Press Releases


ESPN NFL Programming Update – Wild Card Weekend


Posted on

Saturday and Sunday Editions of Countdown and Matchup

ESPN’s NFL Wild Card Weekend will be anchored by two editions of Sunday NFL Countdown – a two-hour special Saturday, Jan. 5, at 11 a.m. ET, and the regular three-hour edition Sunday, Jan 6, at 11 a.m. – with Chris Berman, Cris Carter, Mike Ditka, Tom Jackson, Keyshawn Johnson, Suzy Kolber, Merril Hoge and Ron Jaworski.  NFL Insider Adam Schefter and senior analyst Chris Mortensen will report the day’s news.

Snickers NFL Matchup with host Sal Paolantonio and analysts Merril Hoge and Ron Jaworski will also include Saturday and Sunday editions at 6:30 a.m. (reairs on ESPN2 at 8:30 a.m.) each day.  NFL PrimeTime will air two live shows – late Saturday at midnight (9 a.m. PT) and Sunday at 8 p.m.  Additionally, Trey Wingo will host a two-hour SportsCenter Special: Wild Card Weekend Sunday at 9 p.m. on ESPN2, recapping the weekend and looking ahead to the NFL Divisional Playoff round.

ESPN’s NFL studio programming on the Wild Card Playoff weekend:

Date Time (ET) Show Networks
Fri, Jan 4 4 p.m. NFL Live presented by Radio Shack
Trey Wingo, Mark Schlereth and Tedy Bruschi
  7 p.m. NFL Kickoff
Wingo, Schlereth and Bruschi
Sat, Jan 5 6:30 p.m. Snickers NFL Matchup
Sal Paolantonio, Merril Hoge and Ron Jaworski
  11 a.m. Sunday NFL Countdown presented by IBM (2 hours)
Chris Berman, Cris Carter, Mike Ditka, Tom Jackson, Keyshawn Johnson, Suzy Kolber, Hoge and Jaworski
  12 a.m. NFL PrimeTime
Wingo, Trent Dilfer and Hoge
Sun, Jan 6 6:30 a.m. NFL Matchup
Paolantonio, Hoge and Jaworski
  10 a.m. Sunday NFL Countdown presented by IBM (3 hours)Berman, Carter, Ditka, Jackson, Johnson, Kolber, Hoge and Jaworski ESPN
  8 p.m. NFL PrimeTime
Berman, Jackson and Dilfer
  9 p.m. SportsCenter Special (2 hours)
Wingo, Jaworski, Hoge, Antonio Pierce and Herm Edwards

On-site reporters at the four NFL Wild Card Weekend games:

ESPN’s NFL Wild Card playoff coverage will include pre- and post-game reports from all four stadiums. Saturday: Bob Holtzman (Cincinnati at Houston) and Josina Anderson (Minnesota at Green Bay). Sunday: Rachel Nichols (Indianapolis) and Sal Paolantonio (Baltimore) will split coverage of the teams playing at Baltimore’s M&T Bank Stadium, and Ed Werder (Seattle at Washington).

Sunday NFL Countdown (Saturday):

  • Adrian Peterson Soundtracks – Coming off one of the most memorable seasons for an NFL running back, Minnesota Vikings Adrian Peterson will be featured in “Soundtracks.”
  • Arian Foster’s Rise – As a kid growing up in Albuquerque, N.M., Arian Foster promised his mom, Bernadette Sizemore, and family members a fruit basket when he makes it big in the NFL.  During the off-season, the running back made good on his promise after he signed a multi-year agreement with the Texans.  Countdown’s Tom Jackson revisits the emotional press conference where Foster shared his childhood promise, interviews his mother and tells the story of a promise kept.
  • The Comeback – This week is the 20th anniversary of the greatest comeback in NFL history – the Buffalo Bills overcoming a 35-3 third quarter deficit to beat the Houston Oilers 41-38 in overtime in a home NFL Wild Card game.  Countdown will relive the game through the eyes of the players and coaches.

