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.

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!

Prediction: Jets And/Or Cowboys Will Play A Whopping Six Primetime Games In 2012

There's a good chance you might be seeing a little bit more of Tony Romo and Tim Tebow in primetime this season. That's because Sportsrantz is predicting that the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Jets are strong candidates to be granted six primetime games. Per NFL rules, as many as three teams can play a maximum of six primetime games in a season.

In what is perhaps the worst kept secret in all of sports (unless you ask Duffy’s), the NFL announced today that the entire 2012 schedule will be released tomorrow – Tuesday – at 7 PM ET, coinciding with a special on NFL Network. ESPN will air their own special devoted to the schedule release, as well.

And with the complete 2012 NFL schedule comes a bigger primetime picture.

The additional six primetime games are made possible by NFL Network’s “Thursday Night Football” package expanding from eight games to thirteen, with the Thanksgiving night game, carried on NFL Network since they began telecasting regular season NFL games, airing on NBC effective this year. As part of this deal, commissioner Roger Goodell guaranteed that all 32 teams would play at least one primetime game every year.

Which means the five teams that were snubbed by the night spotlight – Arizona Cardinals, Buffalo Bills, Carolina Panthers, Cincinnati Bengals and Tennessee Titans – will somehow be ready for primetime in 2012.

But this post isn’t about the teams privileged to play primetime games – but rather, the ones that will be perhaps too privileged.

In 2011, there were a grand total of 42 scheduled primetime games, not counting the Week 17 “Sunday Night Football” season finale on NBC. Of these 42 games, 25 of them involved six teams that were awarded five primetime games each: the New York Jets, the Baltimore Ravens, the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Indianapolis Colts, the Philadelphia Eagles and, despite their 6-10 record the previous season, the Dallas Cowboys. Of course, one of these games, the Colts/Patriots contest originally scheduled for Sunday night, December 4 on NBC, was flexed back to CBS in exchange for Lions/Saints – so by virtue of that maneuver, the Saints ended up getting five primetime games. And of course, the Cowboys/Giants season finale was flexed to Week 17, effectively giving the Cowboys a total of six primetime games in 2011.

So it’s obvious that an NFL team playing six primetime games in a season can be done. But with more primetime games to spread around, what are the odds that one team – maybe two – end up getting six games on the 2012 scheduled for primetime? According to NFL rules, a maximum of three teams can make as many as six primetime appearances in a single season.

So when you factor in the Colts clearly not getting five primetime games in 2012, and perhaps ditto for the Bountygate-suspension-plagued Saints, you get the sense that with an expanded primetime menu, while all 32 teams will be guaranteed at least one game, not only will some teams get more primetime exposure – particularly one playing with a future Hall of Fame quarterback for the first time – but teams that have already been experiencing the ultimate primetime exposure, in the form of five games, will be ripe for a sixth primetime game.

And no matter how wishy-washy Rex Ryan may be about an encore on HBO’s “Hard Knocks,” whether he likes it or not, his Jets team will be featured in six primetime games when the schedule is finally released on Tuesday.

You read me right: I predict that the New York Jets will get more primetime games this season than the New York Giants, who won the previous Super Bowl! And it isn’t just the Rex Ryan factor, but it’s definitely the Tim Tebow factor. The team says they plan to get Tebow involved with a large number of plays in each game, but if you figure he gains the starting job halfway through the season, it’s possible most of the Jets’ primetime games will be played in the second half of 2012.

And yes, among this six-pack of prime-timers will be the lone primetime game that the Jaguars will play in 2012. That game will probably be on ESPN or perhaps NFL Network. In fact, here are the six teams that the Jets might be facing under the lights this season: 49ers, Chargers, Texans (home); Jaguars, Patriots, Steelers (away).

And here’s another bold prediction: Not only will the Jets be maxing out on primetime appearances when the initial 2012 schedule is released, but there will be a second team to follow suit – because, remember, you can have up to three teams playing six primetime games in a single season – and that second team would be the team that the Jets opened up their 2011 campaign against, fittingly in primetime: The Dallas Cowboys.

There’s a reason why the Cowboys are labeled “America’s Team”: because America watches them in droves. In fact, that September 11 Jets/Cowboys contest on NBC last year ended up being the most-watched edition of “Sunday Night Football” – that is, until the final game of the regular season, which also involved the Cowboys. In fact, the six top-rated “Sunday Night Football” games featured the Cowboys. The NFL knows what it’s doing by scheduling the Cowboys against the Giants to open the season on September 5. The league knows it cannot do wrong by scheduling the season opener for the Cowboys on NBC in primetime for three years in a row.

