFL Network|
|Sunday, Sept. 24||Oakland Raiders at Washington||8:30 p.m.||NBC|
|Monday, Sept. 25||Dallas Cowboys at Arizona Cardinals||8:30 p.m.||ESPN|
|Week 4||Matchup||Time (ET)||TV|
|Thursday, Sept. 28||Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers||8:25 p.m.||CBS/NFL Network|
|Sunday, Oct. 1||Indianapolis Colts at Seattle Seahawks||8:30 p.m.||NBC|
|Monday, Oct. 2||Washington at Kansas City Chiefs||8:30 p.m.||ESPN|
|Week 5||Matchup||Time (ET)||TV|
|Thursday, Oct. 5||New England Patriots at Tampa Bay Buccaneers||8:25 p.m.||CBS/NFL Network|
|Sunday, Oct. 8||Kansas City Chiefs at Houston Texans||8:30 p.m.||NBC|
|Monday, Oct. 9||Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears||8:30 p.m.||ESPN|
|Week 6||Matchup||Time (ET)||TV|
|Thursday, Oct. 12||Philadelphia Eagles at Carolina Panthers||8:25 p.m.||CBS/NFL Network|
|Sunday, Oct. 15||New York Giants at Denver Broncos||8:30 p.m.||NBC|
|Monday, Oct. 16||Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans||8:30 p.m.||ESPN|
|Week 7||Matchup||Time (ET)||TV|
|Thursday, Oct. 19||Kansas City Chiefs at Oakland Raiders||8:25 p.m.||CBS/NFL Network|
|Sunday, Oct. 22||Atlanta Falcons at New England Patriots||8:30 p.m.||NBC|
|Monday, Oct. 23||Washington at Philadelphia Eagles||8:30 p.m.||ESPN|
|Week 8||Matchup||Time (ET)||TV|
|Thursday, Oct. 26||Miami Dolphins at Baltimore Ravens||8:25 p.m.||CBS/NFL Network|
|Sunday, Oct. 29||Pittsburgh Steelers at Detroit Lions||8:30 p.m.||NBC|
|Monday, Oct. 30||Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs||8:30 p.m.||ESPN|
|Week 9||Matchup||Time (ET)||TV|
|Thursday, Nov. 2||Buffalo Bills at New York Jets||8:25 p.m.||NFL Network|
|Sunday, Nov. 5||Oakland Raiders at Miami Dolphins||8:30 p.m.||NBC|
|Monday, Nov. 6||Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers||8:30 p.m.||ESPN|
|Week 10||Matchup||Time (ET)||TV|
|Thursday, Nov. 9||Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals||8:25 p.m.||NBC/NFL Network|
|Sunday, Nov. 12||New England Patriots at Denver Broncos||8:30 p.m.||NBC|
|Monday, Nov. 13||Miami Dolphins at Carolina Panthers||8:30 p.m.||ESPN|
|Week 11||Matchup||Time (ET)||TV|
|Thursday, Nov. 16||Tennessee Titans at Pittsburgh Steelers||8:25 p.m.||NBC/NFL Network|
|Sunday, Nov. 19||Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys||8:30 p.m.||NBC|
|Monday, Nov. 20||Atlanta Falcons at Seattle Seahawks||8:30 p.m.||ESPN|
|Week 12||Matchup||Time (ET)||TV|
|Thursday, Nov. 23||New York Giants at Washington||8:30 p.m.||NBC|
|Sunday, Nov. 26||Green Bay Packers at Pittsburgh Steelers||8:30 p.m.||NBC|
|Monday, Nov. 27||Houston Texans at Baltimore Ravens||8:30 p.m.||ESPN|
|Week 13||Matchup||Time (ET)||TV|
|Thursday, Nov. 30||Washington at Dallas Cowboys||8:25 p.m.||NBC/NFL Network|
|Sunday, Dec. 3||Philadelphia Eagles at Seattle Seahawks||8:30 p.m.||NBC|
|Monday, Dec. 4||Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals||8:30 p.m.||ESPN|
|Week 14||Matchup||Time (ET)||TV|
|Thursday, Dec. 7||New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons||8:25 p.m.||NBC/NFL Network|
|Sunday, Dec. 10||Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers||8:30 p.m.||NBC|
|Monday, Dec. 11||New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins||8:30 p.m.||ESPN|
|Week 15||Matchup||Time (ET)||TV|
|Thursday, Dec. 14||Denver Broncos at Indianapolis Colts||8:25 p.m.||NBC/NFL Network|
|Saturday, Dec. 16||Los Angeles Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs||8:25 p.m.||NFL Network|
|Sunday, Dec. 17||Dallas Cowboys at Oakland Raiders||8:30 p.m.||NBC|
|Monday, Dec. 18||Atlanta Falcons at Tampa Bay Buccaneers||8:30 p.m.||ESPN|
|Week 16||Matchup||Time (ET)||TV|
|Saturday, Dec. 23||Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers||8:30 p.m.||NBC|
