Two Weekend Editions of Countdown and Matchup
ESPN’s NFL Divisional Playoffs Weekend will include Chris Berman, Cris Carter, Mike Ditka, Tom Jackson, Keyshawn Johnson, Suzy Kolber, Merril Hoge and Ron Jaworski hosting two editions of Sunday NFL Countdown – a two-hour special Saturday, Jan. 12, at 10 a.m. ET, and the regular three-hour edition Sunday, Jan 6, at 10 a.m. NFL Insider Adam Schefter and senior analyst Chris Mortensen will report the day’s news.
Sal Paolantonio will host NFL Matchup with analysts Merril Hoge and Ron Jaworski Saturday and Sunday at 3 a.m. each day (reairs on ESPN2 Saturday at 6 a.m.; and on ESPN Sunday at 6:30 a.m.). NFL PrimeTime with host Trey Wingo will air on Saturday at midnight (9 p.m. PT) and Sunday at 9 p.m.
ESPN’s NFL studio programming on Divisional Playoffs weekend:
|Fri, Jan 11||4 p.m.||NFL Live presented by Radio ShackTrey Wingo, Tedy Bruschi and Herm Edwards||ESPN|
|5 p.m.||NFL32 Suzy Kolber, Chris Mortensen, Bruschi and Mark Schlereth||ESPN2|
|7 p.m.||NFL KickoffWingo, Schlereth and Darren Woodson||ESPN2|
|Sat, Jan 12||3 a.m.||NFL MatchupSal Paolantonio, Merril Hoge and Ron Jaworski||ESPN|
|10 a.m.||Sunday NFL Countdown presented by IBM (2 hours)Chris Berman, Cris Carter, Mike Ditka, Tom Jackson and Keyshawn Johnson||ESPN|
|11 p.m.||SportsCenterTrent Dilfer and Hoge||ESPN|
|12 a.m.||NFL PrimeTime Wingo, Dilfer and Hoge||ESPN|
|Sun, Jan 13||3 a.m.||NFL MatchupPaolantonio, Hoge and Jaworski||ESPN|
|10 a.m.||Sunday NFL Countdown presented by IBM (3 hours)Berman, Carter, Ditka, Jackson, Johnson, Kolber, Hoge and Jaworski||ESPN|
|9 p.m.||NFL PrimeTimeBerman, Dilfer and Jackson||ESPN|
|10 p.m.||SportsCenter SpecialWingo, Eric Mangini and Antonio Pierce||ESPN|
|11 p.m.||SportsCenter Dilfer||ESPN|
On-site reporters at the four NFL Divisional Playoff Weekend games:
Coverage will include pre- and post-game reports from all four stadiums. Saturday: Sal Paolantonio (Baltimore at Denver) and Colleen Dominguez (Green Bay at San Francisco). Sunday: Josina Anderson (Seattle) and Ed Werder (Atlanta) will split coverage of the teams playing at Georgia Dome, and Rachel Nichols (Houston at New England).
Sunday NFL Countdown (Saturday):
- “Soundtracks” on Ray Lewis’ Wild Card Game –Countdown relives Ray Lewis’ last home game as the Baltimore Ravens’ inspirational leader from introductory dance through the end-of-game celebration during the Wild Card game.
- John Harbaugh with Berman – Ravens John Harbaugh will coach his team in a Divisional Playoff game for the fifth straight season. Countdown’s Chris Berman travelled to Baltimore this week for an interview with Harbaugh who talks about Ray Lewis announcing his retirement, quarterback Joe Flacco’s up and down season and the success of his brother/coach Jim Harbaugh is having with the San Francisco 49ers.
- Elway with Tommy – Former teammates – Denver Broncos executive vice president John Elway and Countdown’s Tom Jackson – reunite to discuss the team’s turnaround – winning 11 straight games – and how he convinced quarterback Peyton Manning to sign with the Broncos.
- Kaepernick’s Dream – While in fourth grade, 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick wrote a letter expressing his desire to one day play for the team or his hometown team, the Green Bay Packers. Reporter Colleen Dominguez traces Kaepernick’s story – raised by adopted parents and how he persevered to make his dream come true.
Sunday NFL Countdown (Sunday):
- Tom Brady with Berman – Before beginning another playoff campaign, quarterback Tom Brady sat down with Berman for a interview where he discusses his team’s two Super Bowl losses in the last five years, recaps the season, fatherhood and his future in the game.
- Matt Ryan’s Quest – After three straight losses in the playoffs, many are beginning to question whether quarterback Matt Ryan will win his first playoff game. ESPN.com’s Greg Garber explores Ryan’s quest to get over the proverbial hump and includes interviews with notable former quarterbacks, Elway and Randall Cunningham who experienced failure in the playoffs early in their careers
- The D Block! – The Falcons “D Block” is arguably the most entertaining show in football. Each week, the Atlanta Falcons’ linebackers host a show in the locker room that includes special guests and their unique brand of comedy, music and witty interviews.
