Sunday NFL Countdown host Chris Berman and analysts Cris Carter, Mike Ditka, Tom Jackson and Keyshawn Johnson, will preview the NFL’s final regular-season games on Sunday, Dec. 29, at 10 a.m. ET. The three-hour program will also feature NFL insiders Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter reporting the day’s news from across the league.
ESPN reporters will provide on-site updates from seven games during Sunday NFL Countdown:
- Josina Anderson (Jets at Dolphins)
- Michele Steele (Panthers at Falcons)
- Bob Holtzman (Ravens at Bengals)
- Mark Schwarz (Browns at Steelers)
- Sal Paolantonio (Packers at Bears)
- Shelley Smith (Chiefs at Chargers)
- Ed Werder (Eagles at Cowboys)
- Eagle-Cowboys Rivalry: If Eagles vs. Cowboys is not the most famous rivalry in football, it has arguably been the league’s nastiest. From the 1980 NFC Championship, through Buddy Ryan and “the Bounty Bowl,” to this week’s “win-and-get-into-the-
playoffs” game, reporter Jeremy Schaap presents the classic moments from this NFC East rivalry.
- Reviewing Bears Quarterback Decision: Perhaps no quarterback is under more scrutiny this weekend than the Bears’ Jay Cutler since he replaced Josh McCown, who played so well while Cutler was out with an injury. Countdown takes a closer look at how the Bears’ decision to go back to Cutler has played out.
- Childhood Friends and Chargers Fans Share an Organ: Two childhood friends lost touch for decades until, coincidentally, they wound up getting Chargers’ season tickets sitting next to each other. As they shared their seats at games, one friend found out the other desperately needed a new kidney. SportsCenter anchor Lindsay Czarniak reports the story on how a meeting between childhood friends decades later became a life saver.
- Cam Newton Soundtracks: Panthers quarterback Cam Newton was wired for in-game audio during Carolina’s week 14 win over the Jets and is the subject of this week’s Soundtracks.
- DJ Steve Porter-Sounds of 2013 Season: DJ Steve Porter offers a mix-up of audio from the memorable moments of the 2013 season, including Redskins’ Robert Griffin III and head coach Mike Shanahan, Eagles coach Chip Kelly and his insistence on not naming a starting quarterback, and more.
NFL Matchup: Bears Pass Protection, Protecting Ryan Tannehill, Eagles Defensive Line Stunts, and More
NFL Matchup host 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 on Saturday, Dec. 28, at 8:30 a.m. on ESPN2 (re-air on ESPN, Sunday at 6:30 a.m.). Highlights:
- Inside the Matchup – Andy Dalton Sack vs. Ravens: Hoge goes inside the matchup and explains how Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton is a timing and rhythm passer who is at his best when he hits his back foot and the ball comes out.
- The Money Down – Ray Rice Pass Protection: Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco has struggled this season on third downs with his line giving up 23 sacks. Hoge goes inside the matchup to show how running back Ray Rice has equally struggled when called upon to pass-protect.
- Passing Thought – Cam Newton to Ted Ginn on 37-yard Throw: With a minute left in the fourth quarter at home vs. the Saints, quarterback Cam Newton drove the Panthers 65 yards down the field for a comeback victory that clinched the team’s first playoff berth since 2008. Jaworski breaks down Newton’s arm strength and his ability to deliver when the pocket is muddied.
- Blitz Breakdown – Ryan Tannehill Third Down Blitz Sack vs. the Bills: Hoge shows how the Dolphins offensive line has struggled with blitz recognition and blocking execution, a problem the team must fix to have a chance in Sunday’s must-win game for playoff contention.
- Jaws Playbook – Keenan Allen 29 yards out of Bunch versus Chiefs: Jaworski goes to the playbook to explain how the Chargers bunch set created some difficulties for the Chiefs defense in their first meeting.
- Let’s see it Hoge – Bears Pass Protection: Over the last two weeks, the Bears have struggled with pass protection, contends Hoge as he isolates the weaknesses with the offensive line and running back Matt Forte in blocking for quarterback Jay Culter.
- Between the Lines – Drew Brees’ Audible: Jaworski goes between the lines to explain how quarterback Drew Brees’ pre-snap audible at the line of scrimmage sets up the Saints for success.
- Hoge Breakdown – Cowboys Run Defense vs. Eagles: In their first matchup, the Cowboys defense held LeSean McCoy to 55 yards. With quarterback Tony Romo questionable for the game, the poor Cowboys defense will need to have a similar performance against the Eagles again. Hoge shows how the Dallas defense was able to control the Eagles offense in their first meeting.
- The Film Room – Eagles Defensive Stunts: The Eagles are a blitz heavy team, which makes their disguise tough for opponents to read. Jaworski goes to the film room to show how Eagles defensive coordinator Bill Davis is creative with stunts and coverage concepts, including blitz packages that could confuse the Cowboys offense on Sunday.
ESPN.com “Hot Read” on how Panthers Thomas Davies Recovered from Three ACL Surgeries
In this week’s ESPN.com “NFL Hot Read,” writer Tommy Tomlinson captures how Panthers Thomas Davies became the first NFL player to overcome three anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears on one knee. The story also chronicles the rehabilitation Davies underwent to become one of the top linebackers in the league.