2013 NFL Schedule: The Primetime Games: Broncos, Falcons, 49ers, Giants, Patriots, Redskins Have Five Games Each

 

 

 

 

 

 

Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins will play five games in primetime this season, starting with the 2013 opener against the Philadelphia Eagles on September 9 on ESPN.

Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins will play five games in primetime this season, starting with the 2013 opener against the Philadelphia Eagles on September 9 on ESPN.

Here is the list of all the primetime games scheduled for the 2013 NFL season.

Commentary to follow… Actually, I’ll get the back-patting out of the way early: I called the Ravens/Broncos opener on September 5, and I called the Washington Redskins getting five primetime games this season, up from just one last year.

And here are the games:

Thursday, September 5 – Baltimore Ravens @ Denver Broncos – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

Sunday, September 8 – New York Giants @ Dallas Cowboys – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

Monday, September 9 – Philadelphia Eagles @ Washington Redskins – 7:10 PM ET – ESPN

Monday, September 9 –  Houston Texans @ San Diego Chargers – 10:20 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, September 12 – New York Jets @ New England Patriots – 8:25 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, September 15 – San Francisco 49ers @ Seattle Seahawks – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

Monday, September 16 – Pittsburgh Steelers @ Cincinnati Bengals – 8:40 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, September 19 – Kansas City Chiefs @ Philadelphia Eagles – 8:25 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, September 22 – Chicago Bears @ Pittsburgh Steelers – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

Monday, September 23 – Oakland Raiders @ Denver Broncos – 8:40 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, September 26 – San Francisco 49ers @ St. Louis Rams – 8:25 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, September 29 – New England Patriots @ Atlanta Falcoms – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

Monday, September 30 – Miami Dolphins @ New Orleans Saints – 8:40 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, October 3 – Buffalo Bills @ Cleveland Browns – 8:25 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, October 6 – Houston Texans @ San Francisco 49ers – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

Monday, October 7 – New York Jets @ Atlanta Falcons – 8:40 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, October 10 – New York Giants @ Chicago Bears – 8:25 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, October 13 – Washington Redskins @ Dallas Cowboys – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

Monday, October 14 – Indianapolis Colts @ San Diego Chargers – 8:40 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, October 17 – Seattle Seahawks @ Arizona Cardinals – 8:25 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, October 20 – Denver Broncos @ Indianapolis Colts – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

Monday, October 21 – Minnesota Vikings @ New York Giants – 8:40 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, October 24 – Carolina Panthers @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 8:25 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, October 27 – Green Bay Packers @ Minnesota Vikings – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

Monday, October 28 – Seattle Seahawks @ St. Louis Rams – 8:40 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, October 31 – Cincinnati Bengals @ Miami Dolphins – 8:25 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, November 3 – Indianapolis Colts @ Houston Texans – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

Monday, November 4 – Chicago Bears @ Green Bay Packers – 8:40 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, November 7 – Washington Redskins @ Minnesota Vikings – 8:25 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, November 10 – Dallas Cowboys @ New Orleans Saints – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

Monday, November 11 – Miami Dolphins @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 8:40 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, November 14 –Indianapolis Colts @ Tennessee Titans – 8:25 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, November 17 – Green Bay Packers @ New York Giants – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

Monday, November 18 – New England Patriots @ Carolina Panthers – 8:40 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, November 21 – New Orleans Saints @ Atlanta Falcons – 8:25 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, November 24 – Denver Broncos @ New England Patriots – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

Monday, November 25 – San Francisco 49ers @ Washington Redskins – 8:40 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, November 28 (Thanksgiving) – Pittsburgh Steelers @ Baltimore Ravens – 8:20 PM ET – NBC

Sunday, December 1 – New York Giants @ Washington Redskins – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

Monday, December 2 – New Orleans Saints @ Seattle Seahawks – 8:40 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, December 5 – Houston Texans @ Jacksonville Jaguars – 8:25 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, December 8 – Atlanta Falcons @ Green Bay Packers – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

Monday, December 9 – Dallas Cowboys @ Chicago Bears – 8:40 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, December 12 – San Diego Chargers @ Denver Broncos – 8:25 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, December 15 – Cincinnati Bengals @ Pittsburgh Steelers – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

Monday, December 16 – Baltimore Ravens @ Detroit Lions – 8:40 PM ET – ESPN

Sunday, December 22 – New England Patriots @ Baltimore Ravens – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

Monday, December 23 – Atlanta Falcons @ San Francisco 49ers – 8:40 PM ET – ESPN

Sunday, December 29 – [Teams to be determined following Week 16] – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

TEAMS WITH FIVE PRIMETIME GAMES: Atlanta Falcons, Denver Broncos, New England Patriots, New York Giants, San Francisco 49ers, Washington Redskins.

TEAMS WITH FOUR PRIMETIME GAMES: Baltimore Ravens, Chicago Bears, Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, New Orleans Saints, Pittsburgh Steelers, Seattle Seahawks.

TEAMS WITH THREE PRIMETIME GAMES: Cincinnati Bengals, Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings, San Diego Chargers.

TEAMS WITH TWO PRIMETIME GAMES: Carolina Panthers, New York Jets, Philadelphia Eagles, St. Louis Rams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

TEAMS WITH ONE PRIMETIME GAME: Arizona Cardinals, Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars, Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders, Tennessee Titans.

