I hope to be doing this for you before each week of the NFL regular season and into the postseason. I’ll give you a few facts and pick a couple of games from each network to watch.
So let’s give you some quick viewing facts for the very first week of the 2012 NFL season in The League Where They Play. For Pay.
Which network has the doubleheader? — Fox. San Francisco at Green Bay is the main game at 4:25 p.m. going to 87% of the country.
What’s up with the 4:25 p.m. ET starts? — The NFL heard your complaints about cutting off the overruns from the 1 p.m. ET games for the start of the late games. Now you should be able to see those fantastic finishes without having the rug being pulled from under.
Blackouts? — Oh yes. In Tampa Bay. Oh, Tampa Bay. Pobre Tampa Bay.
CBS just has games at 1 p.m.? — Yes, it’s the usual U.S. Open coverage, but weather has wreaked havoc on the schedule, so instead of the men’s final, CBS will air the women’s final at 4:30 after the NFL.
Who is this Rob Riggle? — He joins Fox NFL Sunday replacing Frank Caliendo on the comic relief picks segment.
Anybody else new on Fox NFL Sunday? — Yes. Erin Andrews. You may have heard of her. She’ll be on the Fox NFL pregame show every week with a feature. This week, she interviews Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers.
How about The NFL Today on CBS? — Yup. Jason La Canfora, former insider on the NFL Network joins the Tiffany Network replacing the GM segment with Charley Casserly.
What happened to Charley Casserly? — Don’t cry for Charley, he’s on the NFL Network now.
Speaking of NFL Network, anything new with them on Sundays? — Where do we begin? They have a new 7 a.m. ET, yes, that’s 7 a.m. ET, pregame show called “First on the Field” hosted by Melissa Stark. Oh, and Chris Rose will be the host of the Sunday night shows, NFL Game Day Highlights and NFL Game Day Final.
Anyone new on the game broadcasts this year? — Mike Martz joins Fox. He’ll be teamed with Ron Pitts. And Heath Evans will work some games with Sam Rosen. CBS is pretty much status quo.
So is Michael Strahan going to be able to last the season being on Fox NFL Sunday and Live with Kelly and Michael? — Good question. Being bi-coastal with Live in New York and Fox NFL Sunday in LA isn’t going to be easy. Granted, this is not rocket science, but there has to be some wear-and-tear flying to-and-fro each week with no days off in between. We’ll see if Michael has some verbal gaffes late in the season.
So what are your Games of the Week? — In Week 1, just about every game is a Game of the Week, but narrowing it down, first on CBS: Indy at Chicago (Greg Gumbel/Dan Dierdorf) as Andrew Luck makes his NFL regular season debut and yes, Buffalo at New York Jets (Marv Albert/Rich Gannon) just to see when the quarterback controversy starts.
On Fox, I’ll go with Philadelphia at Cleveland (Dick Stockton/John Lynch/Jennifer Hale) of the early games because of my Browns and to see how quick a quagmire the team makes. Also, there’s San Francisco at Green Bay (Joe Buck/Troy Aikman/Pam Oliver) for the late game at 4:25 p.m. as Aaron Rodgers takes on his hometown team.
Anything else I should know? — Let’s see, Fox NFL Sunday has a new set which made its debut under Fox Soccer and Fox College Football. It’ll get its major use on NFL Sundays.
What about NBC? Anything new with the Peacock? — Hines Ward joins NBC and he’ll be at game sites with Bob Costas during Football Night in America and perhaps at halftime. Other than that, FNIA should remain the same. And NBC is not going to tinker with a formula that made Sunday Night Football the top rated primetime series last season, the first for a sports series.
And Monday? What about Monday Night Football? — Can’t forget about Monday. There’s a Week 1 AFC doubleheader with Cincinnati at Baltimore and San Diego at Oakland. MNF will have a two man booth with Mike Tirico and Jon Gruden. Ron Jaworski goes to the studio. Lisa Salters roams the sidelines. And yes, there’s Chris Berman calling his first-ever regular season game in Oakland. How many times will he say, “Da Ray-duhs”? We may have to do a drinking game. Twitter may explode with Berman calling the game, but overall, the ratings will still be good for the double dip. And Suzy Kolber will host Monday Night Countdown in place of Berman.
That is your Viewing Guide for NFL Week 1.