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2012 NFL Broadcasting Guide

We are a nation that debates everything except this: We love the NFL.It unites us like no other television programming. Last year NFL games were watched by an average of 17.5 million viewers -- the NFL's second highest viewership average since 1989 -- and accounted for 23 of the 25 most-watched TV shows among all programming and the 16 most-watched shows on cable last fall. A record 37 NFL game telecasts averaged at least 20 million viewers -- topping the previous mark set last year (35) and up from 16 in 2006.

So everyone is watching football, but who is watching those who broadcast the sport you love? That's where we come in. Here's SI.com's NFL broadcasting guide to the 2012 season:

PREGAME

The NFL Today -- James Brown (host), Bill Cowher (analyst), Boomer Esiason (analyst), Dan Marino (analyst), Shannon Sharpe (analyst), Jason La Canfora (information), and Lesley Visser (reporter).

BROADCAST TEAMS

1. Jim Nantz (play by play) and Phil Simms (analyst).

2. Greg Gumbel (play by play) and Dan Dierdorf (analyst).

3. Ian Eagle (play by play) and Dan Fouts (analyst).

4. Marv Albert (play by play) and Rich Gannon (analyst).

5. Kevin Harlan (play by play) and Solomon Wilcots (analyst).

6. Bill Macatee (play by play) and Steve Tasker (analyst).

7. Spero Dedes (play by play ) and Steve Beuerlein (analyst).

WHAT'S NEW:

• La Canfora replaces Charley Casserly as the lead information broker on CBS. "Charley did a great job for us," said CBS Sports president Sean McManus. "I think he'll do a really good job for the NFL Network. We were looking for someone who could contribute to all of our platforms and Jason has the energy, exuberance and the 24-hour commitment. I talked to coaches and owners around the league, and I watched what he was doing. I saw how many stories he was on top of, and he looked to me the ideal candidate. He literally lives and breathes the NFL 24 hours a day."

• CBS is making a move on ESPN's terrain by featuring seven days of cable programming (on the CBS Sports Network) next year from Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans. The network also will debut a new hour-long show ("NFL Monday Q") Sept. 10 on the CBS Sports Network, featuring Simms, Gannon, Beuerlein and host Adam Schein.

"It's tough to have a viable cable network without regular NFL programming and this is the first of what I hope will be many announcements," said McManus. "Traditionally, CBS Sports has basically covered the Super Bowl on Sunday. We'd do a little programming on Saturday and then 10 or 11 hours of coverage on Sunday. I can promise you this year we will do seven complete days of coverage, almost 24/7."• CBS will broadcast Super Bowl XLVII from New Orleans on Feb. 3, 2013. It's always a big year for the network that broadcasts the title game.

WHAT'S OLD

• Super Bowl XLVII marks the seventh time Simms will serve as the Super Bowl television analyst. But here's something even more remarkable: Super Bowl XLVII will mark Esiason's 13th title game as an analyst on the radio side. Only Hank Stram has done more Super Bowls as a radio color commentator.

• Stability in its broadcasting teams and studio show, especially with the top three announcing teams. On this end, we note here that Eagle and Fouts are the most underrated broadcasting team in the NFL, deftly mixing humor and insight weekly.

BEST GAMES (all games ET)

Bills at Jets (Sept. 9, 1 p.m.), Ravens at Eagles (Sept. 16, 1 p.m.), Jets at Steelers (Sept. 16, 4:15 p.m.), Chiefs at Saints (Sept. 23, 1 p.m.), Raiders at Broncos (Sept. 30, 4:05 p.m.), Broncos at Patriots (Oct. 7, 4:05 p.m.), Bills at Niners (Oct. 7, 4:05 p.m.), Jets at Patriots (Oct. 21, 4:15 p.m.), Steelers at Giants (Nov. 4, 4:15 p.m.), Broncos at Panthers (Nov. 11, 1:00 p.m.), Bills at Patriots (Nov. 11, 1 p.m.), Texans at Lions (Nov. 22, 12:30 p.m.), Ravens at Chargers (Nov. 25, 4:05 p.m.), Steelers at Ravens (Dec. 2, 4:15 p.m.), Broncos at Ravens (Dec. 16, 1 p.m.), Steelers at Cowboys (Dec. 16, 4:15 p.m.), Jets at Bills (Dec. 30, 1 p.m.), Chiefs at Ravens (Dec. 30, 4:15 p.m.).