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OBSERVATIONS: So, let me get this straight: The Baltimore Ravens win the Super Bowl, yet the runner-up gets one more primetime game in the ensuing season than the World Champions? Explain that to me.

Also, explain to me how the NFL didn’t greenlight the Denver Broncos going to Dallas on Thanksgiving Day. This was a given when the AFC opponents for the Cowboys were released at the top of the year. Or so I thought. Now, it’s going to be a chance to pass out with tryptophan in between another Packers/Lions matinee and the Ravens hosting another Thanksgiving night game, this time against the division rival Pittsburgh Steelers.

I wonder if Peyton Manning not getting a Thanksgiving date with Tony Romo was a byproduct of the Broncos actually hosting the NFL kickoff game.

Predictably, the Eagles/Chiefs game with Andy Reid bringing a new squad into Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia is an NFL Network Thursday night affair.

Predictably, that’s the Chiefs’ lone primetime game. The Jaguars’ sole primetime tilt in 2013 is also on NFLN, as was the case last year. Ditto for the Browns and the Bills, who actually play each other on an NFLN game; the Bills and the Dolphins killed two birds with one Thursday night primetime stone last season.

Thr Dolphins improve from one primetime game last year to three this year. Same with the Vikings. The Colts go from one primetime game last season to four this season. And I’ve already told you about the Redskins’ maxing out at five games, up from one last year.

Further proof NBC loves the NFC East: The Cowboys and Giants open the “Sunday Night Football” 2013 campaign. The Cowboys will appear on “SNF” three times this year, as will the Giants. Two of the Redskins’ five night contests are on NBC; two of them will air on ESPN. Eagles? Nowhere to be found on NBC’s initial schedule. Of course, the latter half of the season allows flex scheduling, so if the Eagles are actually a good team, they’ll likely see more than just the two games (down from five last year() they’ve been scheduled this year. In other words: the Cowboys/Eagles game that was not flexed out late last season might be the last time in awhile you’ll hear Al Michaels working an Eagles game.

And for the first time in recent memory, there are no Saturday games scheduled. The Bay City Rollers will now have to find alternate ways to be preoccupied this year.

RIP Earl Weaver

 

 

 

 

 

 

Longtime Orioles manager and former ABC Sports broadcaster Earl Weaver passed away at age 82.

Longtime Orioles manager and former ABC Sports broadcaster Earl Weaver passed away at age 82.

On Friday night, former Baltimore Orioles manager Earl Weaver passed away at age 82.

Toward the end of his managerial career, with whom all of eighteen seasons was spent with the O’s [specifically, he was manager between 1968-82, and again from mid-1985 until 1986], Weaver, who was inducted into the Baseball Hall Of Fame in 1996, had been a baseball analyst for ABC. Here he is with Howard Cosell and Al Michaels in the intro of a game of the 1983 World Series, which pitted the Orioles against the Philadelphia Phillies:

Weaver also worked the National League Championship Series for ABC the following year (Chicago Cubs/San Diego Padres – first NLCS in franchise history for the Pods) with Don Drysdale and Reggie Jackson. Joe Altobelli, who had replaced Weaver on the O’s bench in 1983, had been fired in May 1985; after Cal Ripken, Sr. took over on an interim basis, Weaver once again took the reins in late June of that year, effectively putting a kibosh on his brief broadcasting career.

During his reign as O’s skipper, Weaver, known for his vulgar language and confrontational style on the mound when arguing with umpires, also hosted a radio program on the local Orioles affiliate called “Manager’s Corner.” One particularly raw edition, which had actually been recorded behind the scenes and did not air live, had gone viral through the years:

And here’s Weaver in one of his final public media appearances – during the Orioles’ playoff run last season. Earl explained why he was not going to interfere with the recent incarnation of “Orioles Magic.”

Over 1 Million Viewers Watched "Sunday Night Football" On NBCSN During Obama Newtown Address

 

NBC Sports Network viewership reached seven digits during the period NBC shifted “Sunday Night Football” to the channel as President Obama spoke in Newtown, CT on December 16.

Let me preface this post by saying this: There is absolutely nothing good that could ever come out of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. There can be no benefit at all after somebody takes over two dozen innocent lives, including twenty children.

Anyway, on Sunday night, just as the San Francisco 49ers and the New England Patriots were about to kick off on “Sunday Night Football” in Foxboro, Massachusetts, some 150 miles away, President Obama was set to give a speech at a prayer vigil in Newtown for the shooting victims.

At that point, NBC directed viewers to watch the beginning of the 49ers/Patriots game on either CNBC or NBC Sports Network, while NBC carried Obama’s speech.

The fact that live sports programming aired on CNBC is nothing new – they carried Stanley Cup Playoff games earlier this year. And of course, both CNBC and NBCSN were widely-viewed outlets during this year’s London Olympics, where the channel formerly known as Versus saw some of its highest audience shares in network history.

And perhaps it was their Olympic coverage that helped engrain NBCSN – and more importantly, its channel position – into viewers’ minds, so that they would know where to go to punch up the network, especially in a locked-out season of the NHL, a league whose rights NBCSN has heavily invested in.

Numbers don’t lie: According to figures from Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand, over 2.6 million viewers were tuned into either CNBC or NBCSN for the twenty-five minute period from the beginning of the game, to about 8:55 PM ET, when President Obama punctuated his speech by reading the names of the twenty innocent boys and girls that were senselessly killed on December 14.

