ESPN NFL Programming Update – NFL Conference Championship and NFLPA Collegiate Bowl


ESPN NFL Programming Update – NFL Conference Championship and NFLPA Collegiate Bowl

Conference Championship Sunday NFL Countdown Begins at 12 p.m. ET

Sunday NFL Countdown with Chris Berman, Cris Carter, Mike Ditka, Tom Jackson, Keyshawn Johnson, Suzy Kolber, Merril Hoge and Ron Jaworski will preview the NFL Conference Championship games on Sunday, Jan 20, beginning at the special time of 12 p.m. NFL Insider Adam Schefter and senior analyst Chris Mortensen will report the day’s news.

Sal Paolantonio will host NFL Matchup with analysts Merril Hoge and Ron Jaworski Sunday at 6:30 a.m. each day (reairs on ESPN2 at 8:30 a.m.).  NFL PrimeTime with host Berman, and analysts Trent Dilfer and Tom Jackson will air Sunday at 11 p.m.

On-site reporters at the Conference Championship games:  Conference championship pre- and post-game:  Reporters assigned to each team in the championship – Colleen Dominguez (San Francisco) and Ed Werder (Atlanta); Sal Paolantonio (Baltimore) and Rachel Nichols (New England). 

ESPN’s NFL studio programming on Conference Championship weekend:

Date Time (ET) Show Networks
Fri, Jan 18 4 p.m. NFL Live presented by Radio ShackTrey Wingo, Tedy Bruschi and Mark Schlereth ESPN
  5 p.m. NFL32 Suzy Kolber, Chris Mortensen, Tim Hasselbeck ESPN2
  7 p.m. NFL KickoffWingo, Schlereth and Bruschi ESPN2
  8:30 p.m. Profile:60 – Ray LewisESPN’s award-winning newsmagazine E:60 profiles the Baltimore Ravens leader   ESPN2
Sun, Jan 20 6:30 a.m. NFL MatchupPaolantonio, Hoge and Jaworski ESPN(ESPN2 @ 8:30 a.m.)
  12 p.m. Sunday NFL Countdown presented by IBM (3 hours)Chris Berman, Cris Carter, Mike Ditka, Tom Jackson, Keyshawn Johnson, Suzy Kolber, Merril Hoge and Ron Jaworski ESPN
  11 p.m. NFL PrimeTimeBerman, Dilfer and Jackson ESPN

Sunday NFL Countdown:

  • Boomer with the Smiths:  The San Francisco 49ers’ Aldon Smith and Justin Smith are arguably the toughest defensive tandem in the league. Going into their second straight NFC title game, they sit down with Countdown’s Chris Berman to share secrets of their success.
  • Soundtracks – Tom Brady: Last Sunday against the Texans, New England’s Tom Brady surpassed his childhood hero, Joe Montana, in playoff victories with his 17th win.  The quarterback’s in-game audio from last Sunday will be the subject of this week’s Soundtracks.
  • Lee Evans Remembers: Last year, with time winding down in the AFC Championship, Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco hit wide receiver Lee Evans for what would have been the go-ahead touchdown and a trip to the Super Bowl. The ball was stripped from Evans and a missed field goal later the Ravens season was over.  A year later, Adam Schefter revisits the play and how it has impacted Evans.
  • Field Pass:  Live look-ins at quarterbacks Colin Kaepernick and Matt Ryan, running back Frank Gore, and wide receivers Julio Jones and Roddy White during their pregame routines leading into the 3 p.m. NFC Championship
  • Frank Caliendo:  The witty comedian returns to impersonate Hall of Famer and Countdown analyst Mike Ditka and popular radio host Jim Rome.