Sunday NFL Countdown (Sunday):

  • RG3 and Russell Wilson’s Week 17 Soundtracks – Last Sunday, Robert Griffin III led the Washington Redskins to a must-win victory over the Dallas Cowboys to top the NFC East.  His rookie counterpart in Seattle, Russell Wilson, beat the St. Louis Rams to finish his first season a perfect 8-0 at home. Before their game, Countdown takes the viewer inside their week 17 games in Soundtracks.
  • What Drives Alfred? – In a revealing piece about the Redskins breakout running back Alfred Morris, Josina Anderson takes a drive with the rookie in his 1991 Mazda 626 (blue book value of $1,000) a symbol for what has kept Morris grounded as he is fast becoming a star in the NFL.
  • One Last Dance? – Before Ray Lewis’ last home game, Chris Connelly talks to past and present Baltimore Ravens as well as opponents who have admired Lewis perform his pre-game dance.
  • Frank Caliendo – The comedian takes a witty look at the N.Y. Jets season and their head coach Rex Ryan.
  • O.J. Brigance – O.J. Brigance’s 16 games with the Baltimore Ravens culminated in a Super Bowl XXXV victory.  Four years later, he joined the Ravens front office, becoming the director of player development.  In 2007, Brigance was diagnosed with ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease.  He has since become an inspiration to others, facing his challenge with passion and perseverance, and starting a foundation to help others fight the disease.

Snickers NFL Matchup (Saturday):

  • Merril Hoge explains how Vikings receiver Jarius Wright caught a 73 yard pass last Sunday against the Green Bay Packers and contends the Vikings offense will need to make similar plays in the playoffs to be successful.
  • Hoge shows how Vikings “Factor Back” Adrian Peterson has racked up more than 400 yards in his two games versus the Packers this season.
  • Ron Jaworski, using the telestrator, shows how the Packers attacked the Vikings defense when cornerback Antoine Winfield was off the field.
  • Jaworski shows how the Packers use tight end Jermichael Finley to help with pass protection.
  • The Cincinnati Bengals defense has emerged as among the best by starting their blitz and pressure schemes in the “A Gap,” explains Jaworski.
  • The Bengals are in the playoffs for the second straight year, but Hoge contends quarterback Andy Dalton is still missing some opportunities to score points.
  • Hoge uses the “Coaches Clicker” to show how the Texans offense, which is predicated on establishing the zone runs, used running back Arian Foster effectively by running in-between the tackles against the Indianapolis Colts.

Snickers NFL Matchup features (Sunday):

  • Jaworski explains how rookie quarterback Andrew Luck’s mobility has had a huge impact on the Colts passing game.
  • Using the telestrator, Jaworski explains how the Redskins could use wide receiver Santana Moss in the slot to create more explosive plays.
  • Jaworski revisits a 23-yard run by Kansas City’s Jamaal Charles to show how the Colts defense struggles to set the edge and tackle on the perimeter.
  • The Ravens have held their opponents under 200 passing yards in the last four games and Hoge breaks down their blitz scheme.
  • Hoge shows how the pistol formation allows Seattle to freeze defenders and get running back Marshawn Lynch busting through.
  • Using the “Coaches Clicker,” Hoge explains how the Redskins offensive formations have led to running back Alfred Morris setting the team’s single-season rushing record. 

Extensive and ESPN Radio Coverage of NFL Wild Card Weekend

In addition to ESPN’s television coverage of the NFL Wild Card Playoff weekend, will dispatch multiple NFL writers and divisional bloggers to all four games:

  • On Saturday, bloggers Jamison Hensley (AFC North) and Paul Kuharsky (AFC South), and senior writer Jeff Chadiha will cover the Bengals-Texans game in Houston, while blogger Kevin Seifert (NFC North) and senior writer Ashley Fox will be at Lambeau Field for the Vikings-Packers game.
  • On Sunday, Hensley and Kuharsky will travel to Baltimore for Colts-Ravens, while bloggers Dan Graziano (NFC East) and Mike Sando (NFC West), as well as senior writer John Clayton, will cover the Seahawks-Redskins matchup. will have the latest updates throughout the week on the NFL Nation blog and on the specific pages that launched highlighting each of the four games. will also look ahead to the divisional round with an AFC Playoff Q&A by Chadiha and a NFC Playoff Q&A from Clayton.

ESPN Radio’s Countdown to Kickoff – Saturday (1-4 p.m.) with host Chuck Wilson, and Sunday (10 a.m.-1 p.m.) with host Jonathan Coachman – will preview and review all the games. Guests will include analysts Tom Jackson, Ron Jaworski and Merril Hoge, insiders Chris Mortensen and Clayton, and on-site game reporters as well as newsmakers from around the league.

— 30 —