The NFL on Thursday released its '13 schedule and the Redskins are featured in five primetime games, "the maximum the league permits for any team," according to Rich Campbell of the WASHINGTON TIMES. It is a "form of validation for the Redskins’ growth as a program following their division title last season and their star power with QB Robert Griffin III." The Redskins open on "MNF" against the Eagles, which "indicates the league is convinced Griffin will be healthy and in the starting lineup" after suffering a knee injury in last year's playoffs. Campbell: "No disrespect to backup QB Kirk Cousins, but he’s not selling ads for ESPN in the first game of the Monday night doubleheader" (WASHINGTONTIMES.com, 4/18). In Seattle, Jayson Jenks notes the Patriots, 49ers and Broncos also are "scheduled to play in prime time five times." The Steelers, Packers, Falcons, and Seahawks will play in four primetime games (SEATTLE TIMES, 4/19).
'13 NFL PRIMETIME TV SCHEDULE
|1||Ravens-Broncos (NFL Kickoff)||Eagles-Redskins||none|
EXAMINING THE PRIMETIME SLATE: Former NBC Sports Group Chair Dick Ebersol said he believes the Thursday night schedule is the "very best schedule that the NFL has ever given the NFL Network, so it's nice to see that the in-house relationship is paying off." NFL Network’s Mike Mayock said of the net's Thursday night schedule, “The thing that caught my attention was our September slate, right out of the box.” Ebersol noted this is as "strong a 'Sunday Night' schedule as NBC has ever had, and the NFL has done a very good job for primetime this year." The Giants-Cowboys "SNF" game in Week 1 is "maybe based on television ratings," as that matchup is "probably the one fans love the most judged by the television ratings" (“Schedule Release ’13,” NFL Network, 4/18). ESPN's Trey Wingo said of Giants-Cowboys, “This is what we call eyeballs, ladies and gentlemen. No surprise there. These two have combined for some of the highest-rated shows ever on ‘Sunday Night Football.’” Meanwhile, ESPN's Mike Tirico said of the "MNF" slate, “These are great matchups but we have no idea what’s going to happen. The best matchups turn into the worst games, the worst matchups turn into the best games.” Though he did note of the Broncos' lone "MNF" game, a Week 3 game against the Raiders, "There are a lot of other teams that we would’ve liked to have seen go up against Peyton Manning" ("SportsCenter Special: NFL Schedule Release," ESPN2, 4/18).
PRIMETIME PLAYERS: In Indianapolis, Phillip Wilson writes the Colts' turnaround and QB Andrew Luck’s "sudden rise to stardom translated to four night games, the kind of prime-time respect the team used to receive" when Manning "was the star." Manning on Oct. 20 will return with the Broncos to "face his old team" on NBC’s "SNF" in "one of the most-anticipated matchups" of '13 (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 4/19). In Minneapolis, Dan Wiederer notes after only one primetime game last season, the Vikings are "registering as a strong draw for the under-the-lights TV slots." Last season's "surprising 10-6 surge into the playoffs and the presence" of RB Adrian Peterson helps, as the Vikings will play three primetime games (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 4/19). In St. Louis, Jim Thomas notes for "only the second time since 2004," the Rams have two primetime games. And for the "first time since 2002," those two primetime games are at home (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 4/19).
HITTING SOUTH BEACH: In Miami, Adam Beasley writes a year after getting "largely overlooked, the Dolphins will get plenty of national exposure in 2013" with three primetime games. The highlight is a "home affair with the Bengals on Halloween night, which will air on NFL Network." It is a "significant boost" for the Dolphins, who had just one primetime game in '12 on a Thursday night against the Bills in Buffalo. Perhaps "spurred by the splash" the team made in free agency, the NFL "granted the Dolphins three nighttime games for the first time since 2010" (MIAMI HERALD, 4/19). In West Palm Beach, Ben Volin writes the Dolphins are "back to being one of the NFL's sexy teams." The team could be "flexed" into extra primetime games if they "remain in the postseason hunt" (PALM BEACH POST, 4/19). Meanwhile, NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal wrote the Dolphins "can't be thrilled" with their schedule. They open with "two straight road games, and three of four before returning home for a date" with the Ravens. It will be "tough for the Dolphins to hit their Week 6 bye with a winning record" (NFL.com, 4/18).
FEELING SLIGHTED: In Detroit, Dave Birkett writes while they were a "popular choice for primetime games with four last year," the Lions have just one "MNF" game this season, "plus their annual Thanksgiving game." Lions President Tom Lewand in a town hall meeting for season-ticket holders earlier this month said that he was "excited about the possibility" of "MNF" returning to Ford Field (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 4/19). In Philadelphia, Paul Domowitch notes the Eagles have "only two" scheduled primetime games. The team last year "played five" primetime games, including two on Sunday night. But that is "what happens when you go 4-12" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 4/19). NFL.com's Rosenthal noted the Chiefs received "one primetime appearance, and it was against" coach Andy Reid's old team in the Eagles (NFL.com, 4/18).
WORDS FROM A LEGEND: Ebersol said what he "looked for as I put a schedule together were rivalry games, games where these teams just don't like each other and as a result they seldom disappoint." He also looks for "big brands" in terms of teams. Ebersol said of the Cowboys-Bears matchup in Week 14, "That's what you would call a great rivalry and great brands all together in one game. Pretty fantastic" ("Schedule Release '13," NFL Network, 4/18).