NFL Matchup:

  • Ron Jaworski shows how the Atlanta Falcons used a fake wide receiver screen to get wide receiver Roddy White one on one with Seattle Seahawks Richard Sherman.
  • Jaworski covers the field to show how the 49ers offense will expose the voids in Atlanta’s “Cover 3” defensive scheme with their tight end, just like Seattle did with Zach Miller on Sunday.
  • Merril Hoge takes a look at how receiver Michael Crabtree has emerged as the 49ers ‘go-to’ guy with 80 percent of his third down catches converting for first downs in the last six games.
  • Jaworski explains the mechanics of the 49ers “Pistol Read-Option,” and shows how quarterback Colin Kaepernick decided to keep the ball for a 56-yard touchdown run.
  • Hoge breaks down how the Falcons defense used a simple approach to take away the Seahawks “Read-Option.”
  • Hoge uses the “Coaches Clicker” to explain how the Ravens executed a very successful run game against Denver.
  • Jaworski uses the telestrator in a segment on Ravens offense taking deep shots to receiver Torrey Smith when they have man coverage from New England’s defense.
  • Jaworski analyzes the Patriots use of the speed offense with no huddle to catch defenses off-guard, and how it allows New England’s offense to gain easy yards vs. a compromised defense.

Profile:60 – Ray Lewis (ESPN2, Friday, Jan. 18 at 8:30 p.m.)        

As part of its critically acclaimed “Profile:60” series, ESPN’s award-winning news magazine E:60 will debut a feature on Baltimore linebacker and team leader Ray Lewis, who announced he will end his 17-year professional career at the conclusion of the Ravens playoff run. The 30-minute profile includes highlights of a Rachel Nichols’ E:60 piece that captures the budding relationship between Ray Lewis and his previously absent father, new and updated video of Lewis as he leads the Ravens in their current playoff run – his last hurrah – and as he contemplates his impending retirement. on the NFL Conference Championships

This week, senior writers Elizabeth Merrill penned a revealing story and Jeffri Chadiha wrote a column about the Conference Championships.  Highlights  

  • In “No second chance for Evans, Cundiff,” Merrill writes that while the two defining images of Baltimore Ravens 2012 AFC Championship – kicker Billy Cundiff missing a 32-yard field goal and receiver Lee Evans fumbling a on a game-winning touchdown catch – provided an impetus for the team’s return to the championship game Sunday, for Cundiff and Evans, there is no second chance.
  • In “Harbaugh’s big risk will pay off,” Chadiha posits that the reason San Francisco 49ers will win the Super Bowl is not only because they have a dynamic offense, defense and the experience of last year’s home loss in the NFC Championship, but because their head coach Jim Harbaugh won the biggest gamble of the NFL season.

ESPN Radio:

Countdown To Kickoff (Sunday 12-3 p.m.) with host Mike Hill will preview Sunday’s games. Guests include ESPN analysts Tom Jackson, Ron Jaworski and Merril Hoge, insiders Chris Mortensen and John Clayton, and on-site game reporters as well as newsmakers from around the league. Sunday night programming will feature extensive post-game coverage of both games.

ESPN2 Presents the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl on Saturday

ESPN2 will televise the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl Presented by Winnol on Saturday, Jan. 19, at 6 p.m. Joe Tessitore will call the action with analysts Todd McShay and Bill Polian and reporter Quint Kessenich.

Leading up to the game, ESPNU will televise a pair of two-hour practices on Thursday, Jan. 17, at 1:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. Host Dari Nowkhah and college football analyst Robert Smith will join McShay, Polian and Kessenich for practice coverage. ESPN’s Herm Edwards will coach one of the teams.

The collegiate all-star game and practices – which take place at The Home Depot Center on the campus of California State University Dominguez Hills in Carson, Calif., – will also be available on WatchESPN for those with video subscriptions from an affiliated provider.                                                                                                                     

Date Time (ET) Show Networks
Thu, Jan 17 1:30 p.m. NFLPA Collegiate Bowl Practice Presented by Winnol ESPNU, WatchESPN
  4:30 p.m. NFLPA Collegiate Bowl Practice Presented by Winnol ESPNU, WatchESPN
Sat, Jan 19 6 p.m. NFLPA Collegiate Bowl Presented by Winnol ESPN2, WatchESPN

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Mac Nwulu

I joined ESPN in 1998 and since then, it's been a great experience managing PR and communications for a range of ESPN initiatives and properties over the years. I am currently focused on soccer and The Undefeated, ESPN’s site focusing on sports, race and urban culture and how they intersect.
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