NFL Releases Early Schedule

Sick of seeing Peyton Manning on TV? Get used to it. He's going to open the 2007 season on national TV and highlight the NFL's Thanksgiving triple-header telecast.

The complete 2007 NFL schedule will be announced early next month, but the NFL on Monday got a jump on releasing some key dates for the opening week of the season and for the league's Thanksgiving triple-header.

The 2007 season will open Thursday, Sept. 6 when the defending champion Colts meet the Saints on NBC. The opening weekend gets kicked off with a pair of nationally televised games – the Bears at the Chargers at 4:15 Eastern on FOX and the Giants and Cowboys on Sunday night at 8:15 p.m. The league will again showcase a Monday night doubleheader, as the Ravens travel to play the Bengals and the Cardinals meet the 49ers on ESPN.

On Thanksgiving Day, a triple-header of games will again include the NFL Network. The early game on Fox (12:30 p.m. ET) will pit the Packers and Lions. The second game (4:15 p.m. ET) will have the Jets traveling to Dallas on CBS and the NFL Network will get what looks to be a plum game when the Colts travel to play the Falcons at 8:15 p.m. ET.

The Vikings' chances of getting prime time games wasn't helped by their 6-10 finish and, while they may have one or two games in prime time, they may be left off the Monday night schedule this season.

TUESDAY NOTES
* At the owners meetings in Arizona, Zygi Wilf said the Vikings and their fans need to be patient about building a winner. He acknowledged that it might take two or more years to build a contender and vowed to stay the course even if fans disagree.
* The league approved a revenue-sharing plan at the owners meetings that will distribute $430 million to the "low-revenue teams" from 2006-09, with 2006 payments being retroactive. The vote passed 30-2 with the Jaguars and Bengals voting against it. The plan could give the Vikings an extra $5-10 million a year under the plan.
* The latest rumor making the round is that free spender Daniel Snyder is willing to part with quite a bit to get disgruntled Bears linebacker Lance Briggs. If that's true, you can bet on two things – the Bears will be hurt by the loss of Briggs and his career will find a way to go into the toilet once he signs on with the Redskins.
* The league handed out its list of compensatory picks for the 2007 draft. Four picks will come at the end of the third round to the Chargers, 49ers, Colts and Raiders. Six picks will be allocated at the end of the fourth round, five in the fifth, four in the sixth and 13 in the seventh round. The Vikings didn't get any compensatory picks.

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