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.

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Ravens To Open 2013-14 Season On Road… In Denver?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peyton Manning might get a chance to avenge his loss to the Baltimore Ravens in the recent NFL playoffs, as the Ravens are forced to play their season opener, scheduled for Thursday, September 5, on the road due to the Orioles citing their inability to reschedule their home game with the White Sox that same night.

Peyton Manning might get a chance to avenge his loss to the Baltimore Ravens in the recent NFL playoffs, as the Ravens are forced to play their season opener, scheduled for Thursday, September 5, on the road due to the Orioles citing their inability to reschedule their home game with the White Sox that same night.

For the first time since the Super Bowl champion was anointed the host of a season kickoff game at home, the Baltimore Ravens will be unable to continue this tradition, as the baseball team in town, the Orioles – who haven’t won a World Series in three decades – has decided to be a killjoy.

In a statement, the O’s claim all teams and leagues involved have done “everything possible to work with us to explore all options to reschedule the September 5 game.

“Given the limited options available to reschedule the game at that late date in the season, the parties jointly determined that even an earlier start time would still create such enormous logistical difficulties that it would greatly diminish the fan experience for both events which all parties realized would not be in the interest of their fans or the City.”

September 5 is the first Thursday of the month, on which the NFL has designated it its season “kickoff” night. The only exception was last year, when the New York Giants/Dallas Cowboys tilt was rescheduled to the Wednesday of that week, due to President Obama’s keynote presentation on the final night of the four-night Democratic National Convention, which was the Thursday of that week. (For the record, the Yankees and Mets were both on the road that day, but given their home stadiums are located outside the Giants’ field in New Jersey, there probably wouldn’t be that much of a brouhaha.)

And by the way, the first Wednesday of September this year is Rosh Hashanah, and the league had expressed at league meetings in Arizona this week their desire not to reschedule a Ravens’ home opener to that night. The Orioles would be finishing a three-game series in Cleveland that night, before embarking on a four-game homestand against the White Sox.

“While we are disappointed for the fans in Baltimore, we appreciate the efforts of the Ravens, Orioles and Major League Baseball and understand the logistical problems in trying to schedule the teams on the same day,” said the Ravens in their own team statement. “The Ravens will open the season on the road on Thursday night, September 5, in our annual NFL Kickoff Game on NBC.”

Unconfirmed to this point is whose stadium they will be invading on opening night.

Just as I speculated on which team I thought the Ravens would be hosting on September 5 on the day after they won the Super Bowl, I am now going to predict which team will host the Super Bowl champions on that night.

I will admit that a lot of research and thinking went into that post, but upon taking a good look at the eight teams they’re scheduled to play on the road this season, this time around, I invested as much time in my prediction as you did in reading this sentence.

Broncos.

Yes, the Denver Broncos, who hosted the divisional round playoff game in which the Ravens vanquished them in overtime en route to their second Lombardi Trophy, is the odd team outside of the three rivals in their division, half of another division in the AFC (Bills, Dolphins) and half of an NFC division (Bears, Lions) that the Ravens will be facing away from M&T Bank Stadium.

Yes, despite his struggles in that game, Peyton Manning is still ratings gold. In fact, his Broncos debut opened the “Sunday Night Football” season last year.

And yes, there could be a new rivarly budding between Manning and Joe Flacco, he of the record contract he signed in the offseason. Manning vs. Tom Brady it isn’t, but NBC will take it.

Heck, NBC would gladly take a rematch of an overtime playoff game in which the eventual Super Bowl champions prevailed – a game that was played on CBS, by the way.

So is Ravens/Broncos on September 5 in the bag? Not right away. Remember, CBS, the NFL’s AFC broadcast partner, has owned-and-operated television stations in Denver (KCNC-TV) as well as Baltimore (WJZ-TV). I’ll remind you how CBS was as defensive against NBC swiping away a regular season NFL game between the New England Patriots (CBS also owns WBZ-TV in Boston) and the Tim Tebow-led Broncos, as the Orioles appear to be for the right to play a regular season baseball game as scheduled, at a point in the season where either the O’s or the White Sox may be well out of playoff contention by the time the first pitch in that game is thrown.