BURNING QUESTIONS

SI.com: What differentiates The NFL Today from other studio shows?

McManus: The personalities. Listen, I think all four shows are extremely well done and have wonderful personalities. But I think we have been able to find a very good mix between light-hearted camaraderie and hardcore football analysis. I think that is the secret to it. I watch all the NFL pregame shows and I enjoy them all. But I think we have the best mix.

SI.com: Is there one player who really interests you this season in terms of performance?

Cowher: "I'm really curious about [Patriots receiver] Brandon Lloyd. It's the first time Tom Brady has had an outside receiver in a long time. That's a guy I'm interested in to see if he can be a difference-maker.

OBLIGATORY PEYTON MANNING COMMENT

"The expectation level for Peyton is unrealistic because of what we think about the old Peyton. He has not played for a year. I think if his nerve comes back he will be a better quarterback in November than he is in September. I think all of the attention in the first couple of games will be about whether he can take a hit. Can he stay healthy? Will he have velocity on his throws in December? I think if he is able to do that, I think they will be in the hunt. They have a good defense and they are in a good division." - Cowher.

NUMBERS TO KNOW

CBS has sold 85 percent of its Super Bowl commercial inventory, with pricing as high as $3.8 million for a 30-second ad.

MUST FOLLOW ON TWITTER

One of the league's ultimate insiders, La Canfora is an essential follow for NFL fans.

PREGAME

Sunday NFL Countdown -- Chris Berman (host), Cris Carter (analyst), MikeDitka (analyst), Merrill Hoge (analyst), Tom Jackson (analyst), Ron Jaworski (analyst), Keyshawn Johnson (analyst), Suzy Kolber (host), Chris Mortensen (information/reporter), Adam Schefter (information/reporter), Josina Anderson (reporter), Bob Holtzman (reporter), Rachel Nichols (reporter), Sal Paolantonio (reporter), and Ed Werder (reporter), Kenny Mayne (features).

MONDAY PREGAME

Monday Night Countdown -- Berman, Carter, Trent Dilfer (analyst), Ditka, Jackson, Johnson, Mortensen, Lisa Salters (reporter), Stuart Scott (host), Steve Young (analyst), and Schefter.

MONDAY BROADCAST

Monday Night Football -- Mike Tirico (play-by-play), Jon Gruden (analyst), Salters (reporter).

WHAT'S NEW• The major change is elevating Gruden. He is now the lone analyst on Monday Night Football and the face of the show. "Jon is a unique talent and has a lot to offer," said Monday Night Football producer Jay Rothman. "You'll see there's really no three-man booth out there in terms of football coverage, really in NFL or college football. It's very difficult in a game with a play clock and the short window in which you dissect the game and analyze the game, that sort of thing. It's cluttered. That's why you don't really see it. I think this allows for more space and it allows for us to be more precise and on point. It allows us to showcase Jon's and Mike's talents, and we think it's the right move."• Jaworski shifts to work across a number of NFL outlets, including Sunday NFL Countdown, where producers will incorporate him into discussions with the regular staffers. Hoge and Kolber also join the morning show. ESPN wants to get Dilfer as much exposure as possible, so he moves full-time to Monday Night Countdown. Bill Parcells will no longer appear on Sunday Morning Countdown.

• Given the success FOX has had with rules analyst Mike Pereira -- and how much NFL referees are in the news at the start of the season -- ESPN has brought in retired football official Gerry Austin as an analyst. He will be in the booth with Gruden and Tirico and might appear on-camera if the situation warrants it.

