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NFL releases 2008 schedule; Bills to host Dolphins in Toronto

4/15/2008 - NFL

NEW YORK -- The Buffalo Bills will play in Toronto on Dec. 7 against Miami as part of an effort to expand their market to Canada.

This marks the first time the Bills will play during the regular season in Toronto, about a 1½-hour drive from Buffalo. The game was one of the highlights of the NFL schedule released Tuesday.

The season opens Sept. 4 with Washington, led by new head coach Jim Zorn, at the Super Bowl XLII champion New York Giants, a game already announced along with three others from the opening weekend: Chicago at Indianapolis on Sunday night, Sept. 7 and two games Monday night, Sept. 8: Minnesota at Green Bay and Denver at Oakland.

ESPN's Monday night schedule concludes with one of the NFL's most-heated rivalries, with the Packers hosting the Bears. Green Bay appears three times on Monday night, matching the Browns for most appearances on Monday night in 2008.

The Giants make their lone Monday night appearance on Oct. 13 when they travel to Cleveland. The Patriots, who flirted with a perfect season in 2007, will make their only Monday night appearance on Oct. 20 when they host the Broncos.

Also, the Houston Texans will make their first-ever appearance on Monday Night Football, hosting the Jaguars on Dec. 1.

For the second consecutive year, a regular-season game will be played at London's Wembley Stadium, with New Orleans, the "home" team, opposing San Diego on Oct. 26. The Dolphins and Giants played there last season.

New England, which was upset in the Super Bowl by the Giants but has a record 19-game regular-season winning streak, will open at home against Kansas City on Sept. 7. In what has become an annual must-see game, Tom Brady and the Patriots will visit Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, Nov. 2.

Once again, there will be a Thanksgiving Day tripleheader. The Lions will host the the Titans at 12:30 p.m. ET, the Seahawks will visit the Cowboys at 4:15 p.m. ET and the Eagles will host the Cardinals at 8:15 p.m. ET.

Besides Zorn, three other NFL coaches will make their debuts this season. In Week 1, the Ravens' John Harbaugh will lead his team against the Cincinnati Bengals in Baltimore; the Dolphins' Tony Sparano will make his debut against the Jets in Miami; and the Falcons' Mike Smith will lead his team against the Lions.

The NFL Network games, in their third season, will start earlier this season with Denver at Cleveland on Thursday, Nov. 6. In all, there will be eight, but no Saturday night game on the final weekend when last year the Patriots finished an unbeaten regular season by beating the Giants 38-35 in a contest that also was shown by NBC and CBS because the NFL Network's dispute with major cable systems limited its availability.

The other NFL Network games are all on Thursday nights except for Saturday, Dec. 20, when Baltimore is at Dallas.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.