|Monday, Dec. 25||Oakland Raiders at Philadelphia Eagles||8:30 p.m.||ESPN|
Intriguing Prime-Time Showdowns
Week 1: Kansas City Chiefs at New England Patriots
The fact that this is the first game for the defending-champion New England Patriots instantly makes this an intriguing contest. There figures to be plenty of pomp and circumstance, as Shalise Manza Young of Yahoo Sports noted:
As the defending Super Bowl champions, the Patriots will have the chance to host the first official game of the 2017 season; like many other things, the league and teams have made these games an event, with concerts, fireworks and the unveiling of championship banners.
We would expect nothing less from New England.
Some may not want to bask in New England's glory, but this is also the first regular-season game for football-starved fans across the country, and it features the Patriots against a Kansas City Chiefs team that made the playoffs in three of the last four seasons.
Kansas City handed New England a 41-14 loss in 2014 the last time these two teams played in the regular season.
There is plenty of direct impact on this campaign as well. The Patriots' division dominance (eight straight AFC East crowns and 13 of the last 14) means they're really competing with the rest of the AFC for home-field advantage and first-round byes.
Kansas City figures to be one of those teams after a 12-4 campaign and AFC West title, especially with wide receivers Tyreek Hill and Jeremy Maclin and tight end Travis Kelce surrounding quarterback Alex Smith. The Chiefs also boasted the league's seventh-best scoring defense in 2016, which figures to challenge quarterback Tom Brady.
The last time the Patriots lost a playoff contest was when they went on the road to face the Denver Broncos in the 2015 season's AFC Championship Game, which came right after they beat the Chiefs in the AFC Divisional Round by just seven points.
Forcing New England to travel during the postseason like it did in the Denver loss could be one of the few formulas to stopping it, and Kansas City hopes to force a similar situation this year.
Winning this head-to-head showdown with the champs would give it an early advantage.
Week 12: New York Giants at Washington
There may be other games with better teams on the prime-time slate, but this one stands out because of its date.
The New York Giants travel to Washington on Thanksgiving night in what promises to be a highly rated broadcast with families and friends gathering around post-turkey to watch some football.
It will also be a historic occasion, as Master Tesfatsion of the Washington Post noted Washington will host a Thanksgiving game for the first time in franchise history.
Washington and the Giants may not be the Patriots or Dallas Cowboys, but this will still likely be a critical game for more than just the Thanksgiving factor. New York made the playoffs last season at 11-5 and figures to challenge the Cowboys in the NFC East with quarterback Eli Manning and wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall.
If Washington, which missed the playoffs at 8-7-1 in 2016 a year after winning the division at 9-7, is going to reclaim its spot atop the NFC East, it will have to get through the Giants as well as the Cowboys.
Football Outsiders' Aaron Schultz (h/t James Kratch of NJ.com) underscored the importance of each NFC East game, writing, "This is the strongest division in the NFL, where last season all four teams finished in the DVOA top 10, but an arduous schedule might leave three of the four teams out of the postseason."
Between the quarterback matchup of Kirk Cousins and Manning, the likely playoff implications in the NFC East and the tradition of Thanksgiving, this is one of the most intriguing prime-time games on the 2017 schedule.