That’s why when I analyzed the “leaked” 2012 NFL schedule, which the leaker since confessed to creating himself, my jaw hit the floor when I found that there were no Cowboys games in the plans on NFL Network. And historically, Cowboys games on NFL Network were played on Saturday nights. The ‘Boys are no stranger to Thursday games – why, we watch them every Thanksgiving as we fill ourselves up with turkey and brussels sprouts. I suppose NFL teams can only play one Thursday game per season? Well, in the event that’s not set in stone, you can certainly put me down for a Cowboys six-pack.

The Cowboys’ half dozen primetime games might play like this: At home, they’ll host the Redskins and Steelers, but they’ll play four primetime games on the road: the Bengals, the Eagles, the Falcons, and of course, the season opener against the World Champion Giants. Bonus prediction: On Thanksgiving, the Cowboys will play the Bears.

As previously mentioned, I predict the Giants will receive less primetime games than their Metlife Stadium mates, the Jets, despite winning the big game back in February. They’ll get five. As will the Eagles, Packers, Patriots and Ravens.

Then, there’s the Denver Broncos. I’m literally on the fence as far as whether or not Peyton Manning’s new team will play four primetime games or five. But I can guarantee that two home games against the Steelers and the Texans are shoo-ins for primetime clearance. I liked the Broncos opening up the 2012 campaign with Manning under center for the first time on “Sunday Night Football” against the Texans, the team that ended his personal consecutive games started streak, when the fake 2012 NFL schedule came out a few weeks ago. I’d like it to happen for real when the actual 2012 NFL schedule is released. And while the Broncos eliminated the Steelers from last year’s playoffs behind Tim Tebow, who of course is no longer with the team, those “playoff elimination revenge” gamea are always entertaining. And then there’s another playoff rematch from last year – that Broncos road game in New England. Who knew that NBC and CBS would both be smitten by Tebowmania last year and squabble over the carriage of a regular season game between these two teams. But with Peyton Manning involved, it’s a whole new ballgame. Yes, the quarterback rivalry between Manning and Tom Brady that had shone during all of those Patriots/Colts contests begins a new era when Manning represents the Broncos. With CBS carrying the previous two matchups between these two teams in the Tebow era, the least that the NFL can do is give this game to NBC. They could wisely schedule it in the late fall, which is when Brady and Manning usually square off, or they could make this the “SNF” season opener on September 9. Either way, look for that game to end up on NBC. It’s only fair. Heck, maybe it could be the Thanksgiving night game. In fact, that matchup on Thanksgiving night might just break all existing Cowboys primetime game records.

And yes, the Patriots will also host the Colts in a game this season… This would be a perfect Monday night game for ESPN.

With all 32 NFL teams guaranteed at least one primetime game starting this year, it would be quite perplexing to come up with which opponents will make up their night contests (well, most of them; see: Jets/Jaguars). So I won’t go through that much trouble. I mean, Buccaneers/Raiders as a Monday night game on ESPN looked good when that false schedule came out, but then again, the league can throw a lateral and put Buccaneers/Cowboys in primetime for the second year in a row.

But with an expanded number of primetime games to be played, don’t be surprised if you see one team – perhaps two – under the lights a little more.

Why Is The NFL Playing Possum With The Schedule Release Date?

Can anybody explain why the NFL is so hush-hush about confirming the schedule release date every year? It appears that they will be doing so once again on short notice, because I was actually able to confirm that the 2012 schedule will be released this Tuesday, April 17, at 7 PM ET. A little bird at a place in Miami called Duffy's told me.

Once again, the National Football League has not given their fans advanced notice on when to expect the release of the 2012 NFL schedule.

Clearly, all signs point to the day being Tuesday, April 17, based on the release day in recent years. Such as last year, when there was still no official word “48 hours until showtime” – yet there were several clues, including a listing on ESPN2 for the “SportsCenter Schedule Release Special” beginning at 7 PM. NFL Network had their own schedule release show at that same date and time, but I do not recall a lot of promotion building up until the date of the 2011 schedule release.