For the Orioles’ sake, I just hope there isn’t rain in the forecast on the evening of September 5.

But who knows? It might be raining touchdowns in Denver that night.

And the big winner would be NBC.

Stay tuned.

Baltimore Ravens Will Kick Off 2013-14 NFL Season On NBC Against… Pittsburgh Steelers? New England Patriots?

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Baltimore Ravens will begin their defense of the Super Bowl championship with a Thursday night "kickoff" game on NBC, and it will likely be against the division rival Pittsburgh Steelers on September 5.

The Baltimore Ravens will begin their defense of the Super Bowl championship with a Thursday night “kickoff” game on NBC, and it will likely be against the division rival Pittsburgh Steelers on September 5.

There is but 213 days until the 2013-14 NFL season kicks off.

Not like we’re the only ones keeping track, or anything.

But with not even a single game scheduled (sans the two games taking place in London) for the upcoming NFL season – the entirely of which is slated to be released in mid-April (and that hasn’t stopped me in predicting which games will be played this upcoming Thanksgiving) – this much is true: Your Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens will open the season with a “kickoff” game airing on Thursday, September 5, on NBC.

The question is, who will their opponent be?

In the seven years that NBC has aired the season kickoff game, only two of those games were divisional matchups: New York Giants/Washington Redskins in 2008, and the Giants’ Wednesday night loss to the Dallas Cowboys last year. Meanwhile, the Pittsburgh Steelers have appeared in two of the three games that the AFC team winning the previous year’s big game have hosted the “kickoff” game in the ensuing year. Yet the Steelers, in their fifteen appearances on “Sunday Night Football,” have played the Ravens on “SNF” at least once during the last four seasons; the Ravens hosted the Steelers in 2009 and 2010; the Ravens would then win both subsequent “SNF” matchups against the Steelers at Heinz Field in 2011 and 2012.

So it’s very conceivable to think that the Ravens will host their division rival Steelers at M&T Bank Stadium on NBC, when the 2013-14 season kicks off.

But let’s look at the rest of the opponents the Ravens will be facing at home for the remainder of the year. Right away, we can count out the other AFC North foes, the Cincinnati Bengals and the Cleveland Browns. With AFC North teams scheduled to play interconference games against the NFC North division, the Ravens are due to host the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings, both of whom made the playoffs this past season.

Then, there’s the rest of the slate of AFC teams that will be traveling to Baltimore next season: the New York Jets, the New England Patriots and the Houston Texans.

If the Jets were not undergoing their current image problems (read: had they made the playoffs), you could make an argument for them being the Ravens’ first opponent of the year, given Jets head coach Rex Ryan’s previous ties with the Ravens. In fact, both teams had opened up their respective 2010 campaigns on “Monday Night Football.”

But then you have the Patriots and the Texans, two teams that the Ravens had met in the playoffs in recent years: in the 2011-12 playoffs, they defeated the Texans, en route to a crucial missed field goal sealing a loss to the Patriots in Foxboro – a loss, of course, that the Ravens would avenge in the Patriots’ house just a few weeks ago.

On paper, a Patriots/Ravens game would immediately blow a Steelers/Ravens game out of the water as your season opener. And the fact that the Ravens and Patriots both faced each other in the playoffs over the past two years, combined with the Ravens just recently winning it all, would add to the storylines for such a game. People are already drawing conclusions as to whether or not Joe Flacco is a better quarterback than Tom Brady, and that discussion is sure to continue through the offseason – and a culmination on the Thursday night primetime stage would be something that the NFL would want.

But would CBS stand for it? Each year, the NFL’s broadcast partners file requests for “protected games.” And with CBS possessing an owned-and-operated broadcast affiliate in both Boston and Baltimore, to have a game that could be lucrative to the network as a juicy late-game broadcast taken away for airing on NBC, may not sit well with the Eye Network. (CBS also has an O&O in Pittsburgh, but the Ravens and Steelers play each other two times per year.)

You already know how influential Patriots owner Robert Kraft is, and how he wielded his power when the league had considered moving a Broncos/Patriots telecast from CBS to “Sunday Night Football” on NBC at the height of “Tebowmania” (yes, CBS also has an O&O in Denver).

