Chris Berman traveled to the Pacific Northwest this week for interviews with the Seattle Seahawks “Legion of Boom” defensive unit, quarterback Russell Wilson and head coach Pete Carroll. The Seahawks conversations – along with Part 2 of Berman’s sit-down with Patriots three-time Super Bowl champion quarterback Tom Brady – will anchor ESPN’s Postseason NFL Countdown (Sunday, Jan. 18, 12 p.m. ET) previewing the NFC and AFC Conference Championships.
Berman will host with analysts Cris Carter, Mike Ditka, Tom Jackson, Keyshawn Johnson and Ray Lewis. Wendi Nix, Merril Hoge and Insiders Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen will also contribute to the three-hour pregame show from ESPN’s headquarters in Bristol, Conn.
Reporters at Championship games:
- NFC: Bob Holtzman (covering Packers) and Ed Werder (Seahawks)
- AFC: Josina Anderson (Colts) and Sal Paolantonio (Patriots)
- Bam Bam Kam: Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor opened eyes last week vs. the Panthers with his interception return for a touchdown and amazing leaps on special teams. Berman sits with the vaunted Seahawks “Legion of Boom” defensive secondary and head coach Pete Carroll to relive some of “Bam Bam” Kam’s hardest hits.
- Tom Brady Convo – Part II: Last weekend, Countdown aired a one-on-one interview between Berman and Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. Sunday’s program will feature part two of their conversation.
- Reggie Wayne Convo – Part II: The second part of the sit-down conversation between Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne and Countdown’s Ray Lewis.
- Caliendo – Coaches Drinking Coffee: Borrowing a page from Jerry Seinfeld’s popular “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee,” Countdown impersonator Frank Caliendo finds the diner where Rex Ryan explored TV jobs before taking the head coaching position this week with the Buffalo Bills. The skit will also feature Rob Ryan and Bill Belichick at the same diner.
- Inspired by Ric Flair: Countdown examines postgame celebrations in the Colts locker room where safety Sergio Brown has become an inspiration to his teammates with his firebrand speeches reminiscent of famed wrestler “Nature Boy” Ric Flair.
- Receivers Gloves: Reporter Jim Trotter examines the evolution in quality of the gloves used by wide receivers over the years and how it has rendered the impact of the elements – freezing cold or soaking rain – irrelevant in the passing game.
NFL Matchup Previews Conference Championship Games
Sal Paolantonio, Merril Hoge and Ron Jaworski kick off ESPN’s NFL Conference Championship coverage with a 30-minute NFL Matchup on Saturday, January 17, at 8:30 a.m. on ESPN2. Features:
Green Bay at Seattle
- Let’s See it Hoge – Seahawks Spy Aaron Rodgers: Despite limited mobility last week, Aaron Rodgers still remains dangerous when he extends the play, something Hoge says the Seahawks will defend by using a spying defender.
- Inside the Matchup – Rodgers to Cobb Third Down Connection: Jaworski describes the nuances of the chemistry between Aaron Rodgers and receiver Randall Cobb, especially on critical situations when the Packers offense needs a big play to move the chains.
- Jaws Playbook – Russell Wilson’s Play Action Pass: Jaworski highlights the difficulties of defending the Seahawks’ play action pass and says the Packers defense must combine eye discipline and zone discipline to be successful.
- Factor Back – Marshawn Lynch Run: Hoge shows a run the Seahawks used in their season-opening game and explains why the Packers will defend it better on Sunday.
Indianapolis at New England
- Game Within the Game – Coby Fleener vs. Brandon Browner: In their week 11 matchup, Fleener outplayed Browner – catching five passes for 118 yards. Hoge previews the rematch and offers the adjustments the Patriots must make.
- Between the Lines – Patriots Pass Game versus Man Coverage: According to Jaworski, the Colts will play a lot of man coverage on defense to challenge Patriots receivers in an attempt to take quarterback Tom Brady out of his rhythm in the passing game.
- X and O Files – Hightower Spies Luck: Hoge explains how the Patriots can account for the mobility of Colts quarterback Andrew Luck by assigning a defender to shadow his movements in the pocket and to be a deterrent against a scrambling Luck.
- Run to Daylight – LeGarrette Blount: Hoge shows a long run by bruising running back LeGarrette Blount last year and contends the Colts must play more physical on defense to slow down the Patriots running game.
- The Red Zone – Andrew Luck: Jaworski shows how hard it is for opposing defenses to account for all the play makers on the Colts offense, exemplified by Luck’s ability to extend plays.
Weekend NFL Programming Schedule:
|Sat, Jan 17||8:30-9 a.m.||NFL Matchup||ESPN2|
|Sun, Jan 18||3-3:30 a.m.||NFL Matchup (re-air)||ESPN|
|6:30-7 a.m.||NFL Matchup (re-air)||ESPN|
|9-10 a.m.||Colin’s Football Show||ESPN2|
|12-3 p.m.||Postseason NFL Countdown||ESPN|
|11 p.m.-12 a.m.||NFL Primetime||ESPN|
ESPN.com Coverage of NFL Conference Championships
ESPN.com and ESPN Boston will dispatch multiple columnists and team reporters to the conference championship games on Sunday:
- ESPN.com NFL Nation reporters Rob Demovsky (Packers) and Terry Blount (Seahawks), senior writers John Clayton and Elizabeth Merrill, and Insider writer Mike Sando will cover Packers at Seahawks.
- NFL Nation reporters Mike Wells (Colts) and Mike Reiss (Patriots), senior writer Jeffri Chadiha, and columnists Jackie MacMullan and Ian O’Connor will cover Colts at Patriots.
ESPN.com senior NFL columnist Jeffri Chadiha writes that in light of rules that tilt favorably toward offense, the Seahawks might have the NFL’s last great defense.
Brett Favre to Appear on ESPN Radio’s Mike and Mike on Friday Morning
Longtime Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre will be a guest on ESPN Radio’s Mike and Mike on Friday morning at 8 a.m. ET (simulcast on ESPN2). The future Pro Football Hall of Famer will preview the championship games this weekend and discuss other NFL topics.
Draft-Eligible College Football Players Compete in NFLPA Collegiate Bowl on Saturday
ESPN2 will spotlight college football players who are eligible for the 2015 NFL Draft in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl on Saturday, Jan. 17, at 4 p.m. Anish Shroff will call the game with analysts Greg McElroy and Todd McShay, reporter Quint Kessenich and college football and NFL Draft analyst Kevin Weidl of Scouts Inc.
Additionally, ESPNU will televise two practices this afternoon (Thursday) at 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. Offering fans an up-close look at what it takes to prepare for the National Football League, former NFL head coaches Mike Holmgren and Mike Martz will wear microphones during these two-hour sessions while they instruct the American and National team, respectively. Shroff, McElroy, Kessenich and Weidl provide analysis throughout the practices along with analyst Dan Hawkins and ESPN Front Office Insider and Pro Football Hall of Fame finalist Bill Polian.
Live from the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif., the events are also available on WatchESPN for fans with video subscriptions from affiliated providers.
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