And while CNBC had more viewers during this period, there was only a difference of 156,000 viewers betweem the two networks: CNBC, which recently celebrated its 25th anniversary, had 1,397,000 viewers, while NBC Sports Network, currently available in around 75 million households, had 1,241,000 viewers.

That has to be a promising sign for a network that is vying to become a worthy alternative to ESPN. They overcame a slow start in the first quarter, bouncing back in the summer with the aforementioned Olympics and NHL playoff games.

And don’t forget, they also reeled in Dan Patrick’s television feed of his radio show – so with the Olympics long over, I’m willing to bet that a large portion of those 1.2 million viewers that found NBCSN were likely “Dan Patrick Show” viewers. After all, it’s the only visible daily programming that’s on the network – well, at least until Michelle Beadle begins her new show on the channel next year.

Overall, the 49ers/Patriots matchup was the second most-watched edition of “SNF” this year, trailing the season opener with the Denver Broncos and their new (old) quarterback, Peyton Manning, battling the Pittsburgh Steelers.

While the NBC broadcast network is tied up with an NFL broadcast package, I wouldn’t say that this will be the last time a live NFL game was shown on NBCSN. The league-owned NFL Network may be contemplating giving the rights to its recently expanded Thursday night football package to another network – maybe TNT, perhaps that new sports network Fox is constructing, or it might be NBC’s new sports network, which is a work in progress.

But the number of people that tuned into the network on Sunday night, who more than likely had no advanced notice of such a programming shuffle beforehand, has to be good news for NBC Sports Group.

Of course, I’m sure NBC and everyone else would have preferred that the bad news that prompted the temporary “SNF” move to NBCSN, as well as CNBC, never happened in the first place.

NBC Fires Norv Turner, Again: Chargers/Jets Flexed Out Of "Sunday Night Football"

NBC is flexing out the San Diego Chargers/New York Jets’ Week 16 game out of primetime in favor of a San Francisco 49ers/Seattle Seahawks matchup. It’s the third time in five seasons that a Sunday night game involving the Chargers was flexed out of primetime.

In just the second time in the last three years, NBC has waited until the latest possible time to exchange a previously scheduled game on “Sunday Night Football” for a more competitive one.

And in both of these instances, it’s the San Diego Chargers that end up getting burned.

They’re used to this, though.

On Monday, the NFL announced that the Chargers’ Week 16 road contest with the New York Jets on December 23 will be flexed out of primetime, with NBC opting for a divisional tilt between the San Francisco 49ers and the Seattle Seahawks. As a result, the Chargers/Jets game is jettisoned to CBS with a 1 PM (ET) start time, while a New York Giants/Baltimore Ravens game that had been scheduled for 1 PM on that day will shift to 4:25 PM, replacing 49ers/Seahawks as “America’s Game Of The Week” on that day.

With Fox protecting three consecutive Giants broadcasts this month, I’m sure Joe Buck wouldn’t want it any other way.

Sure, the Jets and Chargers both won their recent games, both on the road – but after realizing that an Arizona Cardinals defense that allowed nearly 60 points to the Seahawks had allowed just a single touchdown to the Jets the previous week – and mind you, not even to a quarterback named Sanchez or Tebow – NBC decided it would be in the best interest of America to not show the Chargers/Jets game in Week 16, a game that pits a lame-duck head coach with an all-around lame team.

There had been speculation that NBC would flex out the Chargers/Jets game as early as WFAN’s “Boomer and Carton” morning show. Co-host Craig Carton argued that with the Jets being embarrassed on Thanksgiving night by the New England Patriots, they don’t deserve any further national television exposure. (By the way, the Jets’ next game in Week 15 will be in primetime, on the road against the Tennessee Titans.)

And so, these two teams will, as The Big Lead points out, play a 1 PM game in New Jersey for the second consecutive year (the Jets won that Week 7 game, 27-21).

This will be the first and only time this year that a scheduled NBC game will be discarded back to a regional affair. Of course, there will be a final “Sunday Night Football” broadcast in Week 17, with the teams to be determined based on playoff implications stemming from the scheduled games that week, which will all be played on December 30.

The last time NBC waited as long as possible for flexing out a regularly scheduled game was in 2010, also in Week 16, with the Chargers/Bengals game fed back to CBS in favor of a Minnesota Vikings/Philadelphia Eagles game, one that would be played on the night of Tuesday, December 28, 2010, due to severe weather conditions in Philadelphia (incidentally, the Vikings’ own home stadium would be impacted by heavy snow that year, as well).

NBC also made one flex move last year in Week 13, and once again, it was an AFC/NFC tradeoff, with a Colts/Patriots contest (remember, this is the year Peyton Manning missed the entire season) switched for a Detroit Lions/New Orleans Saints matchup. As a reuslt of this arrangement, it actually sent a Denver Broncos road game in Minnesota from CBS to Fox (you may recall this was back in the thick of Tebowmania, when one Tim Tebow was playing for Denver).

With the Week 16 (2012) flex move, this means the 49ers will now have to play two back-to-back Sunday night games, and both of them on the road, as they travel to Foxboro to play the Patriots in Week 15 on NBC before proceeding to the Pacific Northwest the following week. This actually is not the first time a team was in such a position due to flex scheduling: In Week 16 of the 2007 season, the Washington Redskins’ road contest with the Vikings was flexed into primetime in lieu of a 49ers home game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers; the Redskins would also play the New York Giants in what used to be The Meadowlands the preceding week.

