Regional Roundup: NFL Week 14

Weeks removed from working college football games, Gus Johnson and Charles Davis are together again, as they have been assigned this weekend’s Atlanta Falcons/Carolina Panthers NFL matchup.

Gus. Is. Back. Your regional roundup for week 14, a week in which Fox has the doubleheader.

EARLY GAMES

CBS: The San Diego Chargers announced this week that they will remove the “stickum” from head coach Norv Turner and general manager A.J. Smith at the end of the season. But first, they’ll play out the string, starting with a trip to Heinz Field, and a Pittsburgh Steelers team that gets Ben Roethlisberger back. Also returning to Pittsburgh for the first time in just over a year are Jim Nantz and Phil Simms. Had the New York Jets been playing good – or playing Tim Tebow – you’d probably expect the duo to work that game. Alas, both the Jets and their next opponent, the Jacksonville Jaguars, are two teams headed to the top ten in the 2013 NFL Draft, and Kevin Harlan and Solomon Wilcots are stuck with that game. But it could be worse: Bill Macatee and Steve Tasker are calling the Kansas City Chiefs/Cleveland Browns tilt. Meanwhile, Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts are assigned a divisional matchup between the Tennessee Titans and the Indianapolis Colts. And there’s also a Beltway battle brewing, as the Washington Redskins, winner of three straight games against all three NFC East rivals, bring their business to Baltimore and plan on shooing the Ravens, and who better than the great Marv Albert and Rich Gannon to call that contest.

FOX: The day after New Year’s Day 2011. That was the last time Gus Johnson called a regular season NFL game for his former employer, CBS. Since then, he’s moved on to Fox, and with the college football regular season all but wrapped up for the year, guess what? Gus is planning to work a few pro football games before the end of the year. Starting with a divisional showdown between the NFC South-leading Atlanta Falcons and the NFC South-cellar dwelling Carolina Panthers – okay, so it won’t really be a showdown, but when Gus Johnson’s calling the game, it’ll sound like a conference championship game. Gus is joined by Charles Davis, who also has some spare time after the end of the college football regular season (though he did pinch hit on short notice and little sleep for the ailing Brian Billick a couple of weeks ago). The bigger division matchup in Fox’s early game window will take place in Minneapolis,  where the recently-engaged Christian Ponder and his Minnesota Vikings host Jay Cutler and the Chicago Bears, and you can hear Kenny Albert, Daryl “Moose” Johnston and Tony Siragusa work that game. Plus, one week after they couldn’t sell out the joint vs. the Jaguars, the Bills will be playing the St. Louis Rams in a game that will apparently be televised in Buffalo, and will certainly be called by Ron Pitts and Mike Martz. Also, the Cincinnati Bengals, winners of four straight, host the Dallas Cowboys, whom NFL Network analyst Heath Evans thinks will lose their next four games. As for this game, it’ll be handled by Thom Brennaman and Brian Billick. And the Philadelphia Eagles, losers of eight straight games, head to Florida to face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It’ll be a special game – no, not because it’s only the second time all season that the Bucs have sold out a home game, but at this game, the team will be honoring the Super Bowl XXXVII-winning team from ten years ago, and many personnel associated with that team, including Jon Gruden, former Bucs head coach – and according to the rumor mill, future Eagles head coach. Wouldn’t that be awkward. For those unable to be in attendance, you can hear Dick Stockton and John Lynch call this one – and yes, that includes you in the Tampa area, too. I tell you, it would have been disappointing if the Buccaneers didn’t sell out this game, not just because of the Super Bowl remembrance festivities, but the fact that they’re in the hunt for a wild card berth in the playoffs. After this game, the Bucs have just one more home game remaining, right before Christmas, against the Rams. It’s too soon right now to determine if this will be sold out – but, hey, if the freakin’ Bills can sell out a home game against the Rams… (By the way, in other blackout news, the Oakland Raiders did sell out their Thursday night game this week – thus continuing a streak of games not locally blacked out on Thursday nights since the package started on NFL Network seven years ago.)

LATE GAMES

CBS: Just one late game in the Eyeball window for this week, and it’ll be in the other Bay area – San Francisco, of course. This week, the 49ers, coached by “Saved By The Bell” bit actor Jim Harbaugh, host the Miami Dolphins, famous for a cameo in the Jim Carrey movie “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective”, among other things. Greg Gumbel and Dan Dierdorf will work this game.

FOX: Last week in this space, I told you that Fox had protected all of the next three New York Giants contests. So clearly, it’s a no-brainer that Joe Buck and Troy Aikman are going to work each and every one of them. First, the Giants host the New Orleans Saints, a team B&A called just two weeks ago vs. the 49ers. Both the Giants and the Saints played each other last year, too, in New Orleans on a Monday night. And Chris Myers and Tim Ryan head to the Pacific Northwest to call the Arizona Cardinals/Seattle Seahawks contest. The Cardinals are reported to be traveling in that direction as well; no word if they’ll actually play in that game, though.

Information from the506.com was used in this post.

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