Fast forward to 2012: Once again, there’s a listing for a “SportsCenter Special” this Tuesday night, but on ESPN. It was initially logged into TVGuide.com’s listings as “SportsCenter Special: NFL Schedule Release.” But that since has been updated to remove the “NFL Schedule Release” part of the title, and there’s no description of the special. And here we are once again, 48 hours until showtime, and there is still no official word from the NFL confirming the 2012 schedule release date, and the league-run cable network still has a scroll on the bottom of the screen that reads: “Find out where and when your team will play next season. Watch the 2012 NFL Schedule Release Show, coming soon on NFL Network.”

“Soon.” The same explanation that NFL public relations whiz Greg Aiello gave Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio. And mind you, this was last Tuesday.

In an attempt to get down to the bottom of this conundrum, I did some Googling and I came across an interesting search result description. It read, “Tue. Apr. 17, 2012. 5 PM – 8 PM EDT. Schedule Release Party. Join us at Duffy’s in North Miami Beach on April 17th to celebrate the release of the 2012 NFL schedule.”

Please do yourself a favor and just click on this Google search equation. You’ll find that there are several references to the aforementioned “schedule release party” on pages belonging to the official website of… the Miami Dolphins… which, last I checked, is a team in the NFL.

Yet, when you go to the Dolphins’ actual website, you will find nary a reference to this schedule release party happening at Duffy’s this Tuesday. Was it canceled? Or perhaps an intern with keen scheduling habits posted the information a little too soon?

There was only one way for me to find out for sure: I called Duffy’s.

I first spoke to a waitress who, when asked if there were any events scheduled for Tuesday, she was not aware. After explaining that I found a promo for a schedule release party at that location on Tuesday, she placed me on hold for a minute. Continuing my call would be a woman who identified herself as Yaya, presumably a manager at the North Miami Beach Duffy’s location (the first woman I spoke to offered to connect me with the manager, and since the manager of the North Miami Beach location is listed on their website as Frans Kobus, Yaya might be an assistant manager – either that, or they need to update their website). Anyway, within seconds of taking my call, Yaya was anxious to inform me that there will be a schedule release party at Duffy’s on Tuesday night, complete with appearances from Dolphins cheerleaders, and possibly Dolphins players, as well – but the start time won’t be 5 PM – it will be 7 PM.

I repeat: I got an employee from a restaurant endorsed by an NFL franchise to confirm the schedule release date, before the actual league itself confirmed it for everybody else.

Which begs the obvious question: Why must the NFL be so coy in leading fans on to the official schedule release date? Does the league really need all of that time to “make up mock schedules to test the full schedule,” as Aiello had explained? I mean, we know for months when the NFL Draft is scheduled, and that’s considered a big deal. Since you’re able to get tickets to attend the event live in New York, it certainly would bode well to know what the date is ahead of time and have your schedule cleared.

Like the annual draft, the annual schedule release is also considered by some to be a big deal.

But what about establishments that hold schedule release parties? Like Duffy’s? For the NFL to all but wait until 24 hours until confirming the schedule release date, anyone who wants to attend schedule release parties would certainly have to do so on short notice. They may have already committed to alternate plans on Tuesday night, and thus would not be able to learn along with other Dolphins fans who their first opponent will be in the 2012-13 season.

And that doesn’t only hurt fans – that hurts eateries and drinkeries that depend on fans’ patronage. Like Duffy’s.

So, there you have it. Mark your calendar. Set your DVR. The 2012 NFL schedule will be released on Tuesday night at 7 PM ET.

And if you’re in the Miami area, why not swing by Duffy’s.

Tell ’em Diamond Joe sent you.

Stanley Cup Playoffs On CNBC Is Big Business For NHL

For the first time ever, CNBC will carry selected games from the first two rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. NBC Sports Network will carry a major number of games, along with NBC and NHL Network. CNBC first went on the air on April 17, 1989 and is available in close to 100 million households.

NBC is gearing up for the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs.

And this year, they’ll be giving them the business.

CNBC, the original cable network dedicated to the financial markets, is being factored into the plans for NBC Sports Group to telecast all four rounds of this year’s NHL playoffs.

With still less than a week remaining in the regular season, the teams that will be playing in these games are yet to be determined. But we can tell you that games for the first two rounds of the playoffs – the conference quarterfinals scheduled to start Wednesday, April 11, and the ensuing conference semifinals – will air on CNBC, as well as NBC Sports Network (the former Versus) and NHL Network, the league-operated channel of which roughly one-sixth is owned by NBC Universal, NBC’s parent company. NBC will also carry several games over the weekends during the opening rounds.

