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.

Denver Broncos All But Guaranteed Thanksgiving 2013 Game

Based on the release of the opponents of the NFL teams for the 2013-14 season, it’s safe to assume that Peyton Manning will be playing his second Thanksgiving game in nine years, as the Denver Broncos are one of two AFC teams scheduled to visit the Dallas Cowboys.

With the end of the 2012-13 regular season comes the precursor to the release of the 2013-14 NFL schedule: the announcements of the opponents that all 32 teams will be facing, based on the strengths of their schedules the previous season.

I realize that Wild Card Weekend hasn’t even started yet, and I’m probably going to draw dirty looks for my looking ahead to the middle of next season, when the schedule hasn’t even been released yet (and likely will not be for about fifteen weeks or so – not that I’m counting down the days or anything). But I can’t help but make speculations prior to the release of the schedule, usually those that make sense.

So once I saw the AFC opponents that the Dallas Cowboys will be hosting next year, and realizing that the Cowboys’ Thanksgiving Classic will air on CBS (the AFC network) next year, I have but one thing to say: No way in Alameda is the NFL going to opt for the Oakland Raiders to visit the Cowboys next Turkey Day, when given the choice between the Raiders and the Denver Broncos.

When you have a choice between scheduling either the Denver Broncos, who ended the 2012 regular season – first one with Peyton Manning under center – with an unprecedented eleven-game winning streak, which not only granted them their current first-round bye in the 2012-13 playoffs which get underway on Saturday, but clinched homefield advantage for the team throughout said playoffs, and the Oakland Raiders, who just fired a quartet of coaches, including their offensive coordinator, and have not won a game on Thanksgiving since they hosted one 45 years ago in the old AFL era, the decision is so easy, even Leon Lett could make it.

The last (and only) time Manning was on the Turkey Day stage, he picked apart the Lions, throwing a half-dozen touchdowns, part of a 2004 season which saw him set a new record for most touchdowns thrown in a season (eclipsed by Tom Brady during the Patriots’ near-perfect season three years later). Manning came one touchdown shy of tying (and possibly breaking) a record seven touchdown tosses in a game, shared by five other quarterbacks, most recently Joe Kapp in 1969.

The Raiders – do we even know who their starting quarterback is going to be in November, let alone in April when the 2013 NFL schedule is released?

It’s a no-brainer: the Denver Broncos will be playing the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day 2013.

And can you imagine if the Cowboys really came out on the short end of the stick (as if losing six of their last seven elimination games at the delinquent hands of Tony Romo wasn’t enough) and drew the other two teams from the AFC West division, the San Diego Chargers and the Kansas City Chiefs, both of whom bid adieu to their own head coaches, and then some, back on Black Monday? CBS would be better off reverting back to the 70’s and airing a Cardinals game (and Arizona has axed a bunch of people this week, as well).

While I’m at it, I’ll also provide some mild speculation on which NFC opponent will face the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving Day 2013 on Fox. Any one of the Lions’ division rivals (Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings) could easily be penciled in for a showdown at Ford Field on November 28. Then again, the Lions will also be playing the teams in the NFC East in 2013 – and one of the two teams in that division that will be traveling to Detroit is the New York Giants, who despite their inability to defend their recent Super Bowl title after sliding out of playoff contention, will still draw marquee games. As we know, Fox’s marquee NFL games are called by Joe Buck. As we also know, Buck has worked more than his share of Giants games. So with all that said, the Lions hosting their (turkey) leg of the 2013 Thanksgiving Day Classic with the New York Giants, who had not won on Thanksgiving since beating the Lions back in 1982 – when Eli Manning was 22 months old – is my early projection.

The other NFC East team scheduled to play the Lions in Ford Field: the Dallas Cowboys. The only way a date between these two teams on Turkey Day would happen is if the Cowboys did indeed end up getting the Chargers and Chiefs at home this season.

For the record, the sixth NFC team slated to visit Detroit is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but based on their 28-point drubbing by the Cowboys on Turkey Day 2006, I doubt they’ll be considered for Thanksgiving plans for the next 28 years.

As for which teams will be playing Thanksgiving night on NBC next year, the jury is truly out. We’re going from a probability factor of two to six to about 220 here. But believe it or not, one team that could be featured here is – call me crazy – the Denver Broncos.

