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.

Donovan McNabb Wants The Overtime Rules Back The Way They Were

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFL Network analyst Donovan McNabb is calling for a carbon copy of the original overtime rules. As for ties, he would vow to "just play football" until somebody wins.

NFL Network analyst Donovan McNabb is calling for a carbon copy of the original overtime rules. As for ties, he would vow to “just play football” until somebody wins.

We all remember when Donovan McNabb led the Philadelphia Eagles to a tie against the Cincinnati Bengals – and how he thought the game would continue after that one and only 15-minute overtime period.

Suddenly, the retired quarterback and now NFL Network analyst (who, by the way, you’ll be hearing a lot from on NBC Sports Radio – you’ve been warned) has become an expert on overtime in the NFL: he basically wants the overtime rules, which were modified to give the team losing the coin toss at least one possession for OT in the playoffs in 2010, and eventually the regular season as well, two years later, reinstated to its previous form.

This during a roundtable segment on Saturday’s “NFL Total Access” program on NFL Network, in which host Andrew Siciliano asked panelists which rule they would change if they were NFL commissioner for a day. Analyst Brian Baldinger made a case for simplifying “overlitigated” plays that may be ruled differently by officials, and guest analyst, Indianapolis Colts linebacker Dwight Freeney, wants an end to “cut blocks” from offensive linemen or tight ends.

But McNabb, well, he wants to go back to the future.

Transcript below:

DONOVAN McNABB: You know what? I know everyone will probably entertain themselves with mine. You know, and my Twitter followers, you’ll love this one, but I’m going to talk about the overtime rules. I’d rather — let’s get back to normal football, and if it goes to overtime, hey, first — first touchdown, first field goal wins, and the game is over. We all know, hey, if you score a touchdown, it’s over; if you kick a field goal, do you kick an onside kick, then it’s like, they have possession of the ball, game is [over]…

BRIAN BALDINGER: Do you play it all through the season, all the way until someone wins?

McNABB: Regular season — you know, you get into overtime in the regular season, you kick a field goal, the game is over.

ANDREW SICILIANO: I’ll ask: what about ties?

McNABB: [Laughter] Well, well, ties, hey, in the regular season, I was part of a tie —

SICILIANO: But, do you want to ban ties? I’d ban ties.

McNABB: You know what, let’s just play football. Let’s continue to play football. We have nowhere to go, the fans have nowhere to go, hey, let’s — whoever kicks a field goal or scores a touchdown, game is over.

BALDINGER: Injuries, injuries that happen in the second overtime?

McNABB: We’re, we are never, in the NFL, worried about injuries. We’re worried about ratings. And money. So it’s not that, how long it goes, and, you know, if somebody gets hurt — play till somebody wins.

Merrill Reese Rips ESPN: "Ridiculous, Absolutely Pathetic" To Apologize For Brent Musburger/Katherine Webb Kerfuffel

 

 

 

 

 

 

Philadelphia Eagles announcer Merrill Reese blasted ESPN, saying he “lost respect for” the network after issuing an apology for Brent Musburger’s praising of Katherine Webb during the BCS National Championship Game.

Merrill Reese has been the radio play-by-play voice of the Philadelphia Eagles for the past thirty-five years.

He certainly was a voice of reason to many die-hard fans during a 2012 season in which they lost eleven of their last twelve games.

But believe it or not, there was something else in football that rubbed Reese the wrong way. It wasn’t Brent Musburger’s reaction to Katherine Webb and Dee Dee Bonner being shown during ESPN’s telecast of the BCS National Championship Game, in which Alabama routed Notre Dame.

Rather, it was ESPN apologizing for Musburger’s comments regarding the girlfriend of Crimson Tide quarterback A.J. McCarron during the game.

Many, including Webb herself, agree that an apology was not necessary. But for a long-time broadcaster like Reese, the Worldwide Leader’s actions really struck a nerve with him.

“I lost respect, not for Brent Musburger, but for ESPN,” Reese admitted. “To issue an apology over that, where are we going? I mean, there’s political correctness, and there’s being ridiculous. There was nothing out of line with what you did. We’re sitting around, we’re watching college football, they obviously had the shot planned of Katherine Webb, she is absolutely gorgeous, and he reacted, and it was, there was nothing wrong with that whatsoever, and to apologize for something like that is absolutely pathetic.”

Certainly not the first, nor the last pathetic act by ESPN, I’m sure.

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.

Michael Lombardi: "I Haven't Been Contacted" About Browns Position (Yet)

With the Cleveland Browns expected to terminate head coach Pat Shurmur and general manager Tom Heckert, NFL Network’s Michael Lombardi, a previous Browns employee for ten years, may put his burgeoining broadcasting career on hold.

With New Year’s Eve 2013 falling on the day after the end of the NFL regular season, today could be considered the eve of destruction, as about as many as a dozen teams are expected to potentially dismiss their current head coaches and/or general managers and other staff.

One of those teams linked to such speculation is the Cleveland Browns, who have not finished with a winning record since 2007 (and even that year, they missed the playoffs).

There are rumblings that new Browns owner Joe Banner will relieve head coach Pat Shurmur of his duties, and eventually reorganize the front office – with the name of Michael Lombardi surfacing, due to his past connection with Banner when both were working with the Philadelphia Eagles. And, of course, Lombardi himself had worked behind the scenes for the Browns from 1987 to 1996.

So when Lombardi was brought on Saturday night’s edition of “NFL Total Access” by telephone, he was given the opportunity to say – well, basically, the same thing he’s been saying ever since he’s been named the de facto GM by NFL bloggers.

After discussing the future of Shurmur under new team ownership, NFL Network’s Scott Hanson told viewers he was “doing my due diligence” in asking Lombardi the inevitable question about him possibly joining the Browns as their new general manager.

After razzing Hanson about his infatuation with the sweaters that he donned the last time he was working for the league in a management capacity, Lombardi said: “Look… Decisions haven’t been finalized, in terms of the front office. Once they do that, I look for the Browns to go get a coach first, and then make their decisions about a front office, and I haven’t been contacted, and that’s what I’ve maintained all along.”

And there’s a good reason as to why nobody from the Browns organization, or any team, for that matter, hasn’t reached out to Lombardi.

“Ultimately… you don’t get contacted until jobs have officially opened up, and they haven’t opened up yet.”

Word on the street is that the franchise will indeed be creating job vacancies on the day referred to by the mainstream football media as “Black Monday.”

And that means there’s a very good possibility that Lombardi might be contacted by the Browns, one of five teams he’s been employed by. Since leaving the Raiders in 2007, Lombardi started making regular appearances on NFL Network, and has been an NFL.com columnist since 2010 (this after working for a couple of years at the NationalFootballPost.com website he founded in 2008).

In addition to being an “insider” for NFL Network, he also just completed his first season co-hosting NFLN’s new Sunday early morning “First On The Field” program, alongside Melissa Stark, Sterling Sharpe and LaDainian Tomlinson.

But if the Cleveland Browns have their way, Michael Lombardi will be off the air – and on the clock.

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.