SBD/Issue 152/Sports Media

NFL Schedule: Jets Among Teams Poised To Be Primetime Fixtures

The NFL last night released its schedule for the '10 season, which kicks off Thursday, September 9, with Vikings-Saints on NBC. The following is a list of the primetime games airing on NBC, ESPN and NFL Network (THE DAILY).

 
NBC
ESPN
NFL NETWORK
Week 1 Vikings-Saints (Thursday) Ravens-Jets  
  Cowboys-Redskins Chargers-Chiefs  
Week 2 Giants-Colts Saints-49ers  
Week 3 Jets-Dolphins Packers-Bears  
Week 4 Bears-Giants Patriots-Dolphins  
Week 5 Eagles-49ers Vikings-Jets  
Week 6 Colts-Redskins Titans-Jaguars  
Week 7 Vikings-Packers Giants-Cowboys  
Week 8 Steelers-Saints Texans-Colts  
Week 9 Cowboys-Packers Steelers-Bengals  
Week 10 Patriots-Steelers Eagles-Redskins Ravens-Falcons (Thursday)
Week 11 Giants-Eagles Broncos-Chargers Bears-Dolphins (Thursday)
Week 12 Chargers-Colts 49ers-Cardinals Bengals-Jets (Thursday)
Week 13 Steelers-Ravens Jets-Patriots Texans-Eagles (Thursday)
Week 14 Eagles-Cowboys Ravens-Texans Colts-Titans (Thursday)
Week 15 Packers-Patriots Bears-Vikings 49ers-Chargers (Thursday)
Week 16 Chargers-Bengals Saints-Falcons Panthers-Steelers (Thursday)
      Cowboys-Cardinals (Saturday)
Week 17 TBD No Game No Game

SPOTLIGHT ON THE JETS: SI.com's Don Banks wonders if the NFL and its "omnipresent TV cameras ever swooned for anybody like the brash-talking Rex Ryan and his chest-thumping New York Jets?" The Jets will have a "major dose of prime time exposure," as they will play a league-high five primetime games, "including three in the regular season's first five weeks." Banks: "Mix in four more games that are currently slated for late-afternoon Sunday kickoffs, and thus eligible for mass distribution as a network's second half of a doubleheader, and the Jets will seemingly be everywhere, all the time in 2010." However, Banks notes the NFL the past two years has "shined its brightest spotlight on Cleveland (five primetime games in 2008) and Miami (four in 2009), and neither the Browns nor Dolphins lived up to that show of confidence by the league office," as they both missed the playoffs those seasons (SI.com, 4/21). Ryan: "We expect a lot of primetime games, because we're a team people want to watch." In N.Y., Mark Cannizzaro notes three of the Jets' five primetime appearances are home games, including a September 13 game against the Ravens that is the NFL's "first Monday night game of the season and the Jets' first game in their new stadium" (N.Y. POST, 4/21).

NFL Schedules 49ers In Four
Primetime Games This Season

POISED TO BREAK OUT? In Sacramento, Matthew Barrows notes the NFL has the 49ers "playing in prime time four times," and writes the league is "perhaps betting this is finally the season the 49ers break a seven-year playoff drought." Meanwhile, the Raiders are not scheduled to play a primetime game "for the first time since the 2007 season" and for "only the second time since the 1970 merger" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 4/21). SPORTINGNEWS.com's Mike Florio wrote it appears the "powers-that-be believe the Niners will make a serious run at taking over the top of the NFC West, given the retirement" of Cardinals QB Kurt Warner (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 4/20). In S.F., David White writes, "The 49ers want to be the team to beat in the NFC West. Thanks to the wonders of color TV, they'll at least be the team to watch" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 4/21). But YAHOO SPORTS' Chris Chase wrote the 49ers are the '10 winner "of the 'team that parlayed a decent previous season into way too many primetime appearances the following year' award." Chase: "There's one every year. Last year it was Miami. The year before, Cleveland" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 4/20). 

PACKED WITH INTRIGUE: In Green Bay, Rob Demovsky notes the Packers coming off an 11-5 season were scheduled for four primetime games, "one more night game than they did a year ago." The Packers also were scheduled for two Sunday late-afternoon window games "that could be seen by most or all of the country." Packers President & CEO Mark Murphy: "Nationally, I think we're viewed as an attractive team. Tie that in with the Colts preseason game (on ESPN), and that's five national TV games. It's exciting" (GREEN BAY PRESS-GAZETTE, 4/21). ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert wrote, "Think the Packers aren't marketable? The NFL has put them in its premier time slot -- on Sunday night -- three times" (ESPN.com, 4/20). 

