Why are there 2 ‘Monday Night Football’ games in Week 3? Explaining the NFL schedule quirk

PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 14: Jalen Hurts #1 of the Philadelphia Eagles looks on from the field during at Lincoln Financial Field on September 14, 2023 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)
By The Athletic Staff
Sep. 25, 2023

The Athletic has live coverage of Eagles vs. Buccaneers and Rams vs. Bengals  on Monday Night Football.

After a full slate of NFL games on Sunday, Monday nights are typically reserved for one final marquee matchup before teams and fans turn their attention to the next week on the schedule. But Week 3 of the 2023 season features an interesting quirk: Two games will air simultaneously for an overlapping “Monday Night Football” doubleheader.


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

Why are there two ‘Monday Night Football’ games on Sept. 25?

In March 2021, the NFL finalized an 11-year media rights agreement with its previously existing broadcast partners, plus Amazon Prime Video, that granted more content to Disney by increasing the number of games on ESPN and ABC from 17 to 23. Beginning in 2022, there were to be three multi-game “Monday Night Football” weeks each season. The structuring of the schedule to air two overlapping Monday night games last season was Disney’s way of testing the waters to decide how to approach future multi-game “MNF” weeks.

Another possible explanation for the concurrent broadcasts is that overlapping the games, rather than scheduling the second game to kick off at the conclusion of the first, will hypothetically result in the late game ending at a decent hour on the East Coast.



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Which teams will share the spotlight?

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers host the Philadelphia Eagles in the first “MNF” game of Week 3, kicking off at 7:15 p.m. ET. The second game of the night between the Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Rams in Cincinnati will begin at 8:15 p.m. ET.



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How will the simultaneous broadcasts work?

The Eagles-Bucs game will air on ABC while the Rams-Bengals matchup will be on ESPN. When the Los Angeles-Cincinnati game gets underway, both broadcasts will include a “noticeable, but smaller, less prominent, score box” of the other matchup on the screen, per ESPN. There will also be “a double-box view” at times throughout the games, giving fans the opportunity to watch both contests concurrently. ESPN predicts that the games will “overlap for roughly one 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 taking on the Philadelphia Eagles at 8:30 p.m. ET on ABC. It also occurred in Week 4 of the 2020 season, when a game between the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs was pushed back from Sunday because of COVID-19. That week, the Pats and Chiefs kicked off at 7:05 p.m. ET on CBS, while the Atlanta Falcons and Green Bay Packers began their game at 8:50 p.m. ET on ESPN.

There was also a “MNF” doubleheader exactly 17 years ago on Sept. 19, 2005, per ESPN. The Saints were originally scheduled to host the New York Giants on the preceding Sunday, but the game was rescheduled to the next night and relocated to New York due to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The New Orleans-New York game kicked off at 7:30 p.m. ET and first aired on ABC but moved to ESPN when the Dallas-Washington matchup that had been slated for the ABC “MNF” slot began at 9 p.m. ET.

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(Photo: Cooper Neill / Getty Images)

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