"It has frustrated Jon the amount of time we've spent talking about rules and I've come around to agree with Jon," Tirico said. "It's a drag on the momentum of the game. To have as great an expert as Gerry Austin, with his on-field experience, to pop in when something happens to explain, clearly, concisely what is going on, is a great addition to our Monday Night season."

• Dilfer continues to get more airtime. This is good.

WHAT'S OLD

• Tebow programming. Our fear, as always, is that Bristol can't quit its Tebow addiction. We'll see how much the Jets backup gets talked about on Sundays during the opening weeks.

• It's heartening to see ESPN management invest in its Fantasy Football Now studio show. The show has expanded to two hours this fall (11 a.m.-1 p.m. on ESPN2) and is arguably the best studio show out there.

BEST GAMES (all times 8:30 ET p.m.)

Broncos at Falcons (Sept. 17), Bears at Cowboys (Oct. 1), Texans at Jets (Oct. 8), Broncos at Chargers (Oct. 15), Lions at Bears (Oct. 22), Eagles at Saints (Nov. 5), Chiefs at Steelers (Nov. 12), Bears at Niners (Nov. 19), Panthers at Eagles (Nov. 26), Falcons at Lions (Dec. 22).

BURNING QUESTIONS

SI.com: How concerned are you that Jon will return to coaching?Tirico: I'm still waiting for the 30 or so guarantees that said he was going back into coaching. I'm waiting for those people to say they were not right. Jon, at some point, will go back. I don't know what that point is. I don't know if he knows what that point is. But instead of living in potentially tomorrow land, I live in the present.

"Do I want him to go back? Hell, no. I love his company and he's become one of my better friends. There are few days that go by where we don't talk. I don't want him to go back but I want him to be happy. I think when this started, very few people thought he would be doing it for this long and here we are in Year Four. Will Jon be coaching in 2013? I have no earthly idea. But given where his temperature has been the last couple of years, I think the chances are good that he will be around with us."

SI.com: If you had to give Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III some advice, what would that be?

Gruden: Just try to show steady improvement. Don't try to play outside yourself. Try to learn this offense. Trust Mike Shanahan. Trust this system. It's a proven system that works. Take care of yourself. Just be careful when you're scrambling. You're going to create a lot of plays with your legs, but try to learn a little bit from Michael Vick. You don't want to take too many hits unnecessarily. You want to be on the practice field on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. That's key for his development. So trust Mike Shanahan, lead the team in effort, be there early, be there late, set a tone, and just trust your God-given ability, because you've got a lot of it.

OBLIGATORY PEYTON MANNING COMMENT

"I hate to be a devil's advocate, but I think the schedule is tough. The battery of [Colts long-time offensive coordinator] Tom Moore, [former Colts center] Jeff Saturday, [former Colts line coach] Howard Mudd, the men that trained him and helped develop him and put that offense in for him are no longer with him. I think he's doing a lot of things on his own from installing the offense to calling the offense to executing the offense. He's going to have to do it with a very short period of time and a lot of young players around him. So I think it's going to be a little bit more of a struggle than people remember. But I do think physically he's back, he's quick, he looks natural to me behind the center. I think a realistic expectation is 8-8 if you ask me." - Gruden.

NUMBERS TO KNOW

ESPN's Monday Night Football was the most-watched series on cable for the sixth straight year, with an average of 13.3 million viewers.

MUST FOLLOW ON TWITTER

Schefter's Twitter empire has reached nearly two million followers, a remarkable number for an information gatherer. Honestly, you can't go wrong with any of ESPN's NFL types, from Chris Mortensen to John Clayton to Trey Wingo to Matthew Berry.

PREGAME

FOX NFL Sunday -- Curt Menefee (co-host), Terry Bradshaw (co-host), Howie Long (analyst), Jimmy Johnson (analyst), Michael Strahan (analyst), Jay Glazer (reporter), Mike Pereira (rules analyst) and Rob Riggle (comedian), Pam Oliver (reporter).

