Another Giant stage, after a giant natural disaster. It’s the midway point of the 2012 NFL season, on a weekend in which CBS, despite having one less game than Fox to work with, has the doubleheader. No blackouts this week, though there were a couple that came close to it that you’ll find out about as you continue reading. And as I mentioned in an earlier post today, last night’s Chargers/Chiefs game in San Diego would have been the first-ever game to be blacked out locally in the seven-year history of “Thursday Night Football” on NFL Network… though I believe future “TNF” games this season will be in Jacksonville and Buffalo, so there’s hope.
CBS: The first of the aforementioned near-blackouts is in Cincinnati, where the Bengals failed to sell out six of their eight home games last season. But you can count on the arm of Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos to sell some tickets. This game will be worked by Greg Gumbel and Dan Dierdorf, and be shown in roughly three quarters of the country – or the percentage of home games the Bengals failed to sell out last year. The remaining three games on CBS’ early game window menu are contests that will be seen virtually only in states, or areas of states, in which there is team interest: all of Texas and most of New York State (but not New York City) will watch Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts call the Bills and the Houston Texans; all of Indiana and some of Illinois and Kentucky, and all of Florida (except Jacksonville) will see Kevin Harlan and Solomon Wilcots work the Miami Dolphins and the Indianapolis Colts game; and the great Marv Albert is back alongside Rich Gannon for a divisional matchup between the Baltimore Ravens and the Cleveland Browns, which will be seen in most of Ohio, and the entire mid-atlantic region from Harrisburg to Norfolk.
FOX: Joe Buck probably wishes the World Series was still going on this weekend – that way, he wouldn’t have to work the Arizona Cardinals/Green Bay Packers game with Troy Aikman. I’m sure there’s one game he’d rather call, but alas, it’s on CBS this week. But at least he’ll have a wider audience than that of the Carolina Panthers/Washington Redskins game that will be called by Kenny Albert, Daryl “Moose” Johnston and Tony Siragusa: according to the506.com, many markets from Atlanta to Alexandria, from Pittsburgh to Panama City, and all of New England, have exercised their right to vote on this weekend prior to Election Day (and if you’re reading this, do not forget to do the same this Tuesday) and have elected to air the Cardinals/Packers game in lieu of Panthers/Redskins. Even Wichita has opted not to show Cam Newton vs. RGIII, instead choosing the Chicago Bears/Tennessee Titans tilt from Nashville, where Thom Brennaman and Brian Billick will interpret the game action to viewers. And in a game that will be shown only in the Panhandle area and virtually all of Michigan, Ron Pitts will be calling the Detroit Lions/Jacksonville Jaguars game alongside Mike Martz, who coached the Lions for two seasons.
CBS: Once again, the New York Giants have the late game window all to themselves on the network. Last week, Fox featured the Giants/Cowboys game from Dallas in the late afternoon, and this week, Big Blue will be playing another game with a 4:25 PM start – and that’s good news for their next opponent, the Pittsburgh Steelers, who will actually be flying into New Jersey on game day, as the hotel that the team originally booked with had experienced power failure, as a result of Hurricane Sandy. And while the storm was enough to postpone the Brooklyn opener of Nets basketball and most recently, the New York City Marathon, the Steelers/Giants game appears to be a go, despite many areas of New Jersey still sidelined by power outages. The Giants have won four straight games on CBS. Oh yeah, in case you haven’t already figured it out by now, Jim Nantz and former Giants quarterback Phil Simms will be handling this game.
FOX: The other game that just had a blackout lifted for this weekend is the Oakland Raiders’ home game against a team that knows a thing or two about having home games blacked out, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Dick Stockton, along with former Bucs defensive back John Lynch, will work this game. The last time the Buccaneers played in the Bay Area, they were bludgeoned by the 49ers by 45 points. The last time the Buccaneers played a game was last Thursday night, in their road victory over the Minnesota Vikings, so it’s fair to say that both the Bucs and Vikings have had maximum rest time allowed without the assist of a bye week. This week, the Vikings travel to Seattle, where the Seahawks are 3-0 at home so far this season; incidentally, the Vikings were 4-0 at home until their last game. Chris Myers and Tim Ryan will be making themselves at home in Qwest Field for this one.