It wouldn't be out of line to say Al Michaels was less than enthralled with the "Thursday Night Football" slate last season. After Amazon Prime's "TNF" era kicked off with a bang (Chiefs-Chargers) in Week 2, there wasn't much to write home about.
Weeks 4, 5, and 6 were particularly brutal, with Tua Tagovailoa's head injury overshadowing Dolphins vs. Bengals, the Colts and Broncos putting on an inept performance, and the Commanders and Bears somehow topping it the following week.
Michaels himself was often criticized for being completely checked out during some of those games, culminating in his boredom during a legitimately thrilling playoff game (that was broadcast on NBC) that saw the Jaguars erase a 27-point deficit against the Chargers to advance. Michaels brushed off criticisms of him as "internet compost," and now he appears ready for the 2023 season.
"Absolutely!” Michaels told Sports Illustrated's Jimmy Traina when asked if he was excited about this year's "TNF" slate. “Love the way we come out of the gate. Three 'A' grade games. Two Aaron Rodgers games. Baltimore-Cincinnati, another good one. League did us a solid.
"I was raring to go the minute I saw the whole slate. Already thinking of storylines for each game, of which there is no shortage."
Helping that enthusiasm along is the league doing away with the rule that every team must play a prime-time game. The Texans, Colts, Falcons and Cardinals are not scheduled for one this season. "TNF" was often reserved for throwaway matchups.
'Thursday Night Football' schedule 2023
Amazon's "Thursday Night Football" schedule this year begins with the NFC champion Eagles hosting the Vikings in Week 2. The "A-grade" games Michaels refernced will be in Weeks 11, 12 and 17. Week 12 is, in fact, the inaugural Black Friday game, which will feature Rodgers' Jets hosting the Dolphins.
"Great idea," Michaels said of the Black Friday game. "Tens of millions recovering from the prior day’s tryptophan hangover will love it. Rodgers-Tua, a marquee matchup on any day."