Speaking of the Patriots, the Chargers now join them as having been involved in the most games flexed out of primetime. A Chargers/Buccaneers game in Week 16 of the 2008 season also flexed out for a Carolina Panthers/New York Giants tilt – which put the Giants on “SNF” for two weeks in a row (they played in Dallas the previous week).

So there will be at least one previously scheduled primetime game on NBC flexed into an earlier window for the sixth year in a row, including only one game for four consecutive years. In the “SNF” debut season of 2006, in which flex scheduling was first eligible, no games were flexed at all.

If you’re keeping score at home, that’s nine games flexed out of Sunday night in a six-year span – with the Chargers making up for one-third of those games (as well as the Patriots).

Of course, there could have been two games flexed this season: they chose to keep a Philadelphia Eagles/Dallas Cowboys contest in primetime, despite their losing records coming into the game.

The San Diego Chargers and New York Jets, with their losing records? Not so much.

Fred Gaudelli Justifies Keeping Underperforming Cowboys, Eagles On "Sunday Night Football"

“Sunday Night Football” producer Fred Gaudelli defends NBC’s decision not to flex out the Eagles/Cowboys game, despite both teams’ sub-.500 records. The rivalry between the two teams factored into it, as well as the Cowboys’ vast fan base.

This is a rare week in the NFL where there is no action in the NFC East division until the final two games of the week.

And before the New York Giants square off against the Washington Redskins on Monday night, the Dallas Cowboys will host the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday night.

Yes, the Cowboys, losers of five of their last eight games, including their most recent one on Thanksgiving, and the Eagles, who haven’t won a game since Week 4.

To borrow an old NBC slogan: Must-see TV.

Or is it?

Right before Thanksgiving, NBC announced that they opted not to flex out this week’s Cowboys/Eagles game on “Sunday Night Football.” This even as the teams involved in the game aren’t necessarily having their best seasons on the field. The Cowboys are bad, but the Eagles are far worse.

One might think that keeping this game, a game with a double dog of a pair of teams, in primetime, would be like polishing dog excrement.

And so, it’s up to “Sunday Night Football” executive producer Fred Gaudelli to put some lipstick on this pig.

He appeared on Angelo Cataldi’s morning show on WIP-AM/FM in Philadelphia and explained why mass appeal still exists for a game between two teams that initially was good on paper, but as the month of December starts, there’s a good chance that either one might mail it in.

And as much as the people in Philly didn’t want to hear it, a lot of it had to do with their next opponent.

“The Dallas Cowboys are akin to the TV series ‘Dallas’,” Gaudelli argued. “There’s just drama swirling constantly, no matter what it is.”

And team owner Jerry Jones? “He’s J.R., for a fact.”

And just like the old CBS drama that starred the recently departed Larry Hagman as J.R. Ewing, viewers tune into Cowboys broadcasts in droves, due to the team’s national following across the country, as well as sports fans that thrive to see the proverbial Ewings foiled at their game.

“As many people who want to see them win,” Gaudelli admitted, “there’s probably twice as many people who want to see them lose.”

But the Cowboys aren’t the only NFC East team that’s a force to be reckoned with on “Sunday Night Football.” With this weekend’s tilt, the Cowboys will be playing their 21st Sunday night game on NBC; this is without counting the Wednesday night kickoff game this year, or the Cowboys/Eagles game played on Christmas night (a Monday) in 2006, or any playoff telecasts on Wild Card Weekend. The New York Giants have the second most appearances on Sunday night with 19; again, this is without counting NBC games played on other nights (the Giants had two midweek kickoff games) or weekend playoff games. The Philadelphia Eagles are right behind the Giants with 17 Sunday nighters on NBC; again, this figure does not count wild card playoff games, nor the aforementioned Christmas (Monday) night game, nor the “SNF” broadcast that was moved to a Tuesday night in 2010 due to inclement weather in Philadelphia. And with the exception of playoff games or a Thursday night kickoff game against the Giants, the Washington Redskins bring up the rear in NFC East representations on Sunday nights with just eight appearances – and mind you, those are all in a five-year span: After two home games on NBC in a six-week period in 2010 – and the first, unflexable half of the season, at that – the Redskins have not played on NBC over the last two regular seasons. And like the 2008 season opener, six of those eight Redskins Sunday night games were against division rivals.

In fact, during the “SNF” era, including season kickoff games, this weekend brings the grand total of regular season NFC East division matchups on NBC to 24. While the Cowboys have played the Giants on NBC six times thus far (including a span of three regular season games in five weeks), NFL schedule makers kept NBC in mind in regards to the Cowboys’ rivalry with the Eagles. With the exception of the 2008 season, at least one Cowboys/Eagles game was scheduled on NBC (in 2009, they lucked out and got two, including a playoff game in Dallas).

So it’s no surprise that NBC decided to stand pat with the Cowboys/Eagles contest scheduled on the network this year. Said Fred Gaudelli: “We think it’s still one of the best rivalries in the NFL.”

Mind you, both teams come into this game with sub-.500 records – including a streak of seven losses and counting for the Eagles.

“People associate them with winning,” Gaudelli said. “And unfortunately for them, the wheels have kinda fallen off the wagon this year.”

