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6 things we already know about the 2017 NFL schedule before its official release Thursday

The schedule will be announced at 8 p.m. ET Thursday on NFL Network.

Super Bowl LI - New England Patriots v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The NFL will release the full 2017 schedule on Thursday at 8 p.m. ET with the annual primetime special. It’s kinda of an exciting moment for fans. Since the 2016 season ended, we’ve all been waiting to find out how the 2017 would take shape, and that moment is nearly here.

Perhaps you live out of state, but you’re planning a pilgrimage to see your team play at home this season. Maybe you want to know when your team will face off against division rivals, because those are can’t-miss games. Whatever the reason, we’re all excited to know the actual NFL schedule for the coming season.

But until that moment comes on Thursday at 8 p.m. with a live announcement on NFL Network, we can at least pencil in some things based on what we already know.

The opening Thursday Night Football game is probably not going to be a Super Bowl LI rematch

Last season, the Panthers and Broncos faced off on Thursday Night Football for the first game of the season in a rematch of Super Bowl 50. Don’t expect the Patriots and Falcons to do the same this year. The expectation is that the Falcons will get the first Sunday Night Football game of the year to show off the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

That first Thursday Night Football matchup will probably feature the Patriots, though. The rumor is that the Chiefs could be the Patriots’ first opponent of the 2017 season. Oh, and by the way, Roger Goodell is expected to be there.

The slate of international games is set, and one of them is at 9:30 a.m. ET

The league announced the details for international games way back in December, so none of these will be a surprise when the schedule is officially released.

There will be four games played in London, with two in Wembley Stadium and two at Twickenham Stadium. At Wembley, the Ravens will face off against the Jaguars in Week 3 or Week 4, and the Saints will meet the Dolphins in Week 4. The Vikings and Browns will play each other in Week 7 or 8 at Twickenham, and the Cardinals and Rams will match up in Twickenham in Week 7 or 8.

At least one of those games will be played at 9:30 a.m. ET, despite the fact that a lot of people hate that timing.

It has also been confirmed that the Raiders will return to Mexico City this season, and they’ll host the Patriots. We just don’t know when, but we’ll find out Thursday.

We know all of the matchups for the coming season

The schedule release will let us know the specifics, but we do know the opponents each team will face in 2017.

We all are aware of the obvious matchups, like those that pit your favorite team against each division opponent twice in any given season. The league announced each team’s full slate of opponents back in January.

There are playoff rematches galore

We saw some thrilling games in the postseason, and we’ll have plenty of rematches this year. The Steelers will face off against the Chiefs and the Patriots. The Packers take on the Cowboys and the Falcons, and the Falcons also will meet the Seahawks.

Atlanta plays every team it faced in the postseason en route to the Super Bowl last year. We’ll even have a Super Bowl LI rematch between Atlanta and New England.

Assuming all of these teams return to the field near to their 2016 forms, these rematches should make for some great games in 2017.

Washington will host its first Thanksgiving Day game

Washington played on Thanksgiving Day last year, losing to the Cowboys 31-26 in Dallas. This season will mark the first time the team will host a Thanksgiving game. They’ll welcome the New York Giants to FedEx Field in Week 12 for a Thursday Night Football matchup.

Chargers-Broncos will be the first Monday Night Football matchup

The Broncos will kick off the 2017 season at home, welcoming the Los Angeles Chargers to Mile High Stadium for the first Monday Night Football of the season.

It’ll be the very first game for the Los Angeles Chargers, against a Broncos team looking to bounce back after last year’s 9-7 finish. Both teams have brand new head coaches, with Anthony Lynn taking over in Los Angeles and Vance Joseph at the helmo in Denver.

These AFC West rivals were the only two teams from the division to miss the playoffs last season, and both will look to get the 2017 season off to a good start in primetime.