If you’ve been paying attention, I have written about the possibility of both Peyton Manning and Eli Manning both playing on Thanksgiving Day in 2013. But guess what: the Broncos’ opponents for 2013 have been released, and some of the matchups make Peyton Manning vs. Tony Romo look like Mark Sanchez vs. Brandon Moore’s posterior: you have Denver scheduled to face the Indianapolis Colts, the team that drafted Peyton Manning; the New England Patriots, whose quarterback is Manning rival Tom Brady; and the New York Giants – nuff said.

We remember the Harbaugh Brothers Bowl from a couple of Thanksgivings ago (49ers/Ravens, the last Turkey Day game to be broadcast by NFL Network). So it’s only natural to think that a game with similar family ties like the Manning brothers going at it again would get such billing on Thanksgiving night again. But here’s the problem: it would mean the Oakland Raiders playing the Dallas Cowboys earlier that day. It just can’t happen.

Granted, when the Denver Broncos do play the New York Giants in 2013, it’s a virtual lock to be on NBC: both previous Manning Bowls (the Giants vs. Peyton’s former team, the Colts) in 2006 and 2010 were broadcast on NBC. So this Broncos/Giants tilt is more than likely going to air on NBC, as well – just not on Thanksgiving. It’ll probably be played in September, perhaps the opening game of the season on “Sunday Night Football.” And remember, the game is in Jersey, so if the Broncos win Super Bowl XLVII, it can’t be the “kickoff” game, since it would have to be played in Denver.

In the end, I would think that the game that ends up being scheduled in primetime next Thanksgiving would likely involve at least one AFC team. Not just because two NFC teams host games every year, either: since the night game was added in 2006, only one game was an all-NFC affair: the Arizona Cardinals at the Philadelphia Eagles in 2008. Incidentally, both of those teams are in the process of cleaning house – and are also scheduled to play each other in 2013. And word on the street is that former Eagles coach Andy Reid could become the new head coach in Arizona. And if former Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt ended up in Philadelphia? Could that be the Thanksgiving 2013 nightcap?

It couldn’t be worse than the “buttfumble” game last Thanksgiving night.

Or Raiders vs. Cowboys.

Yawn.

Tryptophan, please.

Audio: Cowboys Radio Announcer Calls Saints Player "Ka-Douche"

Dallas Cowboys radio announcer Brad Sham mispronounced New Orleans Saints safety Isa Abdul-Quddus’ last name, so it sounded like the word “douche.”

One of the rules in Sports Announcing 101 is to be certain of the pronunciations of the names of the players involved in the game that will be called. Because if you err on just one letter, it could make a big difference.

Brad Sham, who’s been working Dallas Cowboys radio broadcasts for close to three decades, should know better.

During Sunday’s radio broadcast of the Cowboys’ overtime loss to the New Orleans Saints, at one point, a rushing attempt by running back DeMarco Murray was stopped by two Saints defensive players, including safety Isa Abdul-Quddus – pronounced “ka-DEUCE.”

Except when Sham pronounces the player’s name, he adds an extra letter at the end of it – which makes the second syllable of his name sound like the word “douche.”

After the mispronunciation, Sham admitted, “I just like to say” his name.

Added color analyst Babe Laufenberg: “I love it”.

While the player was undrafted and is only in his second year in the league, it’s not like Isa Abdul-Quddus isn’t necessarily a household name. When he laid out a Giants player on “Monday Night Football” in his rookie season last year, Mike Tirico had no problem pronouncing his name.

And just over a week ago, Abdul-Quddus appeared on the “Nick And Artie” radio show. Even if Artie Lange was in a drunken stupor, he would probably do a better job pronouncing Abdul-Quddus’ name than Brad Sham did on Sunday.

The irony is that Isa Abdul-Quddus attended Fordham University, a college responsible for the education of many renowned sports broadcasters like Vin Scully, Mike Breen, Bob Papa and Michael Kay.

Safe to say if Brad Sham went to Fordham, he’d get a failing grade.

Cowboys/Redskins An Early Favorite For "Sunday Night Football" In Week 17 (Update: It's Official)

The rematch of Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins’ Thanksgiving Day victory over the Dallas Cowboys in Week 17 could be flexed into primetime on NBC. It would be the second straight year that an NFC East showdown in the final week of the regular season would be rescheduled to “Sunday Night Football.”

