Event Previews

Huge weekend of football: An NFL playoff six-pack Saturday and Sunday; College title game Monday



To comply with Covid protocols, NBC had Mike Tirico work last night’s Bucs’ win over the Washingtonians from his home. Today, Tony Romo will do the same as the analyst on CBS’ coverage of the Chicago-New Orleans playoff matchup. Partner Jim Nantz will be on site.

It’s interesting to note that when NBC had compliance issues with Al Michaels a couple weeks ago, Tirico sat in for him from the game site. Michaels simply didn’t work.

This might just be one of the biggest weekends in football history. The three day marathon culminates Monday night with the college football championship. ESPN will again make the title game available through a multiple of options, from both video and audio perspectives. 

The NFL has six playoff games scheduled, three each, Saturday and Sunday. The NFL broadcasts will also expand its viewing platforms this Wildcard weekend. CBS and Nickelodeon will show the Chicago-New Orleans game Sunday with separate productions and Peacock, NBC’s streaming channel, will simulcast the Pittsburgh-Cleveland game on Sunday night. ESPN will megacast its Sunday Wildcard game, Baltimore at Tennessee.

Details and notes below.

NFL multicasts:

Jim Nantz and Tony Romo call the Chicago-New Orleans game traditionally on mainstream CBS. The NFL, CBS and Nickelodeon partner on a kids-friendly version of the game with Noah Eagle, Ian’s son, and Nate Burleson. The hope  is to educate kids on football. Noah himself is just a year past his college graduation from Syracuse.

Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth have the Washington-Tampa Bay game on Sunday night. The top NBC NFL team gets the Brady game because Sunday night historically generates television’s largest audience. NBC will also stream the playoff telecast on Sunday night, doing so on its Peacock platform. Michael Smith, Michael Holley and special guest Rich Eisen talk game highlights and playoff predictions.

On Sunday, ESPN runs a megacast for its playoff matchup, Baltimore at Tennessee; ESPN and ABC air a simulcast; ESPN2 will have five ESPN analysts break down the X’s and O’s; On Freeform, Jesse Palmer and Maria Taylor host a watch party; ESPN Deportes airs a Spanish language broadcast and ESPN+ will feature a mix of gambling and data and will also break down film with half a dozen personalities. Variety elaborated, “Freeform, best known for series such as “The Bold Type” and “Grown-ish,” will offer an experience tailored to a younger, female audience.”

Fox gets just one game this weekend, Los Angeles Rams at Seattle, and presents it as usual.


CBS TV has two playoff games this weekend and the the Super Bowl on February 7th. Nantz and Romo will preside from Tampa.

NFL ratings were down about 7% overall during the regular season. Other sports are down significantly more.

For Charles Davis, it is not his first playoff game. He did one when he was with Fox.

Unnecessary Sports Research has this data for the number of playoff games done by the three networks’ lead play-by-play voices: Al Michaels 61, Joe Buck 60 and Jim Nantz 54. Because of his age, 51, Joe Buck will likely finish with a lead that should be insurmountable.

Michaels will do the Super Bowl next year, 2022, the last season of his NBC contract. It will be played in his hometown, Los Angeles.

According to a New York Post report, Mike Tirico is being considered to succeed Doc Emrick, who retired as NBC’s NHL announcer. A trio of others are also in contention, Kenny Albert, Brandan Burke (Islanders’ announcer) and John Forslund. NBC’s NHL rights end after this season. Apparently, Fox and ESPN also want a part of the NHL. At this point, NBC has an exclusive. Albert also works for Fox.

For ESPN’s Steve Levy, Sunday is his first ever playoff telecast and biggest play-by-play assignment of his career. The ESPN booth will be the only one with three voices. Brian Griese and first year man, Louis Riddick join Smiling Steve.

Romo who works with Nantz from New Orleans on Sunday missed last weekend’s CBS telecast because of Covid protocol. Boomer Esiason filled in admirably.

If you’re wondering why there are six games this first playoff weekend, the NFL went from four to six to facilitate two more games. Kansas City and Green Bay get the two  byes.

Kevin Harlan has a couple network radio games this weekend, one on Saturday and one on Sunday. He’ll also do the Super Bowl again for Westwood.

The appreciated James Lofton whose NFL television work on CBS was praised through the season works radio with Kevin Kugler, They’ll have Chicago at New Orleans on Sunday.

Network Television – as listed (WEATHER IN PARENTHESIS)

Saturday, January 9

1: 00 p. m. – Indianapolis at BuffaloCBS – Ian Eagle and Charles Davis (low to mid 30s)
4:30 PM- Los Angeles at SeattleFox – Joe Buck and Troy Aikman (low to mid 40s)
8:15 PM- Tampa Bay at WashingtonNBC – Mike Tirico and Tony Dungy (mid 30s)
Sunday, January 10
1: 00 p.m. – Baltimore at Tennessee – ABC/ESPN – Steve Levy, Brian Griese and Louis Riddick (upper 30s)
4:30 p.m. Chicago at New Orleans –  CBS– Jim Nantz and Tony Romo (Dome)
8:15 p.m. Cleveland at Pittsburgh  – NBCAl Michaels and Cris Collinsworth (low 30s)
Network Radio – All Westwood One (Also available on SiriusXM):
Saturday, January 9
1: 00 p. m. – Indianapolis at Buffalo – John Sadak and Ross Tucker
4:30 PM- Los Angeles at Seattle –Ryan Radtke and Mike Holmgren
8:15 PM- Tampa Bay at Washington- Kevin Harlan and Ron Jaworski
Sunday, January 10
1: 00 p.m. – Baltimore at Tennessee – Brandon Gaudin, Rod Woodson
4:30 p.m. Chicago at New Orleans –  Kevin Kugler and  James Lofton
8:15 p.m. Cleveland at Pittsburgh  – Kevin Harlan and Tony Boselli
Network TV and Radio – College football Championship 
Monday, January 11
8:00 p.m. College Football Championship ESPN/Megacast– Alabama vs. Ohio State – Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit  (upper 60s to lower 70s). 
8: 00 p.m. Network radio ESPN – Sean McDonough and Todd Blackledge
Details of the college Megacast forthcoming Monday on these pages. Viewers will have many options on how to watch and how to listen including synced up video versions with local broadcasters of Ohio State and Alabama.
David J. Halberstam

David is a 40-year + industry veteran who served as play-by-play announcer for St. John's University basketball in New York and as radio play-by-play voice of the Miami Heat in South Florida. He is the author of Sports on New York Radio: A Play-by-Play History and The Fundamentals of Sports Media and Sponsorship Sales: Developing New Accounts.

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Michael Green
3 years ago

The record that Joe Buck will set makes me think of two people. One is Lindsey Nelson, who said he once did 54 football games in one year. I guess he was doing Notre Dame Saturday, CBS Sunday, Mutual Monday night, and playoffs for everybody! The other is Joe West–the umpire. Next season, he probably will break Bill Klem’s seemingly unbreakable record for most MLB games umpired. And he said his will stand because now they give umpires more time off during the season AND have a couple of crews handling replays in the New York office, so nobody is… Read more »