(Long Island, NY) It used to be that you needed a program to find out all the roster changes on the teams in the first week of the NFL season. Now you also need a TV Guide to find out what channel to catch the games.
The new NFL season kicks off this week on Thursday evening on NBC. The Peacock Network is back and will also take over the Sunday night telecast from ESPN. The reigning Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers host the Miami Dolphins. For some fans, it still feels like a pre-season game before Sunday.
Get your cooler and chip bowls filled for a full day of gridiron action on Sunday. At 1 p.m. on CBS, the Jets travel down to Tennessee to face the Titans. Gang Green may have settled down their quarterback situation by naming Chad Pennington the starter and trading Brooks Bollinger to Minnesota. But the Titans’ QB story became more confusing in the past week. Billy Volek was the starter going into training camp to keep first round draft pick Vince Young’s seat warm. Then Tennessee signed veteran Kerry Collins, and Volek is looking for a trade.
Some other early games of note are Cincinnati at Kansas City (CBS) and Atlanta at Carolina (Fox). [The conferences will remain on the same networks]. Can Carson Palmer come back from a brutal knee injury suffered in last years’ playoffs? How will Herman Edwards do in his first year as Chiefs head coach after leaving the Jets? How about Michael Vick and new defensive stud John Abraham getting a good divisional match-up to start things off?
At 4:15, Fox gives us Dallas visiting Jacksonville. Will Terrell Owens erase much of the negativity from camp? Can the Jaguars have another good season behind Byron Leftwich?
The barn burner is the 8:15 prime-time battle of the brothers Manning. NBC starts their weekly coverage with a great game that has received much of the opening week hype. Peyton leads his Indianapolis Colts to the Meadowlands to take on younger sibling Eli and the Giants. Besides the obvious, this is a game between two division winners from last year.
Did you make it to Monday? You should strap in for not one, but two games. ESPN takes over Monday Night Football from ABC, and gives us Minnesota at Washington at 7 p.m., followed by a 10:15 kick off with San Diego traveling up to Oakland. MNF will carry one game after the opening week, starting a half hour earlier from the usual 9 p.m. ABC time.
The NFL Network gets into the action with Thursday night telecasts starting on Thanksgiving, and continuing through the season. Saturday nights are mixed in later in the season to replace a few Thursdays.
The wrinkle in the NBC Sunday night coverage is that they will have flexible scheduling in weeks 10-15 and the final game in week 17. This allows for the more favorable match-ups. NBC gets to choose the game from a previously scheduled Sunday afternoon scheduled match, and they must give 12 days notice to the league. This way they ensure a marquee game and allow some of the surprise teams a shot at national coverage.
The NFL is not the best professional league for nothing. If there is a way to improve perfection, these changes are a good example of that.