It’s hard to believe just two more weeks of the NFL regular season remain.

And that means we draw ever closer to the inevitable – okay, besides going to the mall to return that unwanted sweater you got for Christmas. Week 17, which for the third season in a row under Commissioner Roger Goodell, will consist entirely of matchups between division rivals – with the one possessing the greatest impact on the playoff picture being flexed into primetime on NBC’s “Sunday Night Football.” In Week 17 in 2010, the Seattle Seahawks defeated the St. Louis Rams, and in the final week of the regular season last year, the New York Giants eliminated the Dallas Cowboys; both of these teams would win subsequent playoff games televised on NBC (the Seahawks in the Wild Card round, and the Giants in Super Bowl XLVI).

The divisions represented by these teams have a great shot at making their second appearance on “SNF” in Week 17 under the new format.

First, let’s eliminate the divisions where the leaders are so far ahead, it should not make much of a difference what they do in Week 17: AFC East (New England Patriots); AFC South (Houston Texans); AFC West (Denver Broncos); and NFC South (New Orleans Saints).

True, a first-round playoff bye may be on the line between the Patriots, Texans and Broncos, but consider this: the Patriots are hosting the Miami Dolphins, and they’ve been so dominant at home in primetime, and in primetime in general this season (need we remind you what they did in New Jersey on Thanksgiving night?) that the chances of the game being out of reach early are high. Also, the Texans hosted the Indianapolis Colts today for what will be a home-and-home over a 15-day period, and had the Colts upset the Texans in Houston, the Week 17 rematch might have been a shoo-in for primetime, but the Texans win pretty much puts a cushion betweem the two teams; of course, if the Colts find themselves in a “win and you’re in” scenario, it’s still possible that Andrew Luck might bring the Colts back to “SNF” for the first time in the post-Peyton Manning era. And as for Manning’s current team, the Broncos, well, they’re playing the Kansas City Chiefs, who are not only execrable this season, but are 0-3 on NBC in the Fred Gaudelli era. Nuff said.

The NFC North also appears to be all but conquered by the Green Bay Packers, but the team they face in Week 17 is the Minnesota Vikings – a team that’s nipping at the Packers’ heels in the division, and has a running back in Adrian Peterson who’s on pace to break Eric Dickerson’s single-season rushing record of 2,105 yards, and he needs just shy of 300 yards in two games to do it. But the Vikings’ next opponent, the Houston Texans, has a stingy run defense, so it’s too soon to determine what happens with the Packers/Vikings game until Peterson plays another sixty minutes. Remember, the league reconfigured the Week 17 Sunday night game to feature teams that are playing a game that will essentially name the winner of that division. Of course, when given the choice between watching a dynamic athlete break a record that has stood for nearly three decades, or a Rams/Seahawks game, I think the answer is easy. So based on the potential of history being made, with one of the biggest names in the game, I wouldn’t rule this one out yet, even if the Packers have long clinched the NFC North. Stay tuned.

So, we’re down to three divisions, and we’ll start with the AFC North. You have the Pittsburgh Steelers, who have made the fifth-most appearances on NBC since 2006 with fifteen, hosting the Cleveland Browns, and you have the Cincinnati Bengals hosting the Baltimore Ravens, who have won six out of their nine appearances on NBC’s air. By the way, since 2006, Ohio has been 0-for-6 on NBC, including five Bengals games, two of them in the postseason. Realizing the Bengals’ dubious record on NBC, coupled with their penchant for having games blacked out due to low ticket sales, plus add to the mix the fact that they’re hosting the Ravens, who have abruptly switched offensive coordinators and have already lost their first game under their new one, the prospect of putting that game in primetime probably isn’t making the league and NBC suits’ mouths water. Nor is the possibility of a Steelers team playing the cellar-dwelling Browns. So in my view, you won’t be seeing the Steelers make their fourth “SNF” appearance of the season, nor a Ravens trifecta on NBC this year. But as always, I could be wrong.