Regional sports networks with local broadcast rights to the teams involved in this year’s playoffs may air their own coverage of their teams’ games in addition to the NBC family of networks’ coverage, but only in the first round. The NHL playoffs air exclusively over NBC and the aforementioned three cablers starting in the second round.

NBC and NBC Sports Network will carry all games in the third and fourth rounds. NBCSN will air all games in the conference final round, with a handful of games airing on NBC over weekends. The Stanley Cup final round’s first two games will air on NBC, regardless of which nights the games are scheduled, with NBCSN carrying the third and fourth games of the series. Any additional games if necessary would air on NBC.

In Canada, the latter two rounds will air in their entirety on CBC, as well as the French-language sports network RDS.

As recent as last year, NHL playoff games aired only along NBC and what was then known as Versus. As a result, many playoff games were not shown in the United States, including the entire first-round series between Anaheim and Nashville. The addition of CNBC, as well as NHL Network, provides extra outlets for games to be carried. This brings to mind the 2008 Summer Olympics, where NBC distributed selected events to sister networks including CNBC. This could possibly be the first time since then that a major sporting event aired on CNBC. Earlier this year, CNBC aired the 136th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show – if that qualifies as sports programming.

Stanley Cup Playoff games airing on CNBC might be an odd fit, but it’s a coup for the NHL: the network – which first went on the air 23 years ago this month – reaches close to 100 million households, which is more than the reaches for NBCSN and NHLN combined, and then some.

Granted, the NHL could increase CNBC’s current primetime ratings dramatically. Currently, their daily business-oriented programming gives way at 8 PM Eastern to a series of documentaries, which usually have a business angle. They also show an occasional rerun of Donald Trump’s “Celebrity Apprentice.” In fact, these will mostly make up CNBC’s broadcast day this Friday, as the American markets are closed in observance of Good Friday. (For what it’s worth, over half of the programming schedule on Saturdays and Sundays consist of infomercials.)

The possibility of CNBC carrying NHL playoff games first came to light on Super Bowl Sunday, when NBC, which aired the big game, aired a promo for this year’s playoffs, which adorned the logos of four networks, including CNBC.

We officially have our answer.

As CNBC’s resident sports business expert Darren Rovell would say: game on.

Jinx Nantz? CBS' No. 1 NFL Booth Defies Tebow Time, Three Weeks In A Row

Since CBS battled NBC over the Broncos/Patriots game, Denver is now 0-3 - with Jim Nantz and Phil Simms calling all three of those games. Perhaps CBS should relegate them to the bathroom, like Mush from "A Bronx Tale."

Well, I hope CBS is satisfied with themselves.

This all started when CBS engaged in a fierce scrimmage with NBC over who would televise the Broncos/Patriots game back in Week 15. At that point, the Broncos were on a six-game winning streak, and Tim Tebow, supplanted as the Broncos’ starting quarterback after their bye week during Week 6, had been 7-1 as a starter.

Ever since then, all three Broncos games that had been shown on CBS were called by their number one announcing booth of Jim Nantz and Phil Simms.

And wouldn’t you know it, the Broncos end the regular season on a three-game losing streak.

As are Jim Nantz and Phil Simms when it comes to “Tebow Time.”

Funny how karma works.

Let’s review: The Broncos were 1-4 B.C. (before changing starting quarterbacks). In the eight games that followed with Tebow under center, half of them were CBS games. You may recall that one of the originally scheduled CBS games went to FOX after NBC flexed Lions/Saints in Week 13. That would be followed by another FOX game in Week 14. The lone Broncos loss in that eight-game stretch was also a FOX game, Tebow’s second start of the season, in Detroit in Week 8. And there was the NFL Network primetime game in Week 11.

For CBS’ Broncos games in this stretch – all of which were Broncos road games in other AFC team cities, coincidentally – their announcers of choice were: Kevin Harlan and Solomon Wilcots (Week 7 at Miami), Greg Gumbel and Dan Dierdorf (Week 9 at Oakland), Bill Macatee and Steve Tasker (Week 10 at Kansas City) and Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts (Week 12 at San Diego).

