Vikings to Open Monday Night Schedule

The Vikings are going to open the 2005 season in prime time as part of ESPN's new Monday night package.

The NFL today announced the games that are going to be part of the league's annual Kickoff Weekend festivities. Among them will be the Vikings opening the season as part of a double-header game package on Monday night, Sept. 11, on ESPN.

The Vikings will have a 6 p.m. local start time when they play at the Washington Redskins.

The full schedule is expected to be announced in April.

The Monday "nightcap" at 9:15 p.m. Central will San Diego at Oakland.

In a tradition instituted in 2004, the Super Bowl champion annually hosts the NFL Thursday night season kickoff the following year. On Sept. 7 at 7:30 p.m. Central, the Super Bowl XL champion Pittsburgh Steelers play host to the Miami Dolphins as NBC broadcasts NFL games for the first time since 1997. In promoting that game, the NFL is being optimistic about the return of quarterback Daunte Culpepper, who is trying to come back from tearing three ligaments on Oct. 30, 2005.

Opening Sunday, Sept. 10, features a FOX national game at 3:15 p.m. Central featuring the Dallas Cowboys at the Jacksonville Jaguars, who finished 12-4 and earned a playoff spot last season. The Sunday night primetime game at 7:15 p.m. Eastern on NBC will be a history-maker. The AFC South champion Indianapolis Colts will visit the NFC East titleist New York Giants. It will be a matchup of quarterback brothers – the Colts' 30-year-old Peyton Manning against his sibling, 25-year-old Eli of the Giants. It will be the first time in NFL history that brothers will start at quarterback against each other.

The NFL also announced a Thanksgiving triple-header, with the league starting its new late-season primetime television package on NFL Network on Thanksgiving night. The early game that day (11:30 a.m. on CBS) will feature the Dolphins at the Detroit Lions. The second game (3:15 p.m. on FOX) will send the NFC South champion Tampa
Bay Buccaneers to Dallas to face the Cowboys. The Thanksgiving package concludes at 7 p.m. on NFL Network when the top two teams in the AFC West last year meet. The Denver Broncos (13-3) will visit the Kansas City Chiefs (10-6).

The rest of the 2006 regular-season schedule will be finalized and announced in April.

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