To me, the strong favorite for the 2013-14 season opener would be Patriots/Ravens, as it should. But should CBS have a problem with that, then it’ll likely be Steelers/Ravens. I mean, it’s as if they’re destined to play another game on NBC this year by default, so you may as well upgrade it to a season kickoff game. And consider this: all four Steelers/Ravens games played on NBC over the last four seasons have been decided by a single field goal. The Ravens have won three of four, including the aforementioned road victories in Pittsburgh. NBC would be guaranteed a close game – which, in turn, equals great ratings.

And did I mention that the Patriots were actually flexed out of a few “Sunday Night Football” broadcasts?

It’ll probably be Big Ben Roethlisberger vs. “F—ing Awesome” Joe Flacco to kick off the 2013-14 season.

Or will it be Flacco vs. Tom Brady?

Which would you rather want as the 2013-14 season opener? Post your thoughts in the comments below.

Oh, Reilly? Rick Begs Credit For Big Ben Injury Scoop

ESPN’s Rick Reilly was caught on camera during the “Monday Night Football” postgame show, appealing to Stuart Scott that he give credit to Reilly for being “first on Twitter” with developing news on Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s shoulder injury during the game.

As nearly 13 million viewers witnessed what turned out to be a surprisingly competitive matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Pittsburgh Steelers – the Chiefs had led during regulation for the first time all season, but, alas, lost in overtime – they also saw star quarterback Ben Roethlisberger go down with a right shoulder injury in the third quarter.

As the remainder of the game played out, ESPN’s resident reporter/columnist/Norm MacDonald punching bag Rick Reilly was sending his hundreds of followers on Twitter updates on Big Ben’s injury, including one where he shared that he was “just guessing Roethlisberger was leaving to get an MRI.” Just to confirm, he reached out to a team spokesman who denied he was getting medical attention, then moments later did confirm via Big Ben’s agent that he was going to get his shoulder looked at.

To many journalists, such events aren’t a big deal. NFL players get hurt all the time. We assume they’re going to get treatment for their injuries.

But that wasn’t enough for Reilly. He thought the fact that he kept his Twitter followers updated on Roethlisberger’s status, he should be the Chris Broussard of this story.

And whoever was left of the 13 million “Monday Night Football” viewers got to see it for themselves.

On ESPN’s “MNF” postgame show, the host threw it back to Pittsburgh, where Reilly had joined Stuart Scott, Trent Dilfer and Steve Young to discuss Roethlisberger’s shoulder injury.

But, thanks to a premature cutaway, not before we see Reilly make this demand to Scott: “Will you say that I had this first on Twitter?”

At that moment: silence, microphone feedback, and a very pissed Young giving Reilly a “WTF” look.

Sure enough, Scott undeservedly told viewers, as he brought Reilly into the discussion: “You had it first on Twitter.”

Reilly obviously didn’t think the crew was back on the air yet – otherwise he probably wouldn’t have outed himself to millions of viewers.

If he really had pride in his reporting, Reilly wouldn’t need to beg for credit for the story as it was developing. Perhaps he would have started his on-air soliliquy with, “Yes, and as I first reported on Twitter, Ben Roethlisberger has been taken to a hospital…”

Pretty pathetic, if you ask me. This is bizarro plagiarism.

How bad is this? Mike Francesa, who thinks Twitter is so evil that famous people who use it should be put in jail, even thought Reilly went off the deep end Monday night.

Now that is pretty bad.

No mea culpa from a possibly terrified-inside Reilly on his coveted Twitter account on Tuesday. Just a tweet informing followers that the “Steelers are going to have to adjust to [backup quarterback Byron] Leftwich’s huge arm.”

That same day, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin officially ruled Roethlisberger as “questionable” for the team’s next game at Heinz Field against the division rival Baltimore Ravens, who currently lead the NFC North.

Fear not. The ESPN Minister Of Steelers Information has already ruled Big Ben out.

PA. NFL Network Viewers Denied Tebow Time

NFL Network viewers in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh - including Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley - were not able to view Friday night's Jets/Bengals broadcast, forcing Rich Eisen to address the odd situation via Twitter.

