BRETT FAVRE AND VIKINGS AIM TO CLINCH NFC NORTH AGAINST PANTHERS ON “SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL”
“Brad Childress is really going to be on his team about a letdown.” – Football Night’s Dungy
“You have to throw to beat Minnesota.” – Football Night’s Harrison
NEW YORK – Dec. 16, 2009 – Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings, who can win the NFC North and clinch a first-round bye on Sunday, travel to Charlotte to face the Carolina Panthers on “NBC Sunday Night Football.”
Coverage begins with “Football Night in America,” Sunday at 7 p.m. ET with Bob Costas hosting live from inside the stadium. Al Michaels (play-by-play), Cris Collinsworth (analyst) and Andrea Kremer (sideline reporter) call the action from Bank of America Stadium.
Dan Patrick and Keith Olbermann will co-host “Football Night” from NBC’s 30 Rockefeller Plaza studios joined by Super Bowl-winning coach Tony Dungy, two-time Super Bowl winner Rodney Harrison and Sports Illustrated’s Peter King. Tiki Barber will report from Qualcomm Stadium on the Bengals-Chargers game.
DUNGY: “Brad Childress is really going to be on his team this week about a letdown. They have to go there and win this ballgame. They want to stay ahead of Arizona and Philadelphia, and make sure they have that bye.”
COLLINSWORTH: “That team with Brett Favre and the way they can play defense – they’re tough.”
HARRISON: “You have to throw to beat Minnesota. The safeties are the weakest part of their defense. If you get a chance to put some pressure on those safeties, you can definitely exploit them.”
VIKINGS VS. PANTHERS: The Vikings lead the all-time series, 5-3, including a 20-10 win last year in Minnesota. Seven of the eight games have been played in Minnesota. The Panthers won the lone contest in Charlotte, 38-13, in 2005.
The Vikings, who won their division last year, are 11-2 and can claim the NFC North via three scenarios (see below). It would be the first time Minnesota won its division in consecutive years since winning six straight from 1973-78. The Vikings defeated Cincinnati, 30-10, at home last week. After winning the NFC South with a 12-4 record in 2008, the Panthers are 5-8 this year, including a 20-10 loss at New England last week.
VIKINGS-PANTHERS IN PRIMETIME: Since NBC acquired the NFL’s premier primetime package in 2006, the Minnesota Vikings are 1-2 and the Carolina Panthers are 0-2 on “Sunday Night Football.” This is the second SNF appearance for the Vikings and first for the Panthers this year. Minnesota lost, 30-17, at Arizona in Week 13. Carolina’s most recent SNF appearance was a 34-28 loss on the road to the New York Giants in Week 16 last year.
VIKINGS POSTSEASON SCENARIOS: The Vikings clinch the NFC North division title with a win; OR, a tie and a Green Bay loss or tie; OR, a Green Bay loss. Minnesota clinches a first-round bye with a win and a Philadelphia loss or tie; OR, a tie and a Green Bay loss or tie and a Philadelphia loss.
FLEXIBLE SCHEDULING: The NFL will utilize flexible scheduling in Weeks 11-17. In those weeks, the schedule will list the games tentatively scheduled for Sunday night on NBC Sports. Only Sunday afternoon games are eligible to be moved to Sunday night, in which case the tentatively scheduled Sunday night game will be moved to an afternoon start time. Flexible scheduling will not be applied to games airing on Thursday, Saturday or Monday nights. A flexible scheduling move will be announced at least 12 days before the game. For Week 17, the move may be announced six days before the game. Flexible scheduling will ensure quality matchups on Sunday night in those weeks and give surprise teams a chance to play their way onto primetime.
“SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL” DOMINATES SUNDAY NIGHT: “Sunday Night Football” has won 12 of 13 Sunday nights so far this season. In 2006, SNF’s inaugural season, it won the night nine of 16 times. In 2007, that figure increased to 11 and increased again in 2008 to 13. Sunday Night had a bye in Week 8 due to game four of the World Series.
“Sunday Night Football” is also experiencing its best start since NBC acquired the NFL’s premier primetime package in 2006 (SNF, 2006-Present, MNF, 1970-2005). Below is SNF viewership through 14 weeks:
2009: 19.6 million
2008: 16.1 million, up 22%
2007: 16.2 million, up 21%
2006: 17.5 million, up 12%
ROTOWORLD.COM‘S WEEK 15 FANTASY SLEEPER PICKS: Rotoworld.com managing editor Gregg Rosenthal, who was named Fantasy Football Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association, picks his fantasy sleepers for Week 15.
1. Jason Campbell vs. Giants: New York’s defense is a mess, and Campbell has averaged over 250 yards over his last four starts.
2. Arian Foster vs. Texans: Houston has a new goal line hammer to use in a game that should require a lot of goal line hammering.
3. Beanie Wells vs. Cardinals: The Lions are somehow getting worse as this season has worn on. Look for a lot of carries from Wells with Tim Hightower struggling from fumbilitis.
4. Antonio Bryant vs. Seahawks: We’ve been waiting all season to use Bryant and the time has finally come. Seattle’s small cornerbacks can’t check the physical hero of last year’s fantasy playoffs.
5. John Carlson vs. Buccaneers: Nate Burleson’s injury should open up targets for Seattle’s forgotten tight end. Oh, and the Bucs remain miserable.
2009 “NBC SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL” REMAINING SCHEDULE
Football Night in America begins every Sunday at 7 p.m. ET
Sun. Dec. 27 *Week 16 Dallas Cowboys at Washington Redskins (no change)
Sun. Jan. 3 *Week 17 TBA
NBC & THE NFL: NBC’s long history with the NFL dates back 70 years to 1939 when NBC became the first network to televise an NFL game – Philadelphia Eagles vs. Brooklyn Dodgers from Ebbets Field to the approximately 1,000 sets then in New York. NBC first broadcast the NFL Championship Game in 1955. In 1964, NBC signed a five-year contract to televise the AFL. NBC was awarded the AFC package in 1970, an association that would continue through the 1997-98 season. NBC televised the first Super Bowl in 1967, the historic New York Jets’ upset of the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III in 1969, and this past February broadcast Super Bowl XLIII, the most-watched program in television history.