BROADCAST TEAMS

1. Joe Buck (play-by-play), Troy Aikman (analyst) and Pam Oliver (sideline).

2. Kenny Albert (play-by-play), Daryl Johnston (analyst), Tony Siragusa (sideline).

3. Thom Brennaman (play-by-play), Brian Billick (analyst) and Laura Okmin (sideline).

4. Dick Stockton (play-by-play), John Lynch (analyst) and Jennifer Hale (sideline).

5. Chris Myers (play by play),Tim Ryan (analyst), Jamie Maggio (sideline).

6. Sam Rosen (play-by-play), Heath Evans (analyst).

7. Ron Pitts (play-by-play), Mike Martz (analyst).

WHAT'S NEW• Former NFL head coach and offensive coordinator Mike Martz and former NFL fullback Heath Evans have joined the roster as game analysts. It will be interesting to see if Martz is serious about broadcasting for the long haul. He signed a two-year deal. "Mike is a brilliant coach and he has amazing insight; he says really interesting things," said FOX Sports president Eric Shanks. "Anytime a guy comes fresh into a booth, there are a lot of buttons to push and you have to figure out a way how you are going speak to people at home and get your thoughts out succinctly... I think once he gets some reps under him, he could be one of those relevant, interesting voices calling games in the NFL."

• Erin Andrews, who is hosting FOX's college football studio show, gets sideline duties on Thanksgiving Day and will also work during the network's NFC playoff coverage. Hale and Maggio were also added as sideline reporters. Chad Pennington and Jim Mora Jr. (who is now coaching UCLA) did not return to the network.

• FOX says for the first time in 19 years, it will update its stage setup on FOX NFL Sunday. It'll also introduce a new graphics tracking system that tracks players on the field and follows them in real-time, where you can identify them on wide camera shots. Two banks of eight unmanned cameras are set up high in-stadium at adjacent 35-yard lines; the cameras track all moving objects and technicians identify and tag players by number. "Say when Troy is talking about a particular matchup on the left side of the field, those guys' names will pop up and you can follow them," said Shanks. "It's kind of like the pointers for our NASCAR cars. I think it will be one of most helpful innovations that we have come up with since the first-down line."

• Rob Riggle joins FOX as the new in-house comedian, replacing Frank Caliendo.

WHAT'S OLD

• Well, the combined age of Bradshaw, Long and Johnson is 172. But it's a young-at-heart group and a tight bunch: Bradshaw and Long have been with the show since its debut in 1994 and this year marks Johnson's 13th season on the show.

• Here's hoping his bosses recognize the steady improvement from Menefee, who has become a solid studio host. The top three broadcasting teams remain unchanged, which isn't good for those of us who have to endure Siragusa's schtick. • FOX says Gus Johnson will once again call NFL games later in the year, after his college football schedule has concluded.

BEST GAMES

Niners at Packers (Sept. 9, 4:15 p.m.), Saints at Panthers (Sept. 16, 1 p.m.), Cowboys at Seahawks (Sept. 16, 4:15 p.m.), Lions at Titans (Sept. 23, 1 p.m.), Niners at Jets (Sept. 30, 1 p.m.); Saints at Packers (Sept. 30, 4:15 p.m.), Eagles at Steelers (Oct. 7, 1 p.m.), Lions at Eagles (Oct. 14, 1 p.m.); Cowboys at Ravens (Oct, 14, 4:15 p.m.); Giants at Niners (Oct. 14, 4:15 p.m.); Falcons at Eagles (Oct. 28, 1 p.m.), Giants at Cowboys (Oct. 28, 4:15 p.m.), Falcons at Saints (Nov. 11, 1 p.m.), Cowboys at Eagles (Nov. 11, 4:15 p.m.), Packers at Lions (Nov. 18, 1 p.m.), Redskins at Cowboys (Nov. 22, Thanksgiving, 4:15 p.m.), Niners at Saints (Nov. 25, 4:15 p.m.), Bucs at Broncos (Dec. 2, 4:05 p.m.), Falcons at Panthers (Dec. 9, 1 p.m.), Saints at Giants (Dec. 9, 4:15 p.m.), Packers at Bears (Dec. 16, 1 p.m.), Giants at Falcons (Dec. 16, 1 p.m.), Saints at Cowboys (Dec. 23, 1:00 p.m.), Giants at Ravens (Dec. 23, 1 p.m.), Bears at Lions (Dec. 30, 1 p.m.), Eagles at Giants (Dec. 30, 1 p.m.), Panthers at Saints (Dec. 30, 1:00 p.m.).

