NBC Sports

NBC, the only network with two primetime NFL packages, names broadcast teams for 2016 season

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STAMFORD, Conn. – Al Michaels (play-by-play), Cris Collinsworth (analyst), and Heather Cox (sideline reporter) will call NBC’s new Thursday Night Football package. Michaels and Collinsworth return to call NBC’s Sunday Night Football – primetime TV’s No. 1 show for a historic five consecutive years – joined by sideline reporter Michele Tafoya.

Bob Costas, a 27-time Sports Emmy winner, will serve as the host of the pregame show for NBC’s new Thursday Night Football package. He will be joined at the game site by Hall of Fame coach Tony Dungy and two-time Super Bowl champion Rodney Harrison.

Mike Tirico will host Sunday night’s Football Night in America, the most-watched weekly studio show in sports, from the SNF game site. Tirico will be joined on site by Collinsworth and Tafoya. Tirico recently joined NBC Sports Group after 25 years at ESPN, where he spent the last decade as the play-by-play voice of Monday Night Football.

Costas and Tirico will both be on-site in Arizona for FNIA leading into the season premiere of SNF on Sunday, Sept. 11. Costas will also work on select Sunday FNIA telecasts during the season, as well as on the pregame show for the season-opening NFL Kickoff game on Thurs., Sept. 8.

Dan Patrick co-hosts Football Night from NBC Sports Group’s International Broadcast Center in Stamford, Conn., joined by Dungy, Harrison, and Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk on NBCSN and NBCSports.com. NFL Insider Peter King will contribute stories and information to FNIA and TNF.

Sam Flood is executive producer of NBC Sports and NBCSN. Fred Gaudelli is the executive producer of NBC’s Sunday Night Football and Thursday Night Football. Drew Esocoff is director of SNF and TNF.

NBC TO BROADCAST 28 NFL GAMES IN 2016: NBC begins its 11th consecutive season as the primetime broadcast home of the NFL.  In the 2016 season, NBC will broadcast 28 NFL games — 19 regular-season games as part of its Sunday Night Football package (17 regular-season SNF games, NFL Kickoff 2016, and the annual Thanksgiving night game), five primetime regular-season Thursday games as part of a new two-year agreement to televise Thursday Night Football, two NFL Playoff games, and two primetime preseason games. NBC Sports will also produce four TNF games to be televised on NFL Network, two of which will be called by Mike Tirico and Doug Flutie due to schedule conflicts for Michaels and Collinsworth.

NBCSPORTS.COM & NBC SPORTS APP TO LIVE STREAM NBC’S SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL AND THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app will live stream NBC’s Sunday Night Football and Thursday Night Football games to desktops and tablets for authenticated pay-TV subscribers via TV Everywhere. The full HD-quality video stream will come directly from NBC’s SNF and TNF broadcasts. Powered by Playmaker Media, the NBC Sports app is available on Apple iOS, Android and select Samsung devices, as well as on Amazon Fire, Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, Win10, and Xbox. (NOTE: NBC Sports does not have NFL live streaming rights to mobile devices.)

SNF IS NO. 1 PRIMETIME PROGRAM ON TELEVISION: NBC’s Sunday Night Football finished the 2015-16 season as television’s No. 1 primetime show in household rating (13.0) and viewership (22.5 million average) for the fifth consecutive season, based on live plus same day data from The Nielsen Company (September-May). Sunday Night Football also ranked as the No. 1 show in the advertiser-coveted 18-49 demographic for the sixth consecutive TV season.

Sunday Night Football is one of only four shows since 1950 to rank No. 1 in primetime for five consecutive TV seasons (September-May, based on Nielsen live plus same day data).

