“NBC Sunday Night Football,” in its third season as the NFL’s premier primetime package, heads to San Diego for a game that will determine the NFL’s final playoff berth as Phillip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers (7-8) host Jay Cutler and the Denver Broncos (8-7) in a game where one team will capture the AFC West title and advance to the playoffs and the other’s season will end. Al Michaels (play-by-play), John Madden (analyst) and Andrea Kremer (sideline reporter) call the action. Coverage on NBC begins at 7 p.m. ET with “Football Night in America,” with Bob Costas (host), Cris Collinsworth (co-host) Keith Olbermann (co-host), Dan Patrick (co-host), Jerome Bettis (analyst), Tiki Barber (analyst) and Peter King (reporter).
SUNDAY NIGHT’S PANTHERS-GIANTS DRAWS BIG NUMBERS: Sunday Night’s Panthers-Giants game drew 18.9 million viewers, a gain of 34 percent over the comparable game last year (Washington-Minnesota, 14.1 million on 12-23-07) and registered an 11.5 national rating and 19 share a gain of 32 percent from last year’s game (8.7/16). SNF powered NBC to a Sunday Night win among all key ratings measurements.
SNF AVERAGING 17.0 MILLION VIEWERS: NBC’s 15 “Sunday Night Football” broadcasts this season are averaging 17.0 million viewers a seven percent gain from last year’s 15.9 million. The 10.4/16 household rating is a four percent up from last year (10.0/16).
BRONCOS-CHARGERS IN PRIMETIME: The Chargers are making their third appearance on SNF this season. In Week 6 they defeated the Patriots 30-10 and in Week 12 lost to the Colts 23-20. They are 5-2 overall since the NFL’s premier primetime package moved to NBC in 2006. The Broncos are making their first SNF appearance this season and are 3-2 overall on “Sunday Night Football.” These two teams met on SNF in Week 11 of the 2006 season with the Chargers defeating the Broncos 35-27 in Denver.
BRONCOS VS. CHARGERS: The Broncos hold a 53-43-1 edge in the series that dates back to 1960 for these original AFL franchises. The Broncos won the first meeting this season, in the 39-38 controversial victory in Week 2. Prior to this season the Chargers had won four straight games in the series.
MADDEN ON THE MATCHUP: “San Diego is one of those teams that were picked as one of the Super Bowl favorites. Then they go down and you think they’re out but they’re not. They come back and have a chance for the division on Sunday against the Broncos.”
COLLINSWORTH ON BRONCOS: “Denver had a three game lead with three to play and now it comes down to winning it on the field of play because of the Broncos mistakes. Jay Cutler has been so sensational for this team but they have no running game to speak of. They’re defense has been decimated and he’s been asked to carry this football team.”
COLLINSWORTH ON BRONCOS-CHARGERS: “These two teams will go at it and play for the division title and probably the happiest guy on the planet is Ed Hochuli because his call will not decide this division.”
“SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL EXTRA”: Each “Sunday Night Football” game is available on NBC as well as streamed live on NFL.com and NBCSports.com, marking the first time complete NFL games will be widely available in the U.S. via live online streaming.
The live NFL.com and NBCSports.com coverage comes from NBC’s TV coverage of Sunday Night Football. Complementing that stream are a number of extra features to enrich the viewing experience including additional camera angles, in-game highlights, picture-in-picture technology, live statistics and other interactive elements. “Sunday Night Football Extra” also includes in-game studio updates from NBC’s “Football Night in America” team and NFL Network.
ROTOWORLD.COM’S WEEK 17 SLEEPER PICKS: Rotoworld.com managing editor Gregg Rosenthal, who was named 2007 Fantasy Football Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association, picks his fantasy sleepers for Week 17.
1. Tyler Thigpen, Chiefs QB vs. Bengals: “Can we even call Thigpen a sleeper anymore? His frenetic style, especially his running ability, will carry teams in Week 17.”
2. Gary Russell, Steelers RB vs. Browns: “Look for the backups in Pittsburgh to play a lot. Russell could make his name with a big last week effort like Willie Parker did in 2004.”
3. Ahmad Bradshaw, Giants RB vs. Vikings: “Minnesota isn’t the same without Pat Williams. And Brandon Jacobs is unlikely to play much for New York this week.”
4. Darren McFadden, Raiders RB vs. Bucs: “McFadden’s role in the offense has increased, while Tampa’s defense is falling apart.”
5. Tony Scheffler, Broncos TE vs. Chargers: “Look for a lot of points on Sunday night. San Diego is the worst team in the league against tight ends.”
SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Al Michaels, the commentator called “TV’s best play-by-play announcer” by the Associated Press, is joined in the “Sunday Night Football” booth by John Madden, the most honored NFL broadcaster of all time with 16 Emmy Awards, and on the sidelines by Andrea Kremer, whom the Los Angeles Times has called “the best TV interviewer in the business of covering the NFL.”
“FOOTBALL NIGHT IN AMERICA”: The Washington Post calls NBC’s “Football Night in America” studio show the “Gold Standard” of NFL studio shows and “must-see television for NFL fans.” Bob Costas, the most honored studio host of all time with 19 Emmy Awards, hosts “Football Night in America” alongside co-host Cris Collinsworth, the most honored studio analyst in history; co-host Keith Olbermann, named one of the Top Ten Most Powerful People in TV News for 2007 by Television Week; newcomer and co-host Dan Patrick, reuniting him with Olbermann who together redefined sports highlights during their time together on ESPN’s SportsCenter from 1992-97; and analysts Tiki Barber, a three-time NFL Pro Bowler for the New York Giants, and Jerome Bettis, one of the most popular players in recent NFL history. Peter King, who covers the NFL for Sports Illustrated and is considered one of the country’s foremost NFL reporters, serves as a reporter for the “Football Night in America” studio show.