ESPN NFL Programming Update – Week 15

ESPN Sunday NFL Countdown logoSunday NFL Countdown: Conversations with Steelers’ Big Ben Roethlisberger and Broncos’ Von Miller; and More on “Showdown Sunday”

Chris Berman, Cris Carter, Mike Ditka, Tom Jackson, Keyshawn Johnson, Suzy Kolber, Merril Hoge and Ron Jaworski will preview week 15 games on Sunday NFL Countdown Presented by IBM on December 16, at 10 a.m. NFL Insider Adam Schefter and senior analyst Chris Mortensen will report the day’s news.

The three-hour program will focus on Sunday’s six marquee matchups between teams with winning records, a rare occurrence on NFL Sundays this late in the season.  Countdown correspondents –  Josina Anderson (Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears) Sal Paolantonio (Denver Broncos at Baltimore Ravens), Rachel Nichols (New York Giants at Atlanta Falcons), Bob Holtzman (Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans), Ed Werder (Pittsburgh Steelers at Dallas Cowboys) and Colleen Dominguez (San Francisco 49ers at New England Patriots) – will report from each one of the games. The last time a NFL Sunday included six games between teams with winning records was Sunday, Dec. 7, 2003. Other highlights:

  • A Conversation with Big Ben:  Last Sunday, Ben Roethlisberger returned from a shoulder injury to quarterback the Pittsburgh Steelers in a surprising home loss to the San Diego Chargers in a game symbolic of the team’s roller coaster season. Countdown’s Merril Hoge sits for a one-on-one conversation with Roethlisberger.
  • Von Miller Interview:  The Denver Broncos defense, led by second year linebacker Von Miller, deserves as much credit as quarterback Peyton Manning and the offense for the Broncos’ eight-game win streak. Countdown’s Tom Jackson,a former Broncos linebacker, travelled to Denver for a sit-down interview with the AFC Defensive Player of the Month in November.
  • Frank Caliendo:  The humorous segment has Caliendo playing ESPN host Bob Ley and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.

Countdown will also feature a live look-ins at quarterbacks Peyton Manning, Eli Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Andrew Luck, Jay Cutler and Matt Ryan, running backs Arian Foster and Ray Rice, and linebacker Ray Lewis in their pre-game routines leading into the 1 p.m. games; Kenny Mayne in his self-titled segment – the Mayne Event; Cris Carter’s “Where You At?”; and Jaworski and Hoge’s Xs and Os “Eye in the Sky” segment.

ESPN’s Monday Night Football: Tennessee Titans Host New York Jets

The Tennessee Titans host the New York Jets on Monday Night Football on December 17 at 8:30 p.m. ET. Since moving to Tennessee in 1997, the Titans are 9-5 on MNF and have won their last three games. Mike Tirico and Jon Gruden will call the action with sideline reporter Lisa Salters.

Televised on ESPN and ESPN Deportes, MNF will also be available at (computers) and via the WatchESPN app (tablets) for those who receive video subscriptions from an affiliated provider.

Providing pre-game news and information, Chris Berman hosts the two-hour Monday Night Countdown at 6:30 p.m. on ESPN with analysts Cris CarterMike DitkaTom Jackson and Keyshawn Johnson and NFL Insiders Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter. On-site host Stuart Scott, analysts Trent Dilfer and Steve Young, columnist Rick Reilly and Salters will join the studio crew from the stadium. Highlights:

  • “Showdown Sunday” Recap: Countdown will recap Sunday’s NFL games with highlights, in-depth analysis, the latest news and reactions focusing primarily on the six matchups between teams with winning records.
  • “Gruden Extra” with Jake Locker:  Second-year Tennessee quarterback Jake Locker, who participated in Gruden’s QB Camp before the 2011 NFL Draft, joins Jon Gruden in the MNF bus to discuss his first season as a starting quarterback in the NFL.
  • Soundtracks – Jets Season:  In this week’s “Soundtracks,” Countdown will feature key in-game audio from head coach Rex Ryan and the New York Jets throughout the 2012 season.

Snickers NFL Matchup – Patriots Play-Action Passing; Giants Red Zone Offense; Broncos Blitz Schemes; and More

NFL Matchup host Sal Paolantonio and analysts Ron Jaworski and Merril Hoge will preview the weekend’s key matchups by taking viewers inside the film room with X’s and O’s analysis Sunday, Dec. 16, at 6:30 a.m. on ESPN (ESPN2 at 8:30 a.m.).  Highlights:

  • Blitz Breakdown – Roethlisberger Pressured:  Hoge shows two blitz concepts by the San Diego Chargers from last week that overwhelmed the Pittsburgh Steelers pass protection and forced a sack on quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
  • “X and O Files” – Tony Romo Interception: The Cowboys battle to make the playoffs continues at home against the Steelers, who have the best defense in the NFL. Jaworski uses an interception quarterback Tony Romo threw against the Washington Redskins to show how Romo was confused by a disguised coverage.
  • “Between the Lines” – Giants Red Zone, Manning to Bennett:  Jaworski uses the telestrator to show how the New York Giants dictate successful one-on-one matchups between tight end Martellus Bennett and opposing linebackers in the Red Zone.
  • Hoge Breakdown – Kaepernick 50-yard Touchdown: Hoge explains how the San Francisco 49ers have added the read-option into their offense to create extra dimensions to their run game.
  • “Coaches Clicker” – Bears’ Struggles in Run Defense: After allowing 141 rushing yards per game in the last five games, Hoge shows how the Chicago Bears defensive struggles result from poor linebacker play.
  • Shot Play – Patriots Play Action Pass: Jaworski describes how the New England Patriots use multiple tight ends and run action to influence the safeties on a play-action that resulted in a touchdown to wide receiver Brandon Lloyd.
  • “Game Changer” – Broncos Blitz Sack:  The Denver Broncos have 15 sacks from blitzes this season.  Jaworski shows a successful blitz with linebacker Von Miller coming off the edge to get to Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton.
  • “The Money Down” – Andrew Luck to Reggie Wayne on Third and 17: The Indianapolis Colts lead the league in third and 10-plus yards conversions. Jaworski explains how Andrew Luck’s quarterbacking attributes allow him to move in the pocket and convert downfield throws on crucial third-down situations. “Hot Read” – Are College Coaches Back in Style?

In this week’s “Hot Read,” senior writer Jeffri Chadiha reports that current Oregon coach Chip Kelly and other college coaches are about to follow in the NFL coaching trail blazed by the recent successes of Seahawks Pete Carroll, 49ers Jim Harbaugh, and Buccaneers Greg Schiano. Chadiha’s story is a centerpiece of an “Hot Read” in-depth package that examines college coaches and the NFL.  Highlights:

  • Chadiha handicaps the five college coaches who could win immediately in the NFL;
  • columnist Gene Wojciechowski picks the top 10 coaching jobs in football – NFL and college;
  • NFL senior writer John Clayton explores why Nick Saban might contemplate vacating the throne as King of Alabama for Cleveland; and
  • College football writer Chris Lowe asks “Why did Steve Spurrier fail in NFL?”

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