He thinks that a combination of the turmoil surrounding the Eagles, especially their lame duck head coach Andy Reid – who’s about five more losses away from being a gold lamé head coach – and the aforementioned “drama” that always follows the Cowboys makes for “a matchup that people would want to see… in a different kind of way.”

Despite there being a few games between teams with records above .500 (Bears/Seahawks, Packers/Vikings, Broncos/Buccaneers, as well as Ravens/Steelers, who were just on NBC’s air earlier this month) that might better pique viewers’ interest – and ironically, it was a Bears/Seahawks game in Week 11 of 2007 that was the first-ever game to be flexed out of primetime – NBC decided that a game between two teams with a combined total of eight wins would have “the most national interest, even though (it was) not for the reasons we would have thought… back in April.”

Granted, there are three games this weekend which pits teams that have a lower amount of combined wins against each other – but Oakland vs. Cleveland or Buffalo vs. Jacksonville just doesn’t have the same ring to it as Dallas vs. Philadelphia.

Of course, if on this week, NBC was scheduled to air, say, Dallas vs. Oakland, there’s a possibility it would have been played earlier in the day, as opposed to under the lights, and in primetime.

As Gaudelli explained, if the Cowboys were facing “a team with a lesser pedigree, we’d probably move out of the game, but we didn’t think there was good enough reason to [use flex scheduling].”

This isn’t the first time Gaudelli, approaching a quarter-century of producing NFL broadcasts, including “Monday Night Football,” as well as games on the previous home of Sunday night football, ESPN, has sung the praises of the “ratings punch” that the Cowboys can provide. “John Madden used to have a saying, ‘When in doubt, the Cowboys’,” he said in 2010. “I think that still holds true.”

This year, “Sunday Night Football” has consistently finished each week as one of the top-rated, if not the top-rated, shows watched. The Week 3 Patriots/Ravens game outranked the annual Emmy Awards broadcast, and the Week 8 telecast of a Saints/Broncos tilt got a better rating than the final game of this year’s World Series.

Now, this doesn’t necessarily prove that the NFL can plunk a Kansas City Chiefs/New York Jets game on Sunday night and expect ratings magic. But if NBC gets an equally sizable viewership for this week’s Cowboys/Eagles game, despite the fact that both teams may likely miss the playoffs, it’s a testament not just to both teams’ national fan bases (moreso the Cowboys) but to the network’s decision making when it comes to flex scheduling. It’s not to say that upper echelon teams are immune to flex scheduling: believe it or not, the New England Patriots have had the most games (three) flexed out of “SNF”, mostly due to the underperformance of the opponent over the course of the season (e.g. last year’s Patriots/Colts matchup, which really lacked its juice with Peyton Manning being inactive) – and one of those games were in 2008, the year Tom Brady missed virtually the entire season; so yes, this had a little to do with the Patriots, as well.

The Cowboys’ star running back, Demarco Murray, could return after missing several weeks; while they’ve seen many defensive players land on injured reserve. On the other side of the field, the Eagles – well, they’re a mess: Michael Vick and LeSean McCoy have been ruled out, and DeSean Jackson was just added to the “I.R.” this week.

Obviously, Nick Foles, Bryce Brown and Jason Avant aren’t household names.

And this Sunday night, they’ll all have mere walk-on roles in a brand-new episode of “Dallas” on NBC.

With Jerry Jones as J.R. Ewing.

Of course, it’s a little too late now to find out if J.R. Ewing the owner would fire J.R. Ewing the general manager.

Regional Roundup: NFL Week 12 Thanksgiving Special

The last time NBC aired an NFL game on Thanksgiving, the Tennessee Oilers defeated the Dallas Cowboys in 1997. The NFL returns to NBC on Turkey Day, as the Jets host the division rival Patriots.

Here it is, a bit earlier than usual this week, and you can understand why: Three big games on the Thanksgiving menu, including, for the first time in sixteen years, on NBC. The usual regionals are upcoming, but given the holiday and the circumstances surrounding this setup, I’m including the Turkey Day games, as well as recognizing NBC, in this special edition only.

For the longest time, there had been only two annual NFL games on Thanksgiving Day: in Detroit in the early afternoon, and in Dallas in the late afternoon. Then when NFL Network started their “Thursday Night Football” package, which initially called for eight games per season (including a Saturday night game here and there), it included a Thanksgiving night game (which was also available on local broadcast stations in the markets involved with the game).

Then this year, on the weekend of the Super Bowl, the league announced that not only would NFLN’s annual tally of games expand from eight to thirteen, but in exchange for the extra games, the Thanksgiving night game would go to NBC.

So in 2012, a new tradition begins, with NBC worked into the Turkey Day NFL mix. The last time the Peacock Network aired a game on Thanksgiving Day, it was in the final year of their AFC contract. In fact, it’s been so long that the team that beat the Cowboys in that game in 1997, the Tennessee Oilers, now go by a new name (Titans). Ironically, the NFL franchise previously known as the Titans will be hosting the first Thanksgiving game on NBC in quite some time.

