The NFL has a lot of television network partners to keep happy, and that job got more difficult when CBS was given a package of Thursday night games this season.
The league for years used "Monday Night Football" to show its highlight game each week, but when NBC landed "Sunday Night Football" and ESPN went to Monday night, the league puts its best games on Sunday night. This year NFL needs to make sure CBS and FOX were happy with their regular Sunday schedules, give CBS some good games for Thursday night, and still make "Sunday Night Football" and "Monday Night Football" must-watch events.
That's not easy.
The NFL placated NBC and ESPN this week, a day before the schedule was released. ESPN was given a wild-card playoff game. A divisional playoff game was added to NBC's schedule through 2022. That move made it seem like the Monday and Sunday night schedule in 2014 might be watered down a bit. Shutdown Corner's Anwar Richardson and Frank Schwab will take a look at the Sunday and Monday night games, week by week, and see how entertaining the prime-time schedule will be this season:
Frank’s take: Very nice Sunday night game. The Giants have improved and the Lions are entertaining. I wouldn't have thought this a year ago, but Chargers-Cardinals isn't bad at all for the second part of the doubleheader.
Anwar’s take: NFL fans have been craving football for months. It really does not matter what games are rolled out on in Week 1. We will watch every minute of each game.
Verdict: Stay up, call in sick on Monday ... and then again on Tuesday.
Frank’s take: That Sunday game is interesting; pretty good test for Marc Trestman's Bears offense. And two up-and-coming teams on Monday night. Two thumbs up.
Anwar’s take: Nick Foles vs. Andrew Luck? First team to 50 points wins. Do not go to bed early.
Verdict: The boss may be getting upset, but it's time to call in sick on Monday and Tuesday again because you're staying up late for these games.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Carolina Panthers
Monday: Chicago Bears at N.J. Jets
Frank’s take: Always fun to watch Cam Newton. Not as fun to watch Geno Smith.
Anwar’s take: Make sure you soak up all of the offense in Week 2 because these matchups are all about defense. First team to 21 points wins.
Verdict: Catch up on your sleep, get to work early, assuming you still have that job.
Frank’s take: Guess this depends if you think the Chiefs are going to repeat 2013. Call me skeptical. Because we know Dallas is going to get run.
Anwar’s take: Most fans will tune in to see in Drew Brees lights up Dallas’ secondary. Kansas City has not done much to improve its roster in the offseason, and this could be the first lopsided primetime game.
Verdict: Better than raking the leaves.
Cincinnati Bengals at New England Patriots
Monday: Seattle Seahawks at Washington Redskins
Frank’s take: I get that the NFC East draws ratings. But, I'm not too thrilled about seeing the best team in the NFL vs. the team that was 31st last year. At least Sunday night is solid.
Anwar’s take: Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman will take on Washington receiver DeSean Jackson. The trash-talk between both men should be very entertaining.
Verdict: One outta two ain't that bad, and the Sherman-DJax sideshow should keep you awake on Monday.
N.Y. Giants at Philadelphia Eagles
Monday: San Francisco 49ers at St. Louis Rams
Frank’s take: Yes! Another NFC East game! All hail the NFC East! Monday night might not be a shootout, but the Rams aren't bad. It might be a sneaky good game.
Anwar’s take: Is this the week Eli Manning throws three interceptions? History says it is bound to happen. It will be hard to get pumped up to watch St. Louis.
Verdict: Stay awake on Monday night at least, and if the 49ers go up by a couple scores, call it a night. And call the NFL and tell them you're sick of seeing every NFC East game in prime time.
San Francisco 49ers at Denver Broncos
Monday: Houston Texas at Pittsburgh Steelers
Frank’s take: Oh man, here we go. Broncos-49ers will be fascinating. Great, A-plus game. And if you believe the Texans can return to 2011-2012 levels, Monday won't be bad either.
Anwar’s take: Peyton Manning struggled against an elite defense in the Super Bowl, making this game a really good barometer for his team. If Johnny Manziel is with the Texans, this will be a great contest.
Verdict: Don't even think about doing anything else on Sunday night. Or Monday night either, just in case.