With Tebowmania at an all-time high between the Week 13 and Week 14 games, at which point the NFL would decide which game in Week 15, if any, would be flexed into “Sunday Night Football.” NBC, for obvious reasons, had its eye on the Broncos/Patriots matchup. CBS, after realizing that they have been assigning only their second-tier and below announcing teams to Broncos games during the Tim Tebow era, tells NBC, not so fast. They suddenly realized that the Jets/Eagles game that they protected back in October – right around the time Tebow was named the Broncos’ starter – wasn’t as valuable as Broncos/Patriots. Heck, CBS now realized that any game in which the Broncos are playing is gold, period, due to the Tim Tebow factor.

The two networks tussled until one Wednesday afternoon, when NBC decides to pull out and go on with the originally scheduled Ravens/Chargers game that Sunday night on their air.

This is our chance, Nantz and Simms probably said to themselves. Seeing those wild Bronco game finishes take place with the other CBS announcing teams, they would be getting ready to call some “Tebow Time” magic of their own.

Much to CBS’ dismay, Tebowmania would peak after Week 14.

In Week 15, in Denver – on a game that would eventually not be seen on NBC, thanks to the strong-arming of CBS, backed by Patriots owner Robert Kraft – the Patriots would end Tebow and the Broncos’ winning streaks.

Things would get worse in Week 16, where Tebow would throw three interceptions en route to a 26-point defeat in Buffalo. That result, coupled with the Giants’ win over the Jets on Christmas Eve, enabled NBC to opt for Cowboys/Giants on “Sunday Night Football” in Week 17. Now, keep in in mind, NBC could have had any game they wanted, and CBS and FOX couldn’t fight NBC’s taking it. Meaning, they could have taken the Chiefs/Broncos game, which had playoff implications, but certainly not the “win and you’re in” aura that the Cowboys/Giants game possesses – with both teams tied at 8-7, the winner would take the NFC East division, and the loser would not qualify for the playoffs at all – NBC figures this matchup would give them a bigger ratings bonanza than Tim Tebow starring in a revival of “Pink Lady and Jeff.”

So despite the Broncos losing both of their last games on CBS – both called by Jim Nantz and Phil Simms – by a combined score of 81-37, and upon learning that the network would retain their regular season finale against the Chiefs in Week 17, they sent Nantz and Simms back to Denver, anyway.

Granted, CBS could have sent their top announcing duo to a host of other interesting games. Nantz and Simms were usually supplanted at games involving the Patriots, Jets or Steelers. The Patriots had actually came back from a 21-0 deficit against Buffalo and closed the game with 49 unanswered points. The Jets and Steelers were both involved in close games. Even the Titans/Texans matchup was tight. Instead, Nantz and Simms called what turned out to be the lowest-scoring game of the entire weekend, with just ten total points scored. Only one team, the Browns – who were playing the aforementioned Steelers – scored less points as a team.

And perhaps it was poetic justice that the Broncos would score the least points of the weekend.

Tim Tebow would finish the game with just 76 total yards. The Browns’ starting quarterback, Seneca Wallace, would muster nearly three times as many all-purpose yards (220) on this same weekend.

Maybe it was the appeal of the Chiefs’ starting quarterback, Kyle Orton – who was the Broncos’ starting quarterback at the start of the season – facing his former team and possibly eliminating them from playoff contention, that led to CBS deciding to plug Nantz and Simms in for that game. (Note that they did call a Broncos game this season, in Green Bay – but it was back in Week 4, when Orton’s tenure with Denver was still in effect.)

Or maybe it was because they were so determined to have a “Tebow Time” moment at their expense. Certainly, if the likes of Bill Macatee and Ian Eagle – with due respect – called such games on CBS’ air, Nantz was due, right?

And with a 7-3 score for most of the second half, clearly, the possibility of another episode of “Tebow Time” was on the horizon.

Alas, Denver’s four ensuing possessions since a third quarter field goal would end in punts; their final possession, with less than a minute remaining, would end with an interception.

Three straight games with Jim Nantz and Phil Simms behind the mic. Three straight losses.

Bill Macatee 1, Jim Nantz 0.

This is exactly what CBS gets for not letting NBC have the Broncos/Patriots game back in Week 15.

In three consecutive games with CBS’ top announcing team in place, the Broncos are 0-3, lose by a combined total of 50 points, and Tim Tebow, with just two interceptions coming into the big Week 15 showdown with Tom Brady and the Patriots that CBS fought like hell to keep off NBC’s air, tripled his pick total.

With all of these factors, I have come to the conclusion that Jim Nantz and Phil Simms are Tebowmania jinxes.