BURNING QUESTIONS

SI.com: How long will replacement referees last?

Pereira: For the good of the game, we deserve to have the best players on the field and we deserve as fans to have the best officials on the field, too. You can say that people don't go to see officials work and that is true, but then again we don't have a game without officials. They are a hugely important part of this game. How long will it go? With the lines drawn in the sand right now, I think it will go two, three, four weeks of the regular season. The problems that we have seen in the preseason will be magnified when the regular season starts because speed will pick up dramatically and the intensity will be super-charged up from preseason football.

SI.com: How will Michael Strahan balance his FOXNFL Sunday duties (a show based in Los Angeles) with his daily responsibilities as the co-host of Live! With Kelly (a show based in New York City)?

FOX Sports Executive Producer John Entz: There is no doubt in anyone's mind here. He loves to work and whatever comes his way, he will be up for it. We're just excited that he is coming back on Sundays.

OBLIGATORY PEYTON MANNING COMMENT

"I don't think Peyton is 100 percent and I don't know that he will ever get back to where he once was. But watching him in practice and in the preseason, I think he will put together a great year. I like the young players they have. If they don't win the Super Bowl, some will view it as a disappointment. When the goal is only Super Bowl-or-bust, that's hard no matter who you are. But if this team is not in contention in January, I will be surprised." - Aikman.

NUMBERS TO KNOW

FOX's Sunday national telecast was the most-watched show among all programs, with an average of 25.8 million viewers.

MUST FOLLOW ON TWITTER

Rules analyst Mike Pereira gets Twitter. He engages fans on officiating questions, even occasionally tweeting from weddings.

PREGAME

Football Night In America -- Bob Costas (host), Dan Patrick (co-host), Tony Dungy (analyst), Rodney Harrison (analyst), Hines Ward (analyst), Mike Florio (information), Peter King (reporter and SI.com football writer).

BROADCAST

Sunday Night Football -- Al Michaels (play-by-play), Cris Collinsworth (analyst) and Michele Tafoya (sideline reporter).

WHAT'S NEW

• NBC will air its first-ever Thanksgiving night game -- Jets at Patriots on Nov. 22 -- as part of a new NBC Thanksgiving night game that will air each season through 2022.

• After impressing the NBC brass last February as a guest analyst at the Super Bowl, Ward joins Football Night In America. He'll morph between studio work in New York City and game sites, including appearances in Denver for the Steelers at Broncos on Sept. 9 and in Baltimore for the Patriots at Ravens on Sept. 23. Look for Ward to share some stories about getting seriously heckled in Baltimore.

• The high-flying Florio brand gets extended as Pro Football Talk will be become a daily show (5-6 p.m. ET) on the NBC Sports Network.

• Given the NFL's kickoff changes this fall -- some late kickoffs have been moved to 4:25 p.m. -- viewers will get to Football Night In America even later at times this season. What does this mean for NBC? "We'll be moving a few things around for our show, and some of that we'll feel out over the first couple of weeks," said Sam Flood, the lead executive for Football Night in America. "But overall we think we have a winning combination and we're getting stronger adding Hines to the mix."

• Tafoya's sideline microphone will be connected to an iPhone and NBC says she'll have someone with her that records and puts her reports both on Twitter, and NBC's Sunday Night Football Extra platform. "We think that's going to make an impact with people who like that second screen experience," said NBC Sports and Sunday Night Football executive producer Fred Gaudelli.