Sunday: Green Bay Packers at New Orleans Saints
Monday: Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys
Frank’s take: Two great quarterbacks on Sunday night. Fun game. And Monday night ... I'm not gonna even say it.
Anwar’s take: Watching Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees square off should be entertaining. The NFC East battle on Monday will be fun to watch, regardless of the records.
Verdict: Your fantasy team already demanded that you're not going anywhere for Saints-Packers, so not much more needs to be said.
Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers
Monday: Indianapolis Colts at New York Giants
Frank’s take: Ravens-Steelers isn't what it was a few years ago, but it's usually a close, hard-fought game. And Monday night ... really guys? At least we get to see Andrew Luck.
Anwar’s take: Mike Tomlin was fined $100,000 for hindering the kickoff return of Baltimore Jacoby Jones last year. Let’s see if he stays out of play this year.
Verdict: Watch on Sunday, and then Monday is a good time to take the significant other to dinner. Earns points to cash in during a better prime-time slate.
Frank’s take: Can't go wrong with the best traditional rivalry in the NFL on a Sunday night. And both teams will be good too. Panthers-Eagles is a good contrast in styles. No complaints here.
Anwar’s take: Bears quarterback Jay Cutler is usually good for a few meltdowns each year. This could be the one when he becomes a turnover machine. Meanwhile, Carolina’s defense must find a way to stop Eagles running back LeSean McCoy.
Verdict: Remember the brownie points from last week? Cash 'em in and find a spot on the couch, partner.
New England Patriots at Indianapolis Colts
Monday: Pittsburgh Steelers at Tennessee Titans
Frank’s take: I really like Patriots-Colts. Steelers-Titans? Well, I really like Patriots-Colts.
Anwar’s take: Patriots and Colts has “game of the year” written all over it. The next night has “worst game of the year” written all over it.
Verdict: One outta two ain't bad.
Dallas Cowboys at N.Y. Giants
Monday: Baltimore Ravens at New Orleans Saints
Frank’s take: Oh, hey, NFC East. Hadn't seen you in a while! I give up.
Anwar’s take: Time to watch the Cowboys implode. Now the holiday season can officially begin.
Verdict: Better than shoveling snow.
Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs
Monday: Miami Dolphins at New York Jets
Frank’s take: I still don't think the Chiefs have what it takes to beat the Broncos, but Arrowhead Stadium is a tough, tough place to play. And look, call me dumb (and I know you will, based on the comments in previous posts), but maybe Dolphins-Jets will be better than we think. The Ghost of Jumbo Elliott and all.
Anwar’s take: Denver should be fighting for playoff position. Miami and New York will be fighting for draft position.
Verdict: Each one has a good chance to put you to sleep early.
New England Patriots at San Diego Chargers
Monday: Atlanta Falcons at Green Bay Packers
Frank’s take: Can see a lot of points in Patriots-Chargers, and hopefully no Patriots players dance on the logo at midfield if they win. ESPN must start praying now that the Falcons are better than last year. Do you realize ESPN paid $15 billion for these games? I guess $15 billion just doesn't buy the quality it used to.
Anwar’s take: If the Atlanta Falcons are a bad team again, this horrible stretch of Monday Night Football games will continue. Any chance the Falcons can re-sign Deion Sanders and make this game interesting?
Verdict: Take the kids to go see Santa at the mall.
Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles
Monday: New Orleans Saints at Chicago Bears
Frank’s take: (banging head with a hammer) ... Wait, that Monday game is good.
Anwar’s take: Jerry Jones’ failure to assemble a winning team is on public display again. Dallas is only a few games away from another 8-8 season.
Verdict: Hey, we're getting down to the nitty gritty. Watch 'em. In a few weeks you'll miss these prime-time games. Even the NFC East ones.
Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals
Monday: Denver Broncos at Cincinnati Bengals
Frank’s take: I'm not sure Arizona repeats what it did last year. That has flex written all over it. Wonder if we'll be on Peyton Manning record watch for the Monday nighter.
Anwar’s take: The NFL finishes strong with two compelling games. Arizona could dethrone Seattle and emerge as a surprise team this season.
Verdict: Who are we kidding? You're not missing any of these games.
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