Anyway, that leaves two divisions in the NFC where the top spot is up for grabs. First, the NFC West situation: the San Francisco 49ers and the Seattle Seahawks are fighting for first place. But keep in mind that the 49ers will be playing two Sunday night games in a row, including one that’s been flexed into primetime in Week 16 – and that game is in Seattle. Fast forward to Week 17, and you’ve got the Seahawks hosting the Rams, and the 49ers hosting the Cardinals. Given how bad the Cardinals have been since October (oh, they beat the Lions by four touchdowns after losing by nearly sixty points the previous week – big whoop), you can count out the latter matchup, and the possibility of a team appearing on “SNF” for three consecutive weeks. Which means that for the second time in three weeks, a Rams/Seahawks game in Seattle in Week 17 could be moved into primetime. The Rams, despite being a shade under .500, are amazingly undefeated (4-0-1) against opponents in the division. The Seahawks, meanwhile, are undefeated at home, and depending on how the 49ers fare in Centurylink Field on “SNF” in Week 16, the NFC West division may as well be decided in primetime that week.

And that leaves the NFC East, a division where three out of its four teams have made the most appearances on NBC since 2006 – most recently a matchup between two teams both under .500, the Philadelphia Eagles and the Dallas Cowboys. In Week 17, both of these teams will be on the road: the Eagles at the New York Giants, and the Cowboys at the Washington Redskins. This division is literally a three-team race going down the stretch, but only one thing matters: the RG3 factor. Robert Griffin III is having an outstanding rookie campaign – yet he only has one primetime game to show for it (in Week 13 vs. the Giants on “Monday Night Football” on ESPN). Of course, there was the game on Thanksgiving Day that gave Griffin his first national exposure – in Jerry World, a game in which he led the Redskins to four touchdowns in the first half.

The Redskins, 2-0 in these games, currently share a lead in the NFC East. The Cowboys, well, they haven’t made the most appearances on “Sunday Night Football” for nothing (the Eagles/Cowboys tilt back in Week 13 was their twenty-first).

Regardless of the results of the Week 16 games between the Giants and the Ravens, the Cowboys and the Saints, and the Eagles and the Redskins, I am confident that the Cowboys/Redskins rematch in Week 17 will be flexed into primetime.

An equation of “America’s Team” and RG3 (provided he’s healthy) with the division on the line adds up to an enticing matchup.

So if you’re going to that game on December 30, I’d reschedule my plans for that evening if I were you.

UPDATE, 12.18.12: WIP Radio in Philadelphia reported today that the Cowboys/Redskins game on December 30 has been moved to a start time of… 4:25 PM. There’s nothing to back this up, I was just going by what I heard on the radio. Halfway to primetime. But it’s still a candidate to be moved to “Sunday Night Football”: based on how teams with their own playoff implications on the line perform in Week 16, the league will obviously move a game with “win or go home” potential into primetime. Or if the NFC East, NFC West and AFC North are suddenly all decided, and Adrian Peterson runs for over 150 yards against the Texans, the Vikings’ (regular?) season finale against the Packers could see itself being moved to NBC, as I speculated earlier – but of course, that’s a huge longshot as long as the NFC East, at the very least, has not been decided by Christmas.

So the Cowboys/Redskins game won’t be starting at 1 PM. That much, I was right about. And now the NFL is delaying the inevitable – which, by the way, will officially be announced on Monday.

UPDATE, 12.23.12, 11:39 PM ET: And now, it’s official: With the Redskins winning and the Cowboys and Giants losing, the rematch between the Redskins and the Cowboys in Week 17 will, as projected, be flexed into Sunday night on NBC. The news was announced during the Week 16 presentation of “Sunday Night Football.” This will be the first time since Week 7 in 2010 that the Redskins were featured on “Sunday Night Football.” Since that matchup with the Colts, there have been fifteen games on NBC (sixteen if you count the Super Bowl) in which there was at least one NFC East team – eight of them games between two NFC East teams. So it’s safe to say the Redskins are long overdue.

Cowboys Player Dead Following Intoxication Manslaughter, Bob Costas Instantly Mocked On Twitter

With an NFL player involved in a tragedy for the second straight weekend – this time, a Cowboys practice squad player killed by teammate Josh Brent by way of intoxication manslaughter – many are expecting Bob Costas to propose prohibition during halftime of “Sunday Night Football” this week.

It’s the second Saturday in a row where a tragedy involving an NFL player rears its ugly head.

