NFL throws huge Christmas curveball on 2016 regular-season schedule

If Santa gets a late start delivering Christmas gifts this year, just blame the NFL, because it's very likely he'll be spending Christmas Eve watching football instead of delivering presents.

Since Christmas falls on a Sunday in 2016, the NFL altered its schedule this year so that 28 of the league's 32 teams would have the day off. The league revealed Thursday that there will only be a total of two games played on Sunday, Dec. 25, and those games shouldn't interfere with anyone who's opening gifts that morning.

The Steelers will host the Ravens in a game that will kick off at 4:30 p.m. ET on NFL Network. That game will be followed by the Broncos playing in Kansas City against the Chiefs in a game that will kick off at 8:30 p.m. ET on NBC.

This season will mark the first time in 10 years that the NFL has held two regular-season games on Christmas Day. The league also held a Christmas Day doubleheader from 2004-06. The Steelers are the only one of the four teams that has never played on Christmas. 

Anyway, just because the other 28 teams aren't playing on Christmas doesn't mean they'll be getting a bye though. The NFL will hold a total of 12 games on Christmas Eve (Saturday, Dec. 24), a slate that includes a prime-time game between the Bengals and Texans.

All other Christmas Eve games will be played either at 1 p.m. ET or just after 4 p.m. ET.

There's also four teams that don't have to worry about playing on Dec. 24 or 25. The Eagles will host the Giants in a Thursday night game before Christmas (Dec. 22), while the Cowboys will host the Lions on the Monday after Christmas (Dec. 26).

If you like avoiding your family around the holidays, then now would be a good time to jump on the Steelers bandwagon. Not only do the Steelers play on Christmas, but they also play on Thanksgiving (at Colts) and New Year's Day (vs. Browns).

To see the entire NFL schedule for all 32 teams, be sure to head over to this link.

The 2016 NFL season kicks off on Sept. 8 with the Broncos hosting the Panthers in a rematch of Super Bowl 50.

The NFL is playing two games on Christmas this year. (USATSI)
The NFL is playing two games on Christmas this year. (USATSI)

CBS Sports Writer

John Breech has been at CBS Sports since July 2011 and currently spends most of his time writing about the NFL. He's believed to be one of only three people in the world who thinks that Andy Dalton will... Full Bio

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