- J.J. Watt Biggest Impact – The Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt is making a major impact on and off the field. Watt befriended two brothers in Houston paralyzed in a car crash that killed their parents. ESPN.com columnist and Countdown essayist Rick Reilly reports how Watt has impacted the lives of this family.
- Richard Sherman “Soundtracks” – In-game audio and highlights from the ebullient Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman in their Wild Card game last Sunday at Washington.
NFL Matchup (Saturday):
- Jaworski shows how the 49ers use an unconventional formation to dictate a favorable matchup that repeatedly leads to wide receiver Michael Crabtree vs. a linebacker
- Hoge describes a blitz scheme using second- and third-level defenders that the Broncos used to pressure Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco in their week 15 game.
- Jaworski uses the telestrator to show how Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning takes advantage of man coverage with his big wide receivers running unique double-move routes.
- In week 15, the Ravens’ run game was most successful in single-back, Jaworski explains why and how.
- Disregard the 49ers at Packers week one game, contends Hoge, explaining how Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has become more successful late in the season by using his legs to avoid pressure.
- Though the 49ers appear to be a pass-heavy team since the change to quarterback Colin Kaepernick, they are still a run-first offense. Hoge uses the “Coaches Clicker” to show why.
- Jaworski shows how the 49ers disguised blitzes in week one to produce three sacks of quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
NFL Matchup (Sunday):
- Quarterback Russell Wilson has impressed critics with his ability to make plays with his legs. Jaworski shows a 49 yard-completion that exemplifies the Seattle Seahawks signal-caller’s ability to make throws on the run.
- Arguing that the Seahawks’ and Carolina Panthers’ offenses are similar, Hoge analyzes key plays in the Panthers offense that led to 394 rushing yards in their two meetings with the Falcons this season.
- Jaworski, using the telestrator, shows how the New England Patriots run-action to draw the safeties down opened up lanes for an easy touchdown throw to wide receiver Brandon Lloyd in their last meeting vs. the Texans
- Jaworski explains how the Falcons’ motion and unconventional alignments can mollify the Seahawks’ potent press coverage.
- Falcons’ tight end Tony Gonzalez has the most third-down catches this year and Hoge shows how he wins against man or zone coverage.
- JJ Watt and the Texans defense must get pressure on Tom Brady to contain the Patriots pass attack, and Hoge pulls out the “Coaches Clicker” to explain a successful zone-blitz the Texans used in their last meeting.
- The Patriots defense held running back Arian Foster to 46 yards in Week 14 playing in multiple defensive fronts. Hoge shows how the Patriots’ key is sustained penetration.
- Jaworski analyzes Matt Schaub’s interception in the Texans first meeting with the Patriots, showing how the quarterback needs to manipulate the safety before making deep throws downfield.
- Jaworski shows Vince Wilfork’s dominance against the run in the Texans at Patriots week 14 game.
NFL Divisional Playoff Coverage on ESPN.com and ESPN Radio
ESPN Radio and ESPN.com will cover the NFL Divisional Playoffs leading up to and following the four weekend games. Highlights:
ESPN Radio’s Countdown to Kickoff (Saturday 1-4 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m.-1 p.m.) with host Freddie Coleman will preview each day’s action. Guests include analysts Tom Jackson, Ron Jaworkski and Merril Hoge, insiders Chris Mortensen and John Clayton, and on-site game reporters as well as newsmakers from around the league. Weekend programming will also feature extensive post-game coverage of each game.
ESPN.com writers and bloggers will cover all four Divisional Playoff games. Anticipated staff assignments:
- Baltimore at Denver: AFC West blogger Bill Williamson, AFC North blogger Jamison Hensley and senior writer Elizabeth Merrill.
- Green Bay at San Francisco: NFC North blogger Kevin Seifert and NFC West blogger Mike Sando.
- Seattle at Atlanta: NFL columnist Ashley Fox, NFC South blogger Pat Yasinskas, and senior writer John Clayton.
- Houston at New England: AFC East blogger James Walker and AFC South blogger Paul Kuharsky. Patriots writer Mike Reiss and others from ESPN Boston will also have coverage surrounding the game.
On Sunday, ESPN.com will post a NFC Championship Q&A written by Clayton and an AFC Championship Q&A by senior writer Jeffri Chadiha.
SportsCenter Special with Bill Parcells to Preview Conference Championships
Two-time Super Bowl-winning head coach Bill Parcells will preview the NFL Conference Championship games in a 30-minute SportsCenter Special on Wednesday, Jan. 16, at 7 p.m. on ESPN. Parcells will be joined by host Trey Wingo and analyst Keyshawn Johnson as he discusses the NFC and AFC Championship games and his experience coaching in these games during his 19 seasons as a head coach.
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