Granted, this is only after one whirlwind season. You can bet Nantz and Simms will likely be calling at least six Broncos games next season. Then and only then will their Tebow jinx truly be put to the test.

Until then, Jim and Phil are Tebow Time mushes.

Incidentally, despite the Broncos’ loss this week, they still clinched a playoff berth by virtue of the Chargers beating the Raiders. And they will host a playoff game next week against the Steelers. Usually, Wild Card Weekend consists of two Saturday games on NBC, and one game each on CBS and FOX. The early word is that the AFC game scheduled for Saturday is the Broncos/Steelers matchup, which means that it would indeed be shown on NBC. The other AFC Wild Card game has the Bengals traveling to Houston for the first playoff game in Texans franchise history, and from what I hear, that is scheduled for Sunday of Wild Card Weekend.

You might recall one of the key items behind CBS fighting NBC over the Broncos/Patriots game was due to their owned-and-operated stations in Denver and Boston.

And, big surprise, CBS also owns a television station in Pittsburgh.

Meanwhile, on Sunday night, it was confirmed that the Texans/Bengals game would be played on Saturday at 4:30 PM ET – and the Broncos/Steelers game on Sunday at 4:30 PM ET.

I guess Sean McManus won’t be doing a lot of heavy lifting this week – but I wonder if Mark Lazarus will be lifting a “terrible towel” on Sunday. That is, if he had any intentions of letting Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth experience “Tebow Time,” for once, provided there is any left this season. CBS realizes that, if the Broncos might beat the Steelers, they’d get another Broncos playoff game the following week, right?

Looks like NBC will have to wait until next year for “Tebow Time” – perhaps on the opening Thursday night season “kickoff” game vs. the team that wins the Super Bowl – if not the Broncos themselves. Bank on it.

In the meantime, Jim Nantz and Phil Simms will have another chance to prove if they are indeed not Tim Tebow kryptonite.

Remember: it ain’t over until Pink Lady sings.

Regional Roundup: NFL Week 17

All the Skittles in the world couldn't save Marshawn Lynch and the Seattle Seahawks from falling out of playoff contention, and that, combined with Cowboys/Giants being flexed to primetime, gives FOX a "single game" aura on Week 17.

It’s the final week of the regular season – and thus, the final opportunity to bring you a rundown of who will be calling what games on the last day of the 2011 NFL regular season – which actually falls on the first day of 2012. Go figure.

Week 17 is traditionally a gung-ho week in that both CBS and FOX have double-headers – save for the markets whose teams will be hosting a game, of course.

EARLY GAMES

CBS: With the NFL flexing many games possessing playoff implications into the late game window, it’s no coincidence that many of the games ending up (or staying) in the early game window don’t really have that much appeal – or they’ve lost a lot of the appeal that they might have had at least a month ago. Case in point: The New York Jets are now a longshot to make the playoffs after losing two straight games that they had a considerable chance of winning. Still, CBS is sending Greg Gumbel and Dan Dierdorf to cover the Jets’ likely season finale in Miami, in a game that will be seen in roughly three quarters of the country. With the Texans clinching the AFC South division long ago, their game with the Titans is meaningless, but in a good way. Bill Macatee and Steve Tasker will call this game, which will be seen in the entire state of Texas; the entire state of Tennessee; and for some reason, Seattle, as well. Two of the reasons that the Texans were able to lock up the AFC South – the 4-11 Jaguars and the 2-13 Colts – will square off in Jacksonville; Spero Dedes and the venerable Steve Beuerlein will be handling this one; only the entire state of Indiana will see it, as well as Jacksonville. (Yes, they actually sold out another game!) And had Buffalo not lost seven straight games, perhaps their matchup with New England would have been flexed out to a later window – heck, maybe Gumbel and Dierdorf would have called it. Instead, CBS’ D-team of Don Criqui and Randy Cross will call this game, which will be seen in Atlanta, Oklahoma City and Portland, OR, in addition to the usual Northeast territories.