Last week, Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher murdered his girlfriend, in front of his own mother, before making what would be his final trip to Arrowhead Stadium, where he would turn a gun on himself, in front of Chiefs head coach Romeo Crennel and general manager Scott Pioli.

Some broadcast outlets, particularly those that have NFL rights, treated the story with justice on their air the Sunday after.

One of them, NBC, decided to let Bob Costas get on his soapbox during halftime of the Sunday night matchup between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Dallas Cowboys to talk about gun control in the wake of the Belcher incident.

And now, on the ensuing Saturday comes another devastating report from the city where Bob Costas was just this past weekend.

Cowboys defensive rackle Josh Brent was being held in an Irving, Texas jail on charges of intoxication manslaughter. That is different from a simple DUI, which Brent actually was charged with a few years ago.

Anyway, the tragic news stemming from this report is that a Cowboys practice squad player, Jerry Brown, became a casualty of Brent’s drunken doings. Brown, who most recently played for the San Antonio Talons AFL team, was just 25 years old.

So naturally, after yet another dose of bad news involving an NFL player on a Saturday, many people were expecting Costas to stir the pot during halftime of “Sunday Night Football” for the second week in a row. This week, the Green Bay Packers host the Detroit Lions – but I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a ratings uptick in the middle of the “SNF” broadcast.

Here’s a sample of what people were saying on Twitter – I’m surprised “Bob Costas” wasn’t trending.

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.

Rosary Games: Mike Taylor On The Spurs And Superstitions

San Antonio sports radio host Mike Taylor talks about what appeared to be a good-luck charm for the Spurs this year – the rosary he’s wearing in this photo – in what started as a thrilling postseason for the team, until they were eliminated by the Oklahoma City Thunder.

What began as a surefire path to the NBA Finals last season for the San Antonio Spurs ended with an unexpected rampart.

They ended the strike-shortened regular season with ten straight wins, and doubled up into the postseason with sweeps of the Utah Jazz and the Los Angeles Clippers, respectively, plus two wins in a row against the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference Finals. The twenty-win continuum was enough to surpass the Los Angeles Lakers’ record of 19 straight games won starting in the regular season and ending in the playoffs. The Spurs fell just short of that record in 2004 (17 games) but the twenty-game overall streak put them over the top.
 
Yet they were unsuccessful at reaching the pinnacle of the NBA playoffs.
 
Unfortunately for the Spurs, Thunder rumbled.
 
A rumbling to the tune of four straight wins, eliminating the Spurs, and deterring them from an appearance in the NBA Finals that seemed like such a lock when the playoffs began.
Perhaps the most stunned person in San Antonio after the Spurs’ collapse was Mike Taylor, who recently celebrated his fifth anniversary as host of the afternoon drive program, “Sports Talk San Antonio,” on KTKR/”Ticket 760″, and has also hosted Spurs programming for KTKR’s sister station 1200 WOAI, the 50,000-watt blowtorch he jokingly refers to on the air as “the big brother down the hall.”
 
Taylor relocated to San Antonio after spending years as a sports radio host in Dallas. (Like Taylor, the Spurs themselves are also Dallas transplants: did you know that for the first six years of their existence, they were known as the Dallas Chaparrals?) And even though he has yet to witness the team winning a championship as a member of the local media (they last won it all in 2007), he has seen them clinch their division for three out of five seasons – including, of course, the most recent one, where they finished with a 50-16 regular season record, tied with the Chicago Bulls, who clinched overall home court advantage by virtue of a better record against opponents in their division (13-1).
 
But once the Spurs started putting together a double-digit streak of wins, Taylor knew he was seeing something special. He thought that this could be the year the team could win their fifth NBA title.
 
He had enough confidence that he could practically swear to God that the Spurs would get it done.
In a word: The rosary.
 
“The Spurs had a season that I don’t even think they thought they could have,” Taylor told me. “So I think the rosary served its purpose.”
 
By now, you’ve probably seen or heard Bud Light’s current advertising campaign fabling football fans and their bizarre superstitions tied to the love and support of their favorite teams, all as the classic Stevie Wonder hit “Superstition” is heard behind them.
 
I think Bud Light, which coincidentally holds the sponsorship rights to the “Ticket 760” broadcasting studios, might have a premise for a new commercial on their hands, if they wish to foray their ad campaign into the NBA.
 