Here’s some Turkey Day NFL trivia for you: Did you know that, for two years out of the 52 seasons and counting that the NFL Thanksgiving doubleheader was established, the Cowboys did not host the late game? That’s right: there appeared to be a consensus that the team hosting a regular season game in the middle of the week gave them somewhat of an unfair advantage over other teams. The group with the biggest grievance was the St. Louis Cardinals – which at the time, were in the NFC East with the Cowboys. (They’ve since flown west to Phoenix in 1988, and eventually to the NFC West in 2002.) So the NFL awarded the St. Louis football Cardinals the late Thanksgiving game on odd years, starting in 1975. However, this plan ended in 1977 because CBS had their own grievance: there was not as much viewer interest in Cardinals Thanksgiving games than in Cowboys Thanksgiving games. What’s more, it would prove to be a chore to sell out the Thanksgiving games in St. Louis, as there was a high school football game in the area that was apparently of more interest. But there’s no record of the two Cards games not selling out, thus no record of local blackouts of the games in the St. Louis area.

So as far as I know, there has never been a local home team blackout for any Thanksgiving Classic games. Not even the Lions during their struggling years experienced a blackout on Thanksgiving Day – even the year that they compiled an 0-16 record. And even though word on the street was that the Jets had unsold tickets for their previous night game this season against the Texans – who will also be in action on Thursday for the first Thanksgiving game in the team’s eleven-year history – it’s a safe bet that the Jets’ second home game on Thanksgiving night in three years is sold out.

By the way, one more footnote on the Cardinals before we get started: Did you know that they’ve been involved in six Thanksgiving games since the AFL/NFL merger, and they’re 0-6 in those games? They were the St. Louis Cardinals for five of those games, and were involved in games for three consecutive years, including the two home games back in the mid-’70’s (yep, the Cowboys hosted the other). They also visited the Cowboys in 1983 and 1985, and lost each game by an identical score of 35-17. And in their most recent Turkey Day game in 2008, the Arizona Cardinals were eaten alive by the Philadelphia Eagles, 48-20. The Eagles, by the way, are undefeated (2-0) in Thanksgiving games played since the merger. At least the current Eagles team can take solace in that, when they host a Monday night matchup against the Carolina Panthers this week.

Here we go.

THANKSGIVING

The Detroit Lions start the day’s festivities, just as they have been for every year since 1945. They host the AFC South-leading Houston Texans, and that means it’s a CBS game, and the network’s A-team of Jim Nantz and Phil Simms will be at Ford Field for this game. It’ll be the third matchup between the two teams; each of their previous two tilts was won by the home team, most recently the Texans in 2008. So the Lions have that going for them against the high-powered Texans offense. The Dallas Cowboys follow with their 35th consecutive Thanksgiving Day game since the sacrifice of the Cardinals, and it’ll be against the division rival Washington Redskins, and Joe Buck and Troy Aikman will work that one. Here’s another weird stat for you: Since a pre-merger matchup in 1968, the Redskins are 0-6 against the Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day (though they did play the Lions back in 1972 and shut them out, 20-0). And the nightcap on NBC will be another divisional contest, as the New York Jets host the New England Patriots, who currently lead the AFC East. NBC’s crew of Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth and Michele Tafoya are assigned to this game. Since the merger, the Jets are 0-3 on Thanksgiving as the road team, but at home, they’re 1-0 – so far, anyway.

A foreword before the Sunday games: Of the three aforementioned announcing crews, we won’t hear from Nantz and Simms again until next week. Iron man Joe Buck and his sidekick Troy Aikman will return this Sunday on Fox (more on that later) and Al, Cris and Michele will also work NBC’s regularly scheduled Sunday night broadcast, which has the Green Bay Packers visiting the New York Giants. Fox has the Sunday doubleheader this week, by the way; not sure if that factors into Nantz/Simms getting a day of rest this Sunday or not.

EARLY GAMES

CBS: But if Nantz and Simms were working a second game on this long holiday weekend, this probably would be the one: it involves the Denver Broncos, who travel to Kansas City to play the 1-9 Chiefs. On second thought, perhaps the carnage might be too much for Jim and Phil, so this sounds like a job for Greg Gumbel and Dan Dierdorf. There are a couple of other divisional tilts in CBS’ early game window: the Jacksonville Jaguars, coming off a double overtime loss to the Texans, host the Tennessee Titans, with Spero Dedes and Steve Beuerlein interpreting the game action. And the Pittsburgh Steelers, sans Ben Roethlisberger, take on the Cleveland Browns, sans a reasonable offense; Kevin Harlan and Solomon Wilcots will call this game from Cleveland. In fact, there will be two NFL games being played simultaneously in Ohio, as Bill Macatee and Steve Tasker will call the Cincinnati Bengals/Oakland Raiders contest. And the great Marv Albert once again teams up with Rich Gannon for what should be an exciting game in the rookie season of Andrew Luck – I say “should be an exciting game” but the Indianapolis Colts are hosting the Buffalo Bills this week.

FOX: A majority of the country will see Kenny Albert, Daryl “Moose” Johnston and Tony Siragusa work an NFC North showdown between the Minnesota Vikings and the Chicago Bears. And just like the Ohio deal, there will be three NFL games at the same time in the state of Florida: in addition to the aforementioned Jaguars game in Jacksonville, the Miami Dolphins host the Seattle Seahawks, in a game that will be called by Chris Myers and Tim Ryan. You may recall Myers’ snafu last week in which he declared a Panthers victory as a Tampa Bay Buccaneers decisive touchdown was scored in overtime. Which brings us to the other game in the Sunshine State, which is yet another divisional tilt. Yet, despite a heroic effort last week, I heard on Wednesday that there are still “thousands” of tickets available for the Bucs’ next home game against the Atlanta Falcons. The Bucs’ first and only sellout at Raymond James Stadium to date has been against another NFC South foe, the New Orleans Saints. If the team rises to second place in the division and they’re still not putting behinds in the seats, then Tampa Bay just doesn’t deserve an NFL team. It’s as simple as that. Despite the holiday, the sellout deadline remains as Thursday; I’ll update this post accordingly when time permits. By the way, Thom Brennaman and Brian Billick will call this game from Tampa. (UPDATE: It will actually be Charles Davis working with Brennaman.)