WHAT'S OLD

• Michaels and Collinsworth enter their fourth year together as NBC's lead team and the best broadcast team in the sport. Remarkably, this will be Michaels' 27th year as the lead analyst on a major football package. He's been with Sunday Night Football since 2006 after a long run at ABC.

• It's amazing that Dungy is now in his fourth year as studio analyst. He's quietly become one of the more thoughtful voices on an NFL studio show.

BEST GAMES (all games start at 8:20 p.m. ET unless noted)

Cowboys at Giants (Sept. 5, 8:30 p.m.); Steelers at Broncos (Sept. 9); Lions at Niners (Sept. 16); Patriots at Ravens (Sept. 23), Packers at Texans (Oct. 14); Saints at Broncos (Oct. 28); Cowboys at Falcons (Nov. 4); Ravens at Steelers (Nov. 18); Patriots at Jets (Nov. 22); Packers at Giants (Nov. 25); Eagles at Cowboys (Dec. 2); Lions at Packers (Dec. 9); Niners at Patriots (Dec. 16).

BURNING QUESTIONSSI.com: Why will Hines Ward be a good broadcaster?Collinsworth: Because he works hard. To me, there are no secrets in life. Whatever you are doing, talent comes into play but people who work the hardest at what they do generally do OK. Every report I have gotten on Hines with the people working with him is that he is working his tail off. Usually, things work out for people who work like that."SI.com: How will replacement referees impact the game?

Collinsworth: My concern is that the replacement referees get too cautious. In other words, the easiest way for them to disappear is to keep the flag in their pocket. I think that even the players are starting to get a little sense of that right now, that maybe they can push the envelope just a little bit more than what they've done in the past. And if that's the case then maybe we get players that get a little more aggressive than we would've seen otherwise."

OBLIGATORY PEYTON MANNING COMMENT

"The last one I can remember like this was Joe Montana going to Kansas City and changing the dynamic of things. They went from a good team to the AFC Championship. I think that's what Denver is hoping for. I think they will be much better offensively than they were. I think Peyton will give them a lot of time to help the defense. I do know this: Peyton Manning will help everybody around him get better .They were a playoff team that went two rounds into it last year. So they will be back in the playoffs and knocking at the door again." - Dungy

NUMBERS TO KNOW

Sunday Night Football ranked as the most-watched and highest-rated show in 2011, and the No. 1 program across the key demographics of adults 18-49, 18-34 and 25-54. It was also the No. 3 show overall among women 18-34, and the No. 4 show among women 18-49. It averaged 21.5 million viewers.MUST FOLLOW ON TWITTER

Florio's Pro Football Talk is one of the must-sources for NFL fans.

SUNDAY PREGAME

First on the Field -- Melissa Stark (host), SterlingSharpe (analyst), LaDainian Tomlinson (analyst), Michael Lombardi (analyst).

NFL GameDay Morning --Rich Eisen (host), Steve Mariucci (analyst), Marshall Faulk (analyst), MichaelIrvin (analyst), Warren Sapp (analyst), Kurt Warner (analyst) .

MIDGAME

NFL GameDay Scoreboard -- Paul Burmeister (host), Darren Sharper (analyst), Tom Waddle (analyst). POSTGAME

NFL GameDay Highlights -- Chris Rose (host), Mariucci, Sanders.

NFL GameDay Final -- Rose, Faulk, Sanders, Irvin. BROADCAST

Thursday Night Football -- Brad Nessler (play by play), Mike Mayock (analyst), Alex Flanagan (sideline reporter). Thursday Night Football pre/half/postgame show -- Eisen, Faulk, Irvin, Mariucci, Sanders, Stacey Dales (reporter).