On one afternoon, as the Spurs were preparing for their playoff run, Taylor was broadcasting an edition of “STSA” live from a local establishment (or as regular listeners to his show would say, “the muskrat rule is in effect”) when he was paid a visit by “a fine everyday listener – one of those kind you never actually want to meet, because it would take away something cool.”
 
But it was what the listener transported to Taylor that was cool: a rosary, blessed by none other than Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican – that according to the Catholic church in town that the listener got it from.
 
“It smelled like the Pope, so I took it at face value,” Taylor said.
 
And so, during the first two rounds of the NBA playoffs, as the Spurs racked up win after win against the Jazz and the Clippers, and added to their overall winning streak that started April 29 against the aforementioned Jazz, Taylor would get on the air every day after a game and tell listeners how the Spurs are “[number of wins in the playoffs]-and-0” while that rosary was in his possession.
 
“There have been so many bits that just seemed to present themselves to me,” Taylor explained, “and the timing of the rosary and the streak just added to the pile. Luck has played a huge factor into it all… It just seems like things have fallen into place for me here.”
 
Further adding to the rosary “bit,” Taylor pointed out that ever since he started doing sports radio in San Antonio, “I have always joked that God loves STSA.”
 
So the fact that the Spurs didn’t win the title (for those of you who spent the summer under a rock, LeBron James finally got that ever-elusive NBA championship with the Miami Heat), let alone never advanced to the NBA Finals, and to be bounced from the playoffs by losing four straight games after starting the postseason with ten victories in a row, does that not somehow taint or curse the rosary?
 
“No, the Spurs didn’t win the title, but that wasn’t the essence of the bit,” Taylor recalled. “It was a rally cry that gave people down here, who have all but given up on another title, hope.”
 
Taylor likened his rosary to the fascicle of T-shirts emblazoned with the phrase “I Want Some Nasty” that circulated around San Antonio after Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich uttered the phrase during a timeout in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals. Pop’s “nasty” pep talk inspired the Spurs to rally from a nine-point deficit to defeat the Thunder – their penultimate win of the season.
 
“Americans get so wrapped up in winning a championship,” Taylor said, “that they lose sight of the fun you have during a run like that.”
 
Getting back to superstitions: The Dallas Cowboys, another team Taylor talks about frequently on the air, possess a superstition of their own. Have you noticed how the team rarely, if at all, wears dark blue jerseys during home games? Apparently, it’s tied to a loss to the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl V. When the team opened Texas Stadium the following season, they started exclusively sporting white uniforms – and by the way, they returned to the big game that year and beat the Miami Dolphins for their first of five Super Bowl championships.
 
All of this may have been before Taylor’s time – but he remembers a couple of Mavericks fanatics with their own superstition.
 
“There was this young man who would dress up like a lunatic Mavs fan, along with his fiancee,” Taylor recalled. “And they’d score free tickets to every home game because of their silly costumes.
“They somehow got it in their heads that if they ever got married, Dallas would never win a title. And they would certainly tie the knot, but not until the Mavericks won the thing. They went through all the playoff heartbreaks together, staying engaged and never planning a wedding.”
 
And when Dirk Nowitzki and company won the franchise’s first championship in its 31st year of existence, there were millions of sighs of relief around the Dallas Metroplex – none bigger than two particular individuals, I’m sure.
 
“I thought about those crazies the night the Mavs won in Miami,” Taylor said. “Actually got a little misty eyed.”
 
So the Larry O’Brien Trophy does not stay in Texas for another year. But the San Antonio Spurs will be looking to exact revenge against the team that eliminated them from the playoffs, the Oklahoma City Thunder, Thursday night at the AT&T Center.
 
Mike Taylor may or may not have the rosary in his possession when the Spurs’ 2012-13 season starts. But he’ll most certainly be carrying around one personal good luck charm.
 
“I carry around a picture of my dad from when he was, like, 6 or 7,” Taylor acknowledged. “He’s such a sports fan, and I think I decided to get into this business to make him proud of me.”
 
By hosting the most popular sports radio show in San Antonio, the self-appointed “Mayor of Sports”, is definitely making many people proud.
 
And, of course, Jesus Christ.