It’s as if the Keystone Kops were controlling the cable operations in the Keystone State.

On Friday night, as the New York Jets and Cincinnati Bengals were preparing for their first preseason action of the year – and Tim Tebow’s all-important first official snaps in a Jet uniform – many viewers of NFL Network instead were greeted with a replay of Thursday night’s Ravens/Falcons preseason tilt.

Including, for some reason, viewers in the Philadelphia area.

“Someone want to explain to me why NFL Network has a replay of the Falcons/Ravens game on and [not] Jets/Bengals?”, asked Dan Rodgers of Lower Merion, PA, moments after the game had started.

And Berwyn resident Stephane Hardinger expressed outrage, demanding: “I MUST SEE TIMOTHY TEBOW PLAY.”

Philadelphia was not alone in their lack of Tebow Time, as it appears NFLN viewers in Pittsburgh were also affected – including one LaMarr Woodley, who has only been the outside linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers for the last six years.

“What channel the Jets game on?,” he tweeted to his 133,000+ followers at around a quarter to 8 PM. Moments later, he would personally tweet NFL Network’s Twitter account seeking answers.

Even viewers from “the sticks of PA” chimed in expressing their incense of not being able to watch Tebow and Co.

In fact, viewers from Virginia to Indiana had been watching the replay of the Ravens’ 31-17 road rout of the Falcons instead of what would be the Bengals beating the Jets 17-6.

What went wrong?

No, not with Tim Tebow or Mark Sanchez, but with NFL Network’s apparent botching of this blackout in areas outside of New York – very far outside New York, it looks like.

Even though it’s only a preseason game, and despite the fact that the Jets were on the road in this preseason game, WCBS-TV, which carried the contest in New York, has requested the game be blacked out on NFLN in the greater New York metro.

Being situated in New York, I can confirm that I saw Ravens/Falcons on NFLN on Friday night. And when I flipped over during a commercial break on WCBS’ Jets/Bengals coverage to NFLN, for no particular reason, to watch day-old Ravens/Falcons footage, I saw Verizon FiOS insert a local ad break right in the middle of a drive.

I can understand if CBS asks for NFL Network – which was carrying WCBS’ feed of the game, thus may have lied within CBS’ request – to show alternate programming in New York so that more viewers would watch the Jets/Bengals game on WCBS’ air. (It’s moot, given that Time Warner and Cablevision, the two major cable companies in NYC, don’t even carry NFLN, but that’s beside the point.) As such, even viewers in Connecticut and New Jersey were affected by this blackout request. And so, NFLN, rather than just go dark for three hours, had beamed the Ravens/Falcons game to areas in New York City, as well as Connecticut and New Jersey.

Yet in NFLN’s infinite wisdom, this included South Jersey, which is Philadelphia Eagles territory. This caused a domino effect that spread to Philadelphia itself, and Pittsburgh, as well.

After about an hour of fielding Twitter complaints from several viewers – including the Super Bowl champion and one-time Pro Bowler LaMarr Woodley – NFL Network’s Rich Eisen was compelled to address the issue. “To the people of Pennsylvania, I have no earthly idea why you can’t see Jets/Bengals on @NFLNetwork,” he tweeted. The fact that the face of NFL Network had to tweet about this may be indicative of a veiled “mea culpa” on NFLN’s part for mishandling the blackout of Jets/Bengals in selected areas.

Just so I had all my bases covered, this morning, I spoke to Alicia, a representative from the service department at Comcast, the largest cable provider in Philadelphia, and she confirmed that, according to a colleague who was on duty Friday night, there were no issues central to Comcast with regards to blacking out NFLN or airing replacement programming, nor were there any customer complaints at that time.

Meanwhile, in an ironic twist, it appears viewers in Cincinnati – whose Bengals have been a repeated local television blackout victim during the regular season – were able to watch the WCBS-TV feed of Jets/Bengals on NFL Network on Friday night (that is, if they haven’t switched from Time Warner). Locally, Bengals preseason broadcasts are carried on WKRC-TV – and you’d have to wonder if there would have been similar issues, had NFLN opted for Brad Johansen’s call of the game. With Tim Tebow on the roster of the opposing team, probably not.

