1. Last year at this time, I did power rankings for each of the regular NFL broadcast crews. The Traina Thoughts audience repsonded very well to the piece, so it's back again this season.
My criteria is pretty simple. It's great if a broadcast team enhances a game. It's fine if they just give you a solid nuts and bolts telecast. It's bad if they take away from the game or annoy the viewer on a regular basis. I'm also only including crews that have worked most weeks.
The play-by-play person drives the ranking more than the analysts in most cases, but not all. Ultimately, it comes down to how much I want to hear this crew call the game I'm watching. The broadcasters won't make you tune out (although they can make you want to tune out), but they can add to your enjoyment.
1.Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, FOX: I've said this before and I'll say it again: Buck is the best play-by-play guy in the business right now. The haters are out there and they are vocal, but no one gives you a better call each and every Sunday (and Thursday). He knows when to give you the game. He knows when to drop in some levity. Aikman is excellent at breaking down plays and explaning things in simple terms.
And even this did not happen during the current NFL season, this is still the best call of the 2018 calendar year.
2. Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth: Michaels just turned 74 years old and is still on top of his game. Collinsworth has regressed over the years and says some weird stuff during games, but so good at analyzing line play and doesn't over speak like many analysts. Michaels, though, makes this team No. 2, because he's superb on play-by-play and is the only announcer to reference gambling.
3. Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts, CBS: Ian is a lot like Joe Buck. He always strikes the perfect balance of giving you the game and mixing in light-hearted moments. He knows sports are meant to be fun and that comes through during his games. The chemistry with Fouts is excellent, too.
4.Jim Nantz Tony Romo, CBS: This kills me. They were my No. 1 team last year and I was driving the Romo bandwagon, but clearly CBS higher ups told Tony to stop predicting plays and tone down his act. It's a damn shame, too, because he was the best listen in the NFL; a fan favorite and unique. Network executives hate anyone who is unique. They prefer cookie cutter. Romo, though, is still very good and still comes off like a fan as much as an analyst. The other story here is Nantz. It's amazing what getting away from Phil Simms has done for him. I look forward to listening to Nantz call a game now.
5. Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon, CBS: Very simply, if Kevin Harlan is calling a game, it's a good thing. The epic pipes, the attention to detail when it comes to who is on the field, excitement and great calls.
6. Kevin Burkhardt, Charles Davis, FOX: Burkhardt is one of the play-by-play guys who enhances a game with his calls and Davis is a very good analyst. They naturally make the contest their calling have that big-game feel.
7. Andrew Catalon, James Lofton, CBS: This is a very underrated team. Lofton is a solid, nuts and bolts analyst, while Catalon does a good job on play-by-play. Catalon has also injected some great references into his calls, which we need more of.
8. Greg Gumbel, Trent Green, Bruce Arians, CBS: I have a strong bias against three-person booths. Arians was added to this team this season and he hasn't brought much to the table. On top of that, he does not have a voice for broadcasting and it's actually hard to hear him sometimes. Green has improved a lot as an analyst.
9. Thom Brennaman, Chris Spielman, FOX: Like Harlan, Brennaman has a great voice and he's very good on play-by-play. Spielman, though, never stops speaking and it's all hardcore football speak. It always seems like he's lecturing the viewers instead of just talking like a regular person.
10. Spero Dedes, Adam Archuleta, CBS: They usually get stuck with a terrible game, but always give you a decent call.
11. Joe Tessitore, Jason Witten, Booger McFarland, ESPN: See above regarding three-person booths. ESPN wanted to get that Romo magic with Witten and it hasn't happened. With Witten learning on the job since this is his first broadcasting gig and McFarland in a crane, the telecast always seems off. Every broadcaster makes mistakes, but when you get a national game, your mistakes are going to be highlighted. That's what's happened with Witten and it hasn't been good.
12. Chris Myers, Daryl Johnston, FOX: Memo to FOX: Pair up Myers or Brennaman with Mark Schlereth next season and you'll have a good crew. Johnston is a rough listen.
13. Tom McCarthy, Steve Beuerlein, CBS: This crew always gets CBS's worst game of the week, so they don't get a ton of exposure.
14. Kenny Albert, Rondé Barber, FOX: This is a case of the analyst bringing down the play-by-play guy. Barber sounds like he'd rather be doing anything than calling a football game each Sunday. On top of that, he's just not a good analyst.
15. Dick Stockton, Mark Schlereth, FOX: Stockton has had a great career, but he's not good anymore. And that's being kind. The mistakes he makes are so bad. Schlereth, who was in ESPN's studio for years, is good, though. He needs to be paired with a competent play-by-play person.
2. This week's SI Media Podcast features an interview with Blake Griffin. The Pistons star talked about whether he's rooting against the Clippers, whether it's a better feeling to get a laugh doing standup or to have a monster dunk, whether he still gets excited when he throws down a big dunk, the negative comment that bothers him the most, being name dropped on The Office, why he loves Curb Your Enthusiasm, but can't binge watch it and much more.
You can listen to the podcast below or download it on iTunes.
3. It's not a secret that Hue Jackson was terrible as head coach of the Browns, but this story that Ian Eagle told Rich Eisen yesterday is truly astounding.
4. Several Rams players were mic'd up for their wild 54-51 win against the Chiefs a couple of weeks ago.
5. Steph Curry is a man of action. After receiving a letter from a young girl who was upset that his Under Armor sneakers were only for boys, the Warriors star fixed the problem and wrote a letter to the girl to thank her for the suggestion.
6. RANDOM YOUTUBE VIDEO OF THE DAY: Since today's edition of Traina Thoughts is about NFL broadcast crews, let's remember the G.O.A.T.
Traina Thoughts is the best of the Internet, plus musings by SI.com writer, Jimmy Traina. Get the link to a new Traina's Thoughts each day by following on Twitter and liking on Facebook. Catch up on previous editions of Traina Thoughts right here.And make sure to listen to and subscribe to the SI Media Podcast hosted by Jimmy Traina.
IN CLOSING: Saints -7 on Thursday night = eassssssssy cash.