Regional Roundup: NFL Week 4

Last year, the New Orleans Saints and the Green Bay Packers combined for 76 points in the season kickoff game. Now, a ticked-off Packers squad could send the Saints to an 0-4 start in what could easily be the most-watched game this weekend.

Nantz embraces the Broncos, while Buck crossed Bays. And will a dire prediction about one team from one of their own former players come true this weekend? It’s a Fox doubleheader weekend.


CBS: Every single one of the three early window matchups that the Eyeball Network will be broadcasting is a divisional tilt. First, we find Greg Gumbel and Dan Dierdorf in Buffalo – why this crew after Spero Dedes was assigned to cover Bills games the previous two weeks? Probably because they’re playing the New England Patriots, who are currently on a two-game losing streak. You may recall last season, both teams combined for 65 points in Orchard Park, with the Patriots on the short end of the stick. Bill “Tickle Me Replacement Ref” Belichick can’t afford to drop another one here: in the Tom Brady era, no Patriots team has ever lost three games in the month of September – and yes, this includes the 2008 season where Matt Cassel relieved Brady midway through the first game of the year, and the 2001 season where the Week 2 game was redirected to after New Year’s Day following the September 11th attacks; the Patriots won that rescheduled game and so had it been played on its original date, they’d be 2-2 in September of that month. Next, we head to Houston, where the undefeated Texans host the Tennessee Titans, with Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts on the play-by-play. And the San Diego Chargers square off against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead (Surprised This Hasn’t Been Replaced By A Corporate Sponsor Yet) Stadium, where Kevin Harlan and Solomon Wilcots will be situated for the game.

FOX: The New York Jets are featured on Fox for the first time this season as the San Francisco 49ers travel to New Jersey – but apparently, it won’t be a Joe Buck game since it is not yet “Tebow Time” for Gang Green. Still, it’s always fun when Kenny Albert, Daryl “Moose” Johnston and Tony Siragusa get the call: they called Fox’s only Jets game from last season, their Christmas Eve contest against the crosstown New York Giants (you may recall the other NFC visitor that year, the Dallas Cowboys, opened up the season on NBC’s “Sunday Night Football”). The next Jets game scheduled for Fox is against the Arizona Cardinals in December – and provided they’re still as competitive as they are at the moment, that could be a Buck game, Tebow Time or not. Meanwhile, the remainder of Fox’s early games will consist of divisional matchups: there’s the Detroit Lions hosting the Minnesota Vikings, with Thom Brenneman and Brian Billick in the booth; the Carolina Panthers claw their way to the Georgia Dome to face the Atlanta Falcons, which will be handled by Dick Stockton and John Lynch; and Ron Pitts and Mike Martz will work the Seattle Seahawks/St. Louis Rams game from Missouri.


CBS: If you read this space last week, you’ll know that it’s been a very long time since Jim Nantz called a game involving Peyton Manning. And while his drought ended in Week 3, the result was a loss to the Houston Texans. Perhaps Nantz, along with Phil Simms, are hoping for a different result for the Denver Broncos as they host the Oakland Raiders. Let’s hope he’s not in the midst of a jinx similar to the one he had with Tim Tebow late last season. Also, the undefeated Arizona Cardinals are looking for a fish fry to go with a 4-0 start as they entertain the Miami Dolphins, and Bill Macatee and Steve Tasker plan on entertaining the viewers with their play-by-play. And for a change, Marv Albert won’t be calling a game at the same time his brother Kenny is: he and Rich Gannon will be in Jacksonville as the Jaguars get into a dogfight with the Cincinnati Bengals. It’s noteworthy that all three Florida NFL franchises will be active in the late game window this week – but the CBS games will be televised in their territories as planned…

FOX: That’s right, once again, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, with their new 85% sellout threshold, still were not able to sell enough tickets to avert a blackout in the Tampa area. I bet Captain Fear was crying when he heard the news. Local fans who weren’t fired up enough to watch the Bucs vs. Cam Newton and the Panthers in the season opener – a game they won – apparently don’t care less about RGIII, either. It’ll be the Washington Redskins vs. the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, with Chris Myers and Tim Ryan calling the game for those in areas except Tampa. The good news is the Buccaneers don’t have to worry about a game being blacked out next week – it’s their bye week. But they return with two more home games at Raymond James Stadium, with less than appetizing opponents in the Kansas City Chiefs and the New Orleans Saints, the latter of which could still be winless by then. And that leads us to the marquee matchup of Week 4, which finds the Saints, still with a semi-skeleton crew coaching staff as Sean Payton and others are currently serving suspensions, playing the Green Bay Packers, fresh off their loss to the Seattle Seahawks in a game that ended with the controversial touchdown that all but led to the league striking a new deal with the original referee staff. It will be a Lambeau Field full of pissed off Packers fans and players. Adding Joe Buck and Troy Aikman to the formula could lead to ratings gold. And if the Saints are indeed defrocked on the frozen tundra, the prediction by former Saints safety and current NFL Network analyst Darren Sharper that the team would go 0-4 in September will come into full fruition. And should the game get out of hand early, I’d browse NFLN just to see if Sharper comments about it on the “NFL GameDay Scoreboard” show. That is, unless he isn’t doing appearances with The Amazing Kreskin by then.

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