LATE GAMES

CBS: The lone late contest in CBS’ late game window, the San Diego Chargers’ hosting of the Baltimore Ravens, is also in danger of being blacked out locally. For those that will be able to watch this game, you’ll hear Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts describe the game action. (Surprisingly, I’ve heard nothing blackout-related as far as the Raiders/Bengals game is concerned.)

FOX: As I previously mentioned, Buck and Aikman will be back in the catbird seats on three days rest, in the Big Easy, as the resurgent New Orleans Saints play the San Francisco 49ers. Finally, you knew I was bringing up all of those details about the St. Louis football Cardinals for a reason. Of course, on Thanksgiving weekend, the NFL is going to schedule the Arizona Cardinals vs. the St. Louis Rams – or the team representing the city the Cardinals once resided, where they became etched in Thanksgiving Classic lore. This far-from-a-Thanksgiving-classic (will it end in a tie?) will be worked by Dick Stockton and John Lynch.

UPDATE: As of Friday, November 23, Cincinnati, San Diego and Tampa Bay will not be able to watch their local teams this weekend.

Information from the506.com was used in this post.

2012 NFL Schedule: The Primetime Games: Bears, Broncos, Chargers, Eagles, 49ers, Giants, Packers, Steelers Have Five Games Each

Mark your calendars: Here's the complete listing of primetime games scheduled for the 2012 NFL season.

Here is the list of all of the primetime games scheduled for the 2012 NFL season. Commentary to follow…

Wednesday, September 5 – Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants – 8:20 PM ET – NBC

Sunday, September 9 – Pittsburgh Steelers at Denver Broncos – 8:20 PM ET – NBC

Monday, September 10 – Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens – 7 PM ET – ESPN

Monday, September 10 – San Diego Chargers at Oakland Raiders – 10:15 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, September 13 – Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers – 8:20 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, September 16 – Detroit Lions at San Francisco 49ers – 8:20 PM ET – NBC

Monday, September 17 – Denver Broncos at Atlanta Falcons – 8:30 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, September 20 – New York Giants at Carolina Panthers – 8:20 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, September 23 – New England Patriots at Baltimore Ravens – 8:20 PM ET – NBC

Monday, September 24 – Green Bay Packers at Seattle Seahawks – 8:30 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, September 27 – Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens – 8:20 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, September 30 – New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles – 8:20 PM ET – NBC

Monday, October 1 – Chicago Bears at Dallas Cowboys – 8:30 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, October 4 – Arizona Cardinals at St. Louis Rams – 8:20 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, October 7 – San Diego Chargers at New Orleans Saints – 8:20 PM ET – NBC

Monday, October 8 – Houston Texans at New York Jets – 8:30 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, October 11 – Pittsburgh Steelers at Tennessee Titans – 8:20 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, October 14 – Green Bay Packers at Houston Texans – 8:20 PM ET – NBC

Monday, October 15 – Denver Broncos at San Diego Chargers – 8:30 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, October 18 – Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers – 8:20 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, October 21 – Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals – 8:20 PM ET – NBC

Monday, October 22 – Detroit Lions at Chicago Bears – 8:30 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, October 25 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Minnesota Vikings – 8:20 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, October 28 – New Orleans Saints at Denver Broncos – 8:20 PM ET – NBC

Monday, October 29 – San Francisco 49ers at Arizona Cardinals – 8:30 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, November 1 – Kansas City Chiefs at San Diego Chargers – 8:20 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, November 4 – Dallas Cowboys at Atlanta Falcons – 8:20 PM ET – NBC

Monday, November 5 – Philadelphia Eagles at New Orleans Saints – 8:30 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, November 8 – Indianapolis Colts at Jacksonville Jaguars – 8:20 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, November 11 – Houston Texans at Chicago Bears – 8:20 PM ET – NBC

Monday, November 12 – Kansas City Chiefs at Pittsburgh Steelers – 8:30 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, November 15 – Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills – 8:20 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, November 18 – Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers – 8:20 PM ET – NBC

Monday, November 19 – Chicago Bears at San Francisco 49ers – 8:30 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, November 22 (Thanksgiving) – New England Patriots at New York Jets – 8:20 PM ET – NBC

Sunday, November 25 – Green Bay Packers at New York Giants – 8:20 PM ET – NBC

Monday, November 26 – Carolina Panthers at Philadelphia Eagles – 8:30 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, November 29 – New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons – 8:20 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, December 2 – Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys – 8:20 PM ET – NBC

Monday, December 3 – New York Giants at Washington Redskins – 8:30 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, December 6 – Denver Broncos at Oakland Raiders – 8:20 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, December 9 – Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers – 8:20 PM ET – NBC

Monday, December 10 – Houston Texans at New England Patriots – 8:30 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, December 13 – Cincinnati Bengals at Philadelphia Eagles – 8:20 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, December 16 – San Francisco 49ers at New England Patriots – 8:20 PM ET – NBC

Monday, December 17 – New York Jets at Tennessee Titans – 8:30 PM ET – ESPN

Saturday, December 22 – Atlanta Falcons at Detroit Lions – 8:30 PM ET – ESPN

Sunday, December 23 – San Diego Chargers at New York Jets – 8:20 PM ET – NBC

Sunday, December 30 – [Teams to be determined following Week 16] – 8:20 PM ET – NBC

TEAMS WITH FIVE PRIMETIME GAMES: Chicago Bears, Denver Broncos, San Diego Chargers, Philadelphia Eagles, San Francisco 49ers, New York Giants, Green Bay Packers, Pittsburgh Steelers.