AFC POWERS: In Pittsburgh, Gerry Dulac notes despite missing the playoffs last season with a 9-7 record, the Steelers "remain a prime-time attraction" for the NFL, as they "will play the maximum five night games this season, including three in a row" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 4/21). In Boston, Ian Rapoport notes fans "across the country will see much of" the '10 Patriots season, as the team also "will be on national TV five times," including a Thanksgiving day game against the Lions (BOSTON HERALD, 4/21). In Baltimore, Jamison Hensley noted the Ravens "play four nationally televised games, three of which come in the second half of the season." Ravens President Dick Cass: "It's a challenging schedule, and with the number of primetime games, it's flattering. We've made the playoffs two years in a row -- and three of the last four seasons -- and it's evident that the NFL believes we will be highly competitive again." Cass added, "If you look at the last three games of the new schedule, you can see that we’ll be playing significant games that could be candidates for a move to Sunday night" (BALTIMORESUN.com, 4/20).

Shanahan (l), McNabb Help Redskins Garner
National Attention Coming Off Down Year

RETURN TO RELEVANCY: ESPN.com's Matt Mosley noted the Redskins are scheduled to play "three prime-time games and five on national television" this upcoming season despite coming off a 4-12 season last year. Mosley: "Coach Mike Shanahan has made the Redskins relevant again" (ESPN.com, 4/20). Meanwhile, in Philadelphia, Les Bowen notes Redskins QB Donovan McNabb will make his return to the city for the October 3 Redskins-Eagles game, which will kick off at 4:15pm ET. Bowen: "It's a little surprising that McNabb's homecoming won't be a prime-time game; maybe the networks don't see the Eagles and Redskins as top-of-the-marquee-type teams" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 4/21). Meanwhile, CBSSPORTS.com's Clark Judge wrote under the header, "McNabb-Philly Reunion Ranks As No. 1 Must-See Game" (CBSSPORTS.com, 4/20). NFL Network's Michael Lombardi: "That'll be the hardest ticket to get in Philadelphia. Not because they all want to see the game, because there's a long line of people who want to boo him at the game" (NFL Network, 4/20).

BACK IN THE LIMELIGHT: In Houston, John McClain notes the Texans "for the first time in franchise history" will play "three prime-time games, including two on ESPN and one on the NFL Network." However, the Texans "again ... were shut out by NBC," and the NFL "didn't grant the request" by Texans Owner Bob McNair and Jets Owner Woody Johnson to schedule the Texans-Jets game for Thanksgiving night on NFL Network (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 4/21). In Atlanta, D. Orlando Ledbetter noted "MNF" is returning "to Atlanta after a two-year hiatus," as the Falcons will host their first "MNF" game since a game against the Saints in December '07. The team will make "two national television appearances" (AJC.com, 4/20). But in Buffalo, Allen Wilson notes the Bills "do not have a prime-time game for the first time since 2006," and all 16 games have a 1:00pm ET start (BUFFALO NEWS, 4/21).

FLEXING THEIR MUSCLES: SPORTINGNEWS.com's Florio wrote the "SNF" slate of games is "so good that NBC likely won't want to move many of them." The "only contest that looks to be destined to be bumped out of the evening slot" is the December 26 Chargers-Bengals game. However, Florio noted ESPN pays "more than $1[B] per year to televise 17 prime-time games," and they "continue to get something less than a billion-dollar slate of games." The "MNF" schedule has "little genuine sizzle," and while the 13 divisional games ESPN has "can generate high interest among the fan bases of the two teams involved, a schedule befitting the price tag would feature more eyebrow-raisers like Ravens-Jets and Vikings-Jets" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 4/20). YAHOO SPORTS' Chase ranked the "five (potentially) worst prime-time games on the 2010 NFL schedule," ignoring the Thursday night games on NFL Net. Chase ranked the October 18 "MNF" Titans-Jaguars game as the worst. Chase: "It's hard to imagine that in the 41-year history of Monday Night Football there have been many games scheduled between two teams that both failed to break .500 the previous season" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 4/20).

TOUGH PROCESS: NFL Senior VP/Broadcasting Howard Katz, who oversees the scheduling process, in an online chat noted ESPN, NBC and NFL Network "make request[s] for individual teams," while CBS and Fox "let us know which games they don't want to lose." Katz: "We try to balance the request and come up with interesting and compelling games for primetime and try to maintain a balance of the games that would have come off from CBS and Fox." Katz also noted some teams "love to play in primetime games, and ask for more," while other teams "don't like primetime games and ask for fewer." Katz: "We take those into consideration but try to do what is best for the league" (NFL.com, 4/20).

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