WHAT'S NEW

An expanded 13-game regular season primetime schedule, up from eight games last season. As a schedule, it's not exactly the Mona Lisa, but the jump in games is huge for the network and the first two games (Bears at Packers and Giants at Panthers) are very good. "The schedule is a game-changer for us and that's no pun intended," said Mark Quenzel, the NFL Network Senior VP/Programming & Production. "We get to start the season with everyone else. Obviously, when the league starts up there is a huge interest. We did our best to cover it, but to participate in it from the get-go is a huge thing for us. Games drive everything you do."

• NFLN will get a start on all the other networks Sunday with First on the Field, a show that airs (and this is not a misprint) at 7 a.m. ET. It's the first live pregame show to originate from NFL Films, in Mt. Laurel, N.J., and will feature live reports from game sites. The big talent addition here is Tomlinson, the soon-to-be-Hall of Famer who will serve as an analyst.

• Veteran sportscaster Rose, currently seen at MLB Network, has been added to host the Sunday night Gameday Highlights and Gameday Final shows, as well as NFL Total Access on Thursday nights after Thursday Night Football.

WHAT'S OLD

• As predicted by just about everyone not named Matt Millen or Joe Theismann, Nessler and Mayock solidifiedthe Thursday night broadcast. It's a team that should last for some time. "We started the second half of the season last year with a crew pulled from different places," Mayock said. "We didn't have an established culture. That is a hard thing to do, to jump in the middle of the season with a whole bunch of different components. To try to pull that together and be as good as everyone else is hard. What I am excited about is we are starting Week 2 of the NFL season this year and with 13 games [on the schedule], we get a chance to compete more on equal turf with the other primetime games."

Eisen continues to improve yearly as a host of multiple programs and podcasts.

• Sapp's attitude with other media, for starters. He recently redefined how not to conduct a book tour.

BEST GAMES (all games 8:00 p.m. ET)

Bears at Packers (Sept. 13); Giants at Panthers (Sept. 20); Steelers at Titans (Oct. 11); Seahawks at Niners (Oct. 18); Chiefs at Chargers (Nov. 1); Saints at Falcons (Nov. 29): Broncos at Raiders (Dec. 6); Bengals at Eagles (Dec. 13).

BURNING QUESTIONSSI.com: Why will LaDainian Tomlinson be an effective announcer?

Quenzel: Obviously, he brings experience and expertise as a sure-fire Hall of Famer. He's smart, he's articulate, he's a student of the game. Sometimes you can bring in great athletes but that does not necessarily translate to television or media in general, but with him it does. I saw a rehearsal last week and I was very encouraged.

SI.com: Where does the network stand with Warren Sapp?

Quenzel: Whether it's Game Day Morning or Total Access -- he is on a lot of things we do -- I think Warren brings a fantastic defensive perspective in a league that is primarily offense. He has a phenomenal personality. The audience in all the focus groups we have done enjoy him, so I think he brings a lot of that to the table.

"But, candidly, it is a double-edged sword. Warren brings an edge to him. He played that way, and when he speaks, he speaks that way. And whether you are playing or speaking, when you are on the edge, there is always the danger of falling off that edge. We are aware of that and we work hard with Warren to make sure that we don't cross that line. Does it happen occasionally? It does. I don't think anything Warren ever done has been malicious, so I think really, when we have dealt with Warren, when we have crossed the line, it really comes down to an education process and making sure we do the best we can with him to not take that edge out of his personality while making sure that we are editorially correct.

OBLIGATORY PEYTON MANNING COMMENT

"You have a playoff team that won a playoff game against the Pittsburgh Steelers and now you are putting Peyton Manning in there. If he is as healthy as he has been in the past, I think they are the favorite in that division. He makes everybody better. From what I have seen in his limited snaps, he has a little bit of rust, but he looks like Peyton Manning to me." - Mayock.

NUMBERS TO KNOW

NFL Network wrapped up its sixth season of Thursday Night Football with a record average of 6.2 million cable viewers.

MUST FOLLOW ON TWITTER

With more than 400,000 followers, Eisen has a large social media imprint, tweeting his thoughts on games, among other subjects.

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