TEAMS WITH FOUR PRIMETIME GAMES: Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, Dallas Cowboys, Detroit Lions, Houston Texans, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, New York Jets.

TEAMS WITH THREE PRIMETIME GAMES: Cincinnati Bengals.

TEAMS WITH TWO PRIMETIME GAMES: Arizona Cardinals, Carolina Panthers, Kansas City Chiefs,  Oakland Raiders, Seattle Seahawks, Tennessee Titans.

TEAMS WITH ONE PRIMETIME GAME: Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings, St. Louis Rams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Washington Redskins.

———————————————————————————————————————-

Well, I guess I came up a bit short with my predictions of six primetime games for the Jets and the Cowboys. As it turns out, they didn’t even get five primetime games.

But what shocks me the most is the fact that one of the Jets’ primetime games is not against the Jaguars. It’s currently scheduled for Sunday, December 9 at 1 PM ET on CBS – but there’s a good possibility that it could be flexed to Sunday night. You’ve got to give the NFL credit for scheduling it this late in the season: not because it could be flexed to NBC if need be, but as it even says right on the NFL.com splash page for the 2012 Jaguars schedule, “Tebow could be the Jets’ starting quarterback” by then!

The Jaguars will get one primetime game (at least I got that prediction right) – but it’ll be against the Colts, who will also play their lone primetime game in Jacksonville. Dolphins/Bills and Buccaneers/Vikings are two other primetime matchups that pretty much uphold the “at least one primetime game for each team, guaranteed” quota.

Also, I was generally right about the Broncos, with Peyton Manning under center for the first time, opening the season on “Sunday Night Football.” I wrote yesterday that the Steelers and Texans matchups were ripe for primetime, and while I personally hoped the Broncos would open against the Texans, for reasons I previously explained (for the record, they’ll meet in Week 3), it looks like the Steelers will indeed square off against Peyton and his new crew at Mile High.

Speaking of the Broncos, another strong prediction of mine was that the Broncos’ matchup with the Patriots would be scheduled for Thanksgiving night on NBC. I was half-right: the Patriots will be in the mix, but instead, it’ll be against the division rival New York Jets, and Gang Green’s first Thanksgiving game since they hosted Cincinnati just a few years ago.

As for that Patriots/Broncos game… yes, it’ll be on CBS, and so early in the season (Week 5) that it certainly wouldn’t be flexed into “Sunday Night Football.” I wonder if Robert Kraft had a hand in this decision, too?

Oh, those Broncos… I wrote yesterday that I was waffling between four and five primetime games, and since they actually got five, I’ll claim that as another accurate prediction. I’m actually surprised that teams like the Bears and the Chargers got five games. Both of these teams missed the playoffs last year. You figured the Eagles – who really missed the playoffs badly last year – would get their customary five primetime games, no matter what. But the Chargers? Who were thisclose to firing their head coach and general manager? If that went down, we would probably be talking about how the Chargers got two primetime games or less.

And yes, based on comments posted on my previous post, I am aware that teams traditionally get five primetime games at most when the schedule is first released, with a sixth coming by way of Sunday night “flexing” (which is how the Cowboys accomplished that feat last year). My point was, rules were made to be updated. You can bet the maximum number of primetime games will be altered somewhere down the road. How soon, I’m not sure. But with more primetime games being schedule, comes more opportunities to play in primetime. Let’s face it: Would you rather watch the Bears or the Browns? (And for the record, I don’t know if he was joking or not, but Andrew Siciliano, within the hour before the schedule being released, said on “Total Access” during an item on the Broncos that he believed they’d “max out with six primetime games”. Maybe he expects the maximum to be updated, too.)

Of the eight teams with five primetime appearances, three of these teams (Giants, Packers, Steelers) appear three times on “Sunday Night Football”; this includes the Wednesday, September 5 season opener against the Cowboys, who will also make three NBC appearances, as will the Patriots (this includes Thanksgiving). Of course, these are all subject to change, thanks to “flex scheduling”. Also, the Bears will appear three times on “Monday Night Football”, with the 49ers, Broncos, Chargers and Eagles each appearing twice on “MNF,” as will the Jets, Falcons, Lions and Texans – accounting for half of their four primetime appearances in 2012. And every team appears on NFL Network just once. (Of course, NFLN games are simulcast on local broadcast outlets in the cities of the teams playing.)

And there is one lone Saturday night game: it’ll be on ESPN on December 22. This explains why there is no Monday night game on Christmas Eve. Funny, the NFL had no problem playing games on Christmas in recent years. Heck, they played fourteen games on Christmas Eve last year.

All that being written… just 141 days left until all of these games are finally played for your viewing (and gambling, if you prefer) enjoyment.

Game(s) on!