It’s the final week of the regular season – and thus, the final opportunity to bring you a rundown of who will be calling what games on the last day of the 2011 NFL regular season – which actually falls on the first day of 2012. Go figure.
Week 17 is traditionally a gung-ho week in that both CBS and FOX have double-headers – save for the markets whose teams will be hosting a game, of course.
CBS: With the NFL flexing many games possessing playoff implications into the late game window, it’s no coincidence that many of the games ending up (or staying) in the early game window don’t really have that much appeal – or they’ve lost a lot of the appeal that they might have had at least a month ago. Case in point: The New York Jets are now a longshot to make the playoffs after losing two straight games that they had a considerable chance of winning. Still, CBS is sending Greg Gumbel and Dan Dierdorf to cover the Jets’ likely season finale in Miami, in a game that will be seen in roughly three quarters of the country. With the Texans clinching the AFC South division long ago, their game with the Titans is meaningless, but in a good way. Bill Macatee and Steve Tasker will call this game, which will be seen in the entire state of Texas; the entire state of Tennessee; and for some reason, Seattle, as well. Two of the reasons that the Texans were able to lock up the AFC South – the 4-11 Jaguars and the 2-13 Colts – will square off in Jacksonville; Spero Dedes and the venerable Steve Beuerlein will be handling this one; only the entire state of Indiana will see it, as well as Jacksonville. (Yes, they actually sold out another game!) And had Buffalo not lost seven straight games, perhaps their matchup with New England would have been flexed out to a later window – heck, maybe Gumbel and Dierdorf would have called it. Instead, CBS’ D-team of Don Criqui and Randy Cross will call this game, which will be seen in Atlanta, Oklahoma City and Portland, OR, in addition to the usual Northeast territories.
FOX: I suppose my previous statement about the early games in Week 17 not having enough spunk goes out the window with the announcement that FOX’s A-team, Joe Buck and Troy Aikman, will be in New Orleans for the Panthers/Saints game. But they’ll possibly be witnessing some more history, as Drew Brees, one week (okay, six days since he last played on Monday Night Football) removed from breaking Dan Marino’s single-season passing yardage record, looks to build on that record – but it’s contingent on whether or not it will be a close game; figure if it’s a blowout on either side, Brees will be benched in preparation for the playoff run ahead. Though New Orleans could grab a first-round bye by the end of the day, so maybe Brees plays from start to finish. We’ll see – and if you’re in the bottom half of the country, or in the Northeast, chances are you will. Regardless, I’m sure Joe and Troy would rather be in East Rutherford to call the Cowboys/Giants game that will decide the winner of the NFC East, with the loser going home; alas, that was immediately flexed out to Sunday night to NBC, no sooner than a combination of the Giants beating the Jets, and Tim Tebow throwing multiple interceptions, took place. By the way, if you’re on the Eastern seaboard, you won’t be able to watch Panthers/Saints – you’ll be stuck watching the Redskins/Eagles game (aka the anti-NFC East championship game) being called by FOX’s F-team of Ron Pitts and Charles Davis; regardless of who wins this one, both teams will be going home. Meanwhile, in Minneapolis, where a strong Metrodome roof is a welcome sight these days, the Vikings host the Chicago Bears in what will be the season finale for both of these teams, as well; Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston and Tony Siragusa will handle this one. Thom Brenneman and Brian Billick will be at Lambeau Field for the only game in the early window in which both teams could still be playing later in the month. We know the Packers have locked up everything but the kitchen sink; with that said, the Lions could be expecting a tame Packers team (pardon the pun) which could ease Detroit into the playoffs. And with the Lions actually being favored in this game, being played in Green Bay, even the Cowardly Lion thinks this Lions team has all the courage in the world to get a win. Finally, the 49ers visit St. Louis is what will likely be the final game for at least some major Rams personnel – the head coach and general manager have been rumored to be sent packing at season’s end – and Chris Myers and Tim Ryan will have the call.
CBS: Perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself in anticipation of a future column subject, but have you noticed that ever since CBS won that wrestling match with NBC over who would air the Patriots/Broncos tilt, Denver has lost two straight games? And is it a coincidence that both of those games were called by The Eye Network’s top-tier booth of Jim Nantz and Phil Simms? Well, it just so happens that the duo will once again be calling a game in which the Broncos are involved, for a third straight week. Will it be three in a row in the “L” column, as well? We’ll find out, as the Chiefs, led by Kyle Orton – who, you may recall, had started the season with the Broncos – head to Sports Authority Field at Mile High to take on Tim Tebow and his crew. At the moment, Denver leads the AFC West, but a loss here, and it could possibly go to the Oakland Raiders – who are playing at the exact same time, against the San Diego Chargers, in a game that will be called by the legendary Marv Albert, and former Raiders quarterback Rich Gannon. Figure that all but one team will be looking at the scoreboard – the Chargers will probably be looking at the clock on the scoreboard, because they can’t wait to get rid of Norv Turner and A.J. Smith. Also, the Cincinnati Bengals, who were able to successfully sell out a home game with a rare “two-for-the-price-of-one” ticket promotion – as long as it isn’t “ten-cent beer night,” right? – could successfully secure a wild card spot against the team that has all but secured a wild card spot themselves, the Baltimore Ravens. Both the Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers are tied atop the AFC North at 11-4 and are guaranteed playoff berths. And there’s a good chance that both of them will finish the afternoon at 12-4, because the Steelers will be playing the 4-11 Browns. By the way, Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts will be calling Ravens/Bengals, while Kevin Harlan and Solomon Wilcots have Steelers/Browns. (Can’t forget the announcers; they’re the reason these posts were written in the first place!)
FOX: It might be a double-header week for both FOX and CBS, but it probably feels like FOX has the single game deal this week, what with one of the NFC games being shifted to primetime on NBC, and most of the games being played in the early game window. (Am I the only one who noticed how all eight AFC matchups on CBS were evenly divided between the two windows?) How bad is FOX’s Week 17 late game window? Only one of the teams in these two games – the Atlanta Falcons – even has a sniff of making the postseason. And considering they’re just off of a 29-point loss to the Saints, and their opponent is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who are on what appears to be a 29-game losing streak, in any language, this could get ugly. And Dick Stockton and former Buccaneer John Lynch will call all the action – or lack thereof (sorry, Mr. Lynch). The other FOX late game sees Seattle – which had playoff implications up until last week – travel to Arizona; Sam Rosen and Chad Pennington will call that mess.
May you have a happy and healthy New Year. Thanks for reading!
Information from the506.com was used in this post.