At any rate, NFL Network is scheduled to carry one more Jets preseason game this month, and it’s scheduled for next Saturday night against the crosstown rivals – and Super Bowl champions – the New York Giants. And it looks like for the second week in a row, NFLN will once again lean on the Jets’ local broadcast team. In fact, according to the schedules on both the Jets’ and Giants’ websites, it appears there’s not even going to be a Giants broadcasting crew handling the game on television. Yes, it’s considered a Jets home game, but did I mention the Giants just won the Super Bowl?

Anyway, it’ll be interesting to find out whether or not Philadelphia-area viewers will be complaining about how they’re watching a rebroadcast of Friday night’s Ravens/Lions game in lieu of Jets/Giants on Saturday night.

Likewise, we’ll also know if LaMarr Woodley – whose Steelers play both the Jets and Giants in the first half of their 2012-13 campaign – will miss out on viewing potential “game tape” as a result of another screwup at NFL Network.

He may have to go over to Culver City and punk someone.

NBC Brings Hines Ward Aboard

You can say Hines Ward is quite happy about his new gig as an NFL analyst for NBC. He'll start on "Football Night In America" on September 9, right before the team he retired from, the Pittsburgh Steelers, takes on the Denver Broncos.

After playing his entire NFL career with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Hines Ward has been drafted by a new team: NBC.

Ward, the wide receiver who played for fourteen years in Pittsburgh before calling it a career in March, will be starting his retirement from football the way many notable NFL players do: by becoming an NFL analyst. He’ll serve in that capacity, and much more, as part of a new contract with NBC Sports.

In what is being described as a “multi-year agreement,” Ward will not only appear regularly on the network’s marquee NFL highlights program, “Football Night In America,” he will also get plenty of face time on NBC’s cable property, NBC Sports Network, serving as an analyst on a weekly college football program on Saturdays (what are the odds that it’ll be called “College Football Night In America”?), and show up on the nightly “NBC Sports Talk” program for several days during the week.

Ward’s appearance during NBC’s 76-hour Super Bowl XLVI pregame show this year (it was actually six hours, but the singing NBC actors made it seem like 76) was an apparent audition for a regular spot on NBC’s NFL team. “I am really excited,” said Ward in a statement released by NBC. “It’s not every day that you get the chance to work for a powerhouse like the NBC Sports Group.” [It’s also not every day that popular athletes, let alone regular people, randomly refer to NBC Sports Group.]

“It is a big honor for me and I am looking forward to making the most of this great opportunity.”

And a timely one at that: when Ward reports for duty on “Football Night” for the first time on September 9, it will be prior to kickoff of his old team squaring off against Peyton Manning and his new team, the Broncos. The Steelers are also scheduled to play division rivals on NBC in Weeks 7 and 11, with the latter week carrying the possibility of being flexed – but with Week 11 being Ravens/Steelers, if I were a betting person, I’d bank on that one airing on NBC as scheduled.

Ward follows in the footsteps of another beloved Steelers legend, Jerome Bettis. The running back also joined NBC as an analyst upon his retirement, and became a member of the initial “Football Night” cast of characters. However, after three years, NBC decided that “the Bus” stopped there, and did not renew their contract with Bettis. In fact, it was after the 2009 season that NBC removed Bettis and Tiki Barber as “Football Night” analysts, replacing them with Tony Dungy and Rodney Harrison, who are expected to remain in those roles, even as NBC brings Ward aboard in 2012.

This is the second of two big NBC hires this month, and I’ll tell you why: they’re investing in one individual for being a regular on “Football Night In America” among other contributions in the sports arena (Ward); while in Michelle Beadle, they’re hiring someone to cover some sports and some entertainment criteria. See, NBC made a big mistake when they hired one person – Tiki Barber – to do both. It failed, miserably, and with these dual hires, they realize that.

You would have to think that WPXI, the NBC affiliate in Pittsburgh, is particularly proud that Hines Ward will now be part of the station’s on-air network personnel. I just hope they didn’t show him in a Ravens uniform when they broke the news.

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.

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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!