ESPN NFL Programming Update – Wild Card Weekend


ESPN NFL Programming Update – Wild Card Weekend

ESPN’s  NFL Wild Card Weekend coverage features two editions of Sunday NFL Countdown – a two-hour special Saturday, Jan. 4, at 11 a.m. ET, and the regular three-hour edition Sunday, Jan. 5, at 10 a.m. Chris Berman hosts both shows with analysts Cris Carter, Mike Ditka, Tom Jackson, Keyshawn Johnson and Ray Lewis; and NFL Insider Adam Schefter and senior analyst Chris Mortensen with news from around the league.

NFL Matchup with host Sal Paolantonio and analysts Merril Hoge and Ron Jaworski will also feature Saturday and Sunday editions on ESPN at 6:30 a.m. each day (reairs on Saturday at 8:30 a.m. on ESPN2).  NFL PrimeTime will air two live shows – late Saturday at midnight (9 a.m. PT) and Sunday at 8 p.m.  Additionally, Trey Wingo will host a two-hour SportsCenter Special: Wild Card Weekend Sunday at 9 p.m. on ESPN2, recapping the weekend and looking ahead to the NFL Divisional Playoff round. 

ESPN’s NFL studio programming on the Wild Card Playoff weekend:

Date Time (ET) Show Networks
Fri, Jan 3 3 p.m. NFL Insiders ESPN
  4 p.m. NFL Live ESPN
  7 p.m. NFL Kickoff ESPN2
Sat, Jan 4 6:30 a.m. NFL Matchup ESPN
  11 a.m. Sunday NFL Countdown (2 hours) ESPN
  12 a.m. NFL Primetime ESPN
Sun, Jan 5 6:30 a.m. NFL Matchup ESPN
  10 a.m. Sunday NFL Countdown (3 hours) ESPN
  8 p.m. NFL Primetime ESPN
  9 p.m. SportsCenter Special (2 hours) ESPN2

On-site reporters at the four NFL Wild Card Weekend games:


Josina Anderson (Chiefs at Colts)

Paolantonio (Saints at Eagles)


Michelle Steele (Chargers) and Bob Holtzman (Cincinnati)

Ed Werder (San Francisco at Green Bay).

Sunday NFL Countdown (Saturday):

  • Finding a Champion: Six of the last eight Super Bowl champions have played on Wild Card Weekend. Countdown will review the dominant characteristics of those six Super Bowl winners and the panel will project forward to identify this weekend’s teams with the best chance to raise the Lombardi Trophy.
  • Predator Defense: After a slow start, the Eagles have become one of the most consistent defenses in the NFL. Paolantonio reports on the Eagles “Predator” defense and how it keyed the team’s run to the NFC East title.
  • Westlake High: Quarterbacks Drew Brees and Nick Foles are vastly different types of quarterbacks but they have one major thing in common:  they both hail from Westlake High School in Austin, Texas.  Longhorn Network’s Kaylee Hartung will make her Countdown debut with a report from Austin that takes a closer look at the high school careers of these two quarterbacks.
  • Eric Berry Soundtracks: The Chiefs defense dominated the NFL for most of the regular season and safety Eric Berry was a major part of that success. Soundtracks features some of the best in-game audio from Berry.
  • Tattoo League: Earlier this season, Countdown profiled one of the most unique fantasy football leagues in the country where the player who finishes in last place must get a tattoo chosen by the other league members. Following the conclusion of the fantasy football season, the program revisits the league to see what the loser’s tattoo.
  • Jaws Film Room: Ron Jaworski joins the show from the Film Room to break down how the Chiefs-Colts Week 16 game affects Saturday’s matchup and the differences in Drew Brees’ performance outdoors in cold weather versus at home in the Superdome.

