Regional Roundup: NFL Week 15

The last time the Pittsburgh Steelers played the Dallas Cowboys in Texas, the Cowboys’ starting quarterback was 1986 Heisman Tropy winner Vinny Testaverde (or, if you prefer, Vinny Football). This week, his eventual successor, Tony Romo, battles Ben Roethlisberger.

First and foremost, prayers to everyone related to the victims in what was confirmed to be the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history – yes, even more than Columbine – that took place in Newtown, Connecticut.

As Roger Goodell says, back to football. But not in San Diego, where the Chargers will once again be blacked out. And the Oakland Raiders might be joining them, as they have been granted an extension to sell out their game this weekend. Any updates will be posted in this space. It’s a CBS doubleheader weekend, except for San Diego, even as it’s a Fox Chargers game, as league rules prohibit a network doubleheader being in effect in markets where a team’s game is blacked out locally.


CBS: Hard to believe that CBS has the doubleheader, despite having three less games to work with than Fox. But most of them are going to be thrilling to watch. The Denver Broncos will be taking their seven-game winning streak to Baltimore, where the Ravens, after a two-game slide, recently fired offensive coordinator Cam Cameron and named his replacement, Jim Caldwell – who I’m sure Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning knows a thing or two about, as Caldwell had been a coach on Manning’s former team, the Indianapolis Colts, for a decade, including three of them as the head coach. Greg Gumbel and Dan Dierdorf will work this game from Charm City. As for those Colts, led by their charming rookie quarterback Andrew Luck, they’ve been on a tear, threatening the Houston Texans for the top spot in the AFC South division – there’s just one problem: in their previous thirteen games, the Colts haven’t played the Texans – and they’ll be in Houston this weekend, as will Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts. A Colts victory in Houston would certainly make their Week 17 rematch an early favorite to be flexed into this season’s “Sunday Night Football” finale. And you know what hasn’t been featured on “SNF” in awhile? A football team from Florida: the Sunshine State was last represented by the Miami Dolphins in Week 4 of 2010. This week, two Florida teams will be facing off, as the Fins host the Jacksonville Jaguars. And yes, this game will be thrilling because it will be called by the great Marv Albert, along with Rich Gannon.

FOX: Color me shocked. When Fox up and protected a three-game stretch of games involving the New York Giants this month, I was convinced that Joe Buck, who went so far as to agree to call both a Giants/49ers game from San Francisco, before taking a cable car to AT&T Park to work a World Series game with the San Francisco baseball Giants, would be all over them. As it turns out, Buck and his booth buddy Troy Aikman will actually be in Soldier Field for a divisional showdown between the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears. So that rematch of last year’s wild card playoff game between the Giants and the Atlanta Falcons – in which the Falcons scored all of two points – will be worked by the trio of Kenny Albert, Daryl “Moose” Johnston and Tony Siragusa. And there will be yet another divisional tilt taking place in New Orleans, as the Saints host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who saw their playoff hopes all but dashed last week by the Philadelphia Eagles, who ended their eight-game losing streak on a day in which the Bucs celebrated the tenth anniversary of their Super Bowl team – a Super Bowl trip that was denied to the Eagles (who, by the way, went back to their losing ways on Thursday night). Thom Brennaman and Brian Billick will be working this game. Meanwhile, Adrian Peterson, who is charging to break rushing records this season, will be leading his Minnesota Vikings to Missouri, hoping to upend the St. Louis Rams and say, “show me the playoffs!” (Because Missouri is the Show Me State, you see.) Assigned to this game are none other than Gus Johnson and Charles Davis. And just days after enduring ESPN’s Rob Parker calling him out as a “cornball brother” (he’s since been suspended for those remarks), Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins will face a true endurance test as they play a Cleveland Browns team that has won three straight games. Ron Pitts and Mike Martz will work this game from the Dawg Pound – I understand Parker will be watching this one from the doghouse.


CBS: Last season, Jim Nantz and Phil Simms called two Cowboys games: a Week 10 matchup with the Bills, and of course, the Thanksgiving contest with the Dolphins in Week 12. This week, the duo returns to Jerry World as the Cowboys host the Pittsburgh Steelers, who have won their last two matchups with Dallas. (Bonus: Watch this recap of the 1994 season opener for the Cowboys and the Steelers, from ESPN B.F.T. – or Before First Take.) The fifth and final game on CBS’ menu this weekend is the Kansas City Chiefs vs. the Oakland Raiders, which will be worked by Kevin Harlan and Solomon Wilcots.

FOX: Dick Stockton and John Lynch will be shuffling off to… Toronto? Yep, it’s that time again where a Buffalo Bills home game is farmed out to Canada. This week, the Bills “host” the Seattle Seahawks, fresh off of a thumping of the Arizona Cardinals by nearly sixty points. (Question: Suppose the game didn’t sell out in the Great White North – would that mean Western New York wouldn’t get to see it?) I’m surprised that the Cardinals’ next home game isn’t blacked out after that debacle last week, and this week, they play host (without quotation marks, this time) to the high-flying Detroit Lions, in a game that will be called by Chris Myers and Tim Ryan, and shown virtually only in the states of Arizona and Michigan. As you know, around this time, fantasy football is in playoff mode, and I know several people that plan on using the Lions defense this week, so I’ll just say this: If the Cardinals win this one, there are going to be a lot of angry people calling for Jim Schwartz to be fired after this season. And speaking of head coaches getting fired, Norv Turner will be on the sidelines for his penultimate home game as head coach of the San Diego Chargers, who this week will play a team that actually has a record worse than theirs, the Carolina Panthers. In other words, expect Cam Newton to “charge” up the scoreboard. This game will be worked by Sam Rosen and Heath Evans, and televised only in the Carolinas – so if this becomes a blowout early, don’t be surprised if they start paying tribute to Andy Griffith at some point.

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