NFL fans are going to have to be weaned off football a bit over the next couple of weeks. There was a stretch where there was a pro or college game on every day, but that time is drying up as Week 18 arrives.
Week 18 will mark the first time that neither a “Thursday Night Football” NFL game nor a college football contest will be on the air for viewers. Instead, they’ll have to wait to see any sort of action until Saturday afternoon when the Chiefs take on the Broncos.
There is always a gradual winnowing of prime-time games late in the NFL season. The league likes to schedule most of its games — and all the consequential ones — on the final day of the season. Why? Because it creates excitement and unpredictability within the playoff picture. That will make Sunday fun, but Thursday may be a drag for those hoping for an exciting, late-season Thursday game.
Here’s everything you need to know about “TNF” in Week 18 and what you can watch with the program finished for the season.
Is there a ‘Thursday Night Football’ game tonight?
No, there is not a “Thursday Night Football” game on Thursday, Jan. 6. The last Thursday night game of the year aired on Dec. 23, when the Titans defeated the 49ers 20-17 in a closely contested battle.
The NFL traditionally hosts Thursday night games from Weeks 1 through 16. It ignores the final two weeks of the season to avoid giving one team a rest advantage going into the playoffs. It also prevents the teams from having rest disadvantages going into a potentially important late-season game.
That said, the NFL does have two Saturday games in the prime-time window scheduled for Week 18. That will give football fans a couple of extra options to watch stand-alone games without “TNF” or “Monday Night Football” in Week 18.
“Thursday Night Football” will return to action in Week 2 of the 2022 NFL season, per usual. There will be a Thursday night game, the NFL’s season opener, in Week 1, but that has been a “Sunday Night Football” contest in the past. So, technically, the program won’t return until Week 2 of the 2022 season but there will be Thursday football starting in Week 1.
NFL schedule Week 18
- Saturday, Jan. 8
|Game||Kickoff time||TV channel|
|Chiefs at Broncos||4:30 p.m. ET||ESPN, ABC|
|Cowboys at Eagles||8:15 p.m. ET||ESPN, ABC|
- Sunday, Jan. 9
|Game||Kickoff time||TV channel|
|Packers at Lions||1 p.m. ET||Fox|
|Colts at Jaguars||1 p.m. ET||CBS|
|Washington Football Team at Giants||1 p.m. ET||Fox|
|Bears at Vikings||1 p.m. ET||Fox|
|Bengals at Browns||1 p.m. ET||CBS|
|Titans at Texans||1 p.m. ET||CBS|
|Steelers at Ravens||1 p.m. ET||CBS|
|Jets at Bills||4:25 p.m. ET||CBS|
|49ers at Rams||4:25 p.m. ET||Fox|
|Seahawks at Cardinals||4:25 p.m. ET||Fox|
|Panthers at Buccaneers||4:25 p.m. ET||Fox|
|Patriots at Dolphins||4:25 p.m. ET||CBS|
|Saints at Falcons||4:25 p.m. ET||Fox|
|Chargers at Raiders||8:20 p.m. ET||NBC|
Sports on TV today
Jan. 6 will mark the first Thursday without football since Aug. 26, after the NFL preseason ended and just days before the college football season began. As such, football fans will have to settle for some other sports to watch. There is some marquee NBA action on Thursday, with TNT airing a doubleheader between the Knicks and Celtics and Suns and Clippers, so that will probably be the biggest draw for those looking for fill-in programming.
Here’s a look at what you can watch during the time slot normally occupied by “Thursday Night Football.”
- NBA: Knicks vs. Celtics (7:30 p.m. ET, TNT) and Suns vs. Clippers (10 p.m. ET, TNT)
- NHL: Bruins vs. Wild (7 p.m. ET, ESPN)
- NCAAM: Illinois vs. Maryland (7 p.m., ESPN2) and Stanford vs. UCLA (9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)