Sunday NFL Countdown (Sunday):

  • Freezer Bowl: On Jan. 10, 1982, the Chargers traveled to Cincinnati to play in the AFC Championship game, the second coldest game in NFL History played at -9 degrees. Going into their Wild Card matchup on Sunday, Countdown relives the last two teams playoff meeting.
  • The Zimmers: Mike and Adam Zimmer are a rare combo in the NFL – father and son coaching on the same staff and building one of the best defenses in football. The Zimmers are not just bonded by family and football, they both carry the painful memory of the day Mike’s wife and Adam’s mom, Vikki, died unexpectedly. Countdown’s Tom Jackson visits with the Zimmers to find out how the father, a defensive coordinator, and son, defensive backs coach, both for the Bengals, work together and how they’ve kept the memory of Vikki Zimmer alive.
  • Philip Rivers Soundtracks: Philip Rivers was wired for in-game audio during the Chargers week 17 home victory over the Chiefs for a spot in the playoffs and is the subject of Soundtracks.
  • Aaron Rodgers’ Cause: The Green Bay Packers quarterback has taken a massive interest in efforts to stop the violence and injustice in the African nation of Congo.’s Greg Garber reports on Aaron Rodgers’ cause and follows the Super Bowl winning quarterback to a rally where he speaks about the campaign against violence in Congo.

NFL Matchup (Saturday):

  • Jaws Playbook – Donald Brown: Jaworski shows the most effective personnel grouping for the Colts offense and it includes running back Donald Brown.
  • Passing Thoughts — Alex Smith to Jamaal Charles: Against the Colts, the Chiefs must make big plays to be successful, such as the 71-yard touchdown throw by quarterback Alex Smith’s to Jamaal Charles during their week 15 win at Oakland Raiders, contends Jaworski.
  • Coaches Clicker — Sack vs. the Eagles: Hoge shows how the Eagles offensive line struggles against regular defensive line stunts.
  • Trent Cole Sack vs. the Bears: Using a play featuring a designed blitz by linebacker Trent Cole against the Bears in week 16, Hoge explains how a similar play will unsettle the explosive Saints offense and quarterback Drew Brees.

Snickers NFL Matchup features (Sunday):

  • Game within the Game – Giovani Bernard’s Blitz Pickup: Hoge shows how Giovani Bernard’s development as a blocking running back against blitzing defenders gives quarterback Andy Dalton time to complete key passes downfield for the Cincinnati Bengals.
  • Factor Back – Ryan Matthews: Hoge believes shows how running back Ryan Matthews is the “Factor Back” in the Chargers’ four-game winning streak.
  • Inside the Matchup – Philip Rivers: In their week 13 meeting, a 10-17 home loss, quarterback Philip Rivers was successful with vertical throws to Antonio Gates and Ladarius Green, and Jaworski explains how the Chargers offense must lineup both tight ends and throw the ball vertically to be successful on Sunday.
  • Jaws Playbook – Jordy Nelson in the Slot: Nelson is becoming a dominant receiver in the slot and will be key for quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers offense vs. 49ers, Jaworski posits.

Extensive Coverage of NFL Wild Card Weekend

In addition to ESPN’s television coverage of the NFL Wild Card Playoff weekend, will dispatch multiple NFL writers and divisional bloggers to all four games:

  • On Saturday, NFL Nation reporters Adam Teicher and Mike Wells and senior writer Jeff Chadiha will cover Chiefs at Colts in Indianapolis, while NFL Nation reporters Mike Triplett and Phil Sheridan and NFL columnist Ashley Fox will be at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia for Saints at Eagles.
  • On Sunday, NFL Nation reporters Eric Williams and Coley Harvey will cover Chargers at Bengals, while NFL Nation reporters Bill Williamson and Rob Demovsky, will join senior writer John Clayton and national NFL writer Kevin Seifert at Lambeau Field in Green Bay for the 49ers at Packers matchup.

In this week’s “Hot Read,” NFL Nation’s Cleveland Browns reporter Pat McManamon turns to key NFL experts to determine whether teams must experience and overcome playoff losses as part of the maturation process for winning the Super Bowl.

Click here for news and updates on the 2013 NFL Playoffs.

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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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