FOX: I suppose my previous statement about the early games in Week 17 not having enough spunk goes out the window with the announcement that FOX’s A-team, Joe Buck and Troy Aikman, will be in New Orleans for the Panthers/Saints game. But they’ll possibly be witnessing some more history, as Drew Brees, one week (okay, six days since he last played on Monday Night Football) removed from breaking Dan Marino’s single-season passing yardage record, looks to build on that record – but it’s contingent on whether or not it will be a close game; figure if it’s a blowout on either side, Brees will be benched in preparation for the playoff run ahead. Though New Orleans could grab a first-round bye by the end of the day, so maybe Brees plays from start to finish. We’ll see – and if you’re in the bottom half of the country, or in the Northeast, chances are you will. Regardless, I’m sure Joe and Troy would rather be in East Rutherford to call the Cowboys/Giants game that will decide the winner of the NFC East, with the loser going home; alas, that was immediately flexed out to Sunday night to NBC, no sooner than a combination of the Giants beating the Jets, and Tim Tebow throwing multiple interceptions, took place. By the way, if you’re on the Eastern seaboard, you won’t be able to watch Panthers/Saints – you’ll be stuck watching the Redskins/Eagles game (aka the anti-NFC East championship game) being called by FOX’s F-team of Ron Pitts and Charles Davis; regardless of who wins this one, both teams will be going home. Meanwhile, in Minneapolis, where a strong Metrodome roof is a welcome sight these days, the Vikings host the Chicago Bears in what will be the season finale for both of these teams, as well; Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston and Tony Siragusa will handle this one. Thom Brenneman and Brian Billick will be at Lambeau Field for the only game in the early window in which both teams could still be playing later in the month. We know the Packers have locked up everything but the kitchen sink; with that said, the Lions could be expecting a tame Packers team (pardon the pun) which could ease Detroit into the playoffs. And with the Lions actually being favored in this game, being played in Green Bay, even the Cowardly Lion thinks this Lions team has all the courage in the world to get a win. Finally, the 49ers visit St. Louis is what will likely be the final game for at least some major Rams personnel – the head coach and general manager have been rumored to be sent packing at season’s end – and Chris Myers and Tim Ryan will have the call.

LATE GAMES

CBS: Perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself in anticipation of a future column subject, but have you noticed that ever since CBS won that wrestling match with NBC over who would air the Patriots/Broncos tilt, Denver has lost two straight games? And is it a coincidence that both of those games were called by The Eye Network’s top-tier booth of Jim Nantz and Phil Simms? Well, it just so happens that the duo will once again be calling a game in which the Broncos are involved, for a third straight week. Will it be three in a row in the “L” column, as well? We’ll find out, as the Chiefs, led by Kyle Orton – who, you may recall, had started the season with the Broncos – head to Sports Authority Field at Mile High to take on Tim Tebow and his crew. At the moment, Denver leads the AFC West, but a loss here, and it could possibly go to the Oakland Raiders – who are playing at the exact same time, against the San Diego Chargers, in a game that will be called by the legendary Marv Albert, and former Raiders quarterback Rich Gannon. Figure that all but one team will be looking at the scoreboard – the Chargers will probably be looking at the clock on the scoreboard, because they can’t wait to get rid of Norv Turner and A.J. Smith. Also, the Cincinnati Bengals, who were able to successfully sell out a home game with a rare “two-for-the-price-of-one” ticket promotion – as long as it isn’t “ten-cent beer night,” right? – could successfully secure a wild card spot against the team that has all but secured a wild card spot themselves, the Baltimore Ravens. Both the Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers are tied atop the AFC North at 11-4 and are guaranteed playoff berths. And there’s a good chance that both of them will finish the afternoon at 12-4, because the Steelers will be playing the 4-11 Browns. By the way, Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts will be calling Ravens/Bengals, while Kevin Harlan and Solomon Wilcots have Steelers/Browns. (Can’t forget the announcers; they’re the reason these posts were written in the first place!)

FOX: It might be a double-header week for both FOX and CBS, but it probably feels like FOX has the single game deal this week, what with one of the NFC games being shifted to primetime on NBC, and most of the games being played in the early game window. (Am I the only one who noticed how all eight AFC matchups on CBS were evenly divided between the two windows?) How bad is FOX’s Week 17 late game window? Only one of the teams in these two games – the Atlanta Falcons – even has a sniff of making the postseason. And considering they’re just off of a 29-point loss to the Saints, and their opponent is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who are on what appears to be a 29-game losing streak, in any language, this could get ugly. And Dick Stockton and former Buccaneer John Lynch will call all the action – or lack thereof (sorry, Mr. Lynch). The other FOX late game sees Seattle – which had playoff implications up until last week – travel to Arizona; Sam Rosen and Chad Pennington will call that mess.

May you have a happy and healthy New Year. Thanks for reading!

Information from the506.com was used in this post.