2016 NBC SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL SCHEDULE
Thurs. Sept. 8 NFL Kickoff  Carolina Panthers at Denver Broncos
Sun. Sept. 11 Week 1   New England Patriots at Arizona Cardinals
Sun. Sept. 18 Week 2   Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings
Sun. Sept. 25 Week 3   Chicago Bears at Dallas Cowboys
Sun. Oct. 2 Week 4 Kansas City Chiefs at Pittsburgh Steelers
*Sun. Oct. 9 Week 5   New York Giants at Green Bay Packers
*Sun. Oct. 16 Week 6 Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans
*Sun. Oct. 23 Week 7 Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals
*Sun. Oct. 30 Week 8 Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys
*Sun. Nov. 6 Week 9 Denver Broncos at Oakland Raiders
*Sun. Nov. 13 Week 10 Seattle Seahawks at New England Patriots
*Sun. Nov. 20 Week 11  Green Bay Packers at Washington Redskins
**Thurs. Nov. 24 Week 12 Pittsburgh Steelers at Indianapolis Colts
*Sun. Nov. 27 Week 12 New England Patriots at New York Jets
*Sun. Dec. 4 Week 13 Carolina Panthers at Seattle Seahawks
*Sun. Dec. 11 Week 14 Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants
*Sun. Dec. 18 Week 15 Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals
Sun. Dec. 25 Week 16 Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs
*Sun. Jan. 1 Week 17 TBD

*Flex Week

** Thanksgiving Night Game

2016 NBC THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL SCHEDULE
Thurs. Nov. 17 Week 11 New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers
Thurs. Dec. 1 Week 13   Dallas Cowboys at Minnesota Vikings
Thurs. Dec. 8 Week 14   Oakland Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs
Thurs. Dec. 15 Week 15 Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks
Thurs. Dec. 22 Week 16 New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles

FLEXIBLE SCHEDULING: Flexible scheduling will be used in Weeks 10-15 and 17. Additionally, in Weeks 5-9, flexible scheduling may be used in no more than two weeks. In Weeks 5-15, the schedule lists the games tentatively set for Sunday Night Football on NBC. Only Sunday afternoon games are eligible to be moved to Sunday night, in which case the tentatively scheduled Sunday night game would be moved to an afternoon start time. Flexible scheduling will not be applied to games airing on Thursday, Saturday or Monday nights.

A flexible scheduling move would be announced at least 12 days before the game. For Week 17, the Sunday night game will be announced no later than six days prior to January 1. The schedule does not list a Sunday night game in Week 17, but an afternoon game with playoff implications will be moved to that time slot. Flexible scheduling ensures quality matchups in all Sunday time slots in those weeks and gives “surprise” teams a chance to play their way into prime time.

The NFL’s final 4 all overcame injuries to star players

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The list of players sitting out this weekend’s conference championships is almost as impressive as the starting lineups: Julian Edelman. Carson Wentz. Dalvin Cook. Dont'a Hightower. Allen Robinson. Sam Bradford.

Following the NFL’s season of carnage that claimed the likes of, among others, Aaron Rodgers, Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, J.J. Watt, Deshaun Watson, Odell Beckham Jr. and Joe Thomas, this year’s final four all overcame not only the odds – “Minneapolis Miracle , anyone?” – but devastating injuries to key starters.

“We have a tough and resilient team,” Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Chris Long said of the NFC’s top seed , which is missing its second-year QB in Wentz, an MVP hopeful when he blew out a knee in December.

Even before Wentz’s injury thrust backup Nick Foles into the starting job for the playoffs, the Eagles lost nine-time Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters, playmaking middle linebacker Jordan Hicks, versatile return specialist Darren Sproles, and special teams captain Chris Maragos.

Yet, here they are, 60 minutes from Minneapolis and Super Bowl 52.

“I think that starts at the top with Doug, because he sets the tone for being resilient and even keeled,” Long said of his coach, Doug Pederson. “At the end of the day, we have a tough group of guys.”

So do the Minnesota Vikings, who are trying to reach their first Super Bowl in more than four decades and fulfill mantra to “Bring it Home” and become the first NFL team to play the title game in its own stadium.

And they’re doing so behind Case Keenum, who crashed Tom Brady‘s playoff party along with fellow perennial backup Foles and Jacksonville Jaguars QB Blake Bortles.

Together, the four quarterbacks left standing have a combined five Super Bowl rings, two NFL MVP awards and four Super Bowl MVP trophies. Brady, of course, owns all of that hardware himself.

Such is the panorama of these playoffs following a season of pain in which so many superstars were rendered sideline spectators with broken bones, snapped ligaments, torn muscles.

Keenum replaced an injured Bradford, who had replaced an injured Teddy Bridgewater. Bradford, now back in uniform as Keenum’s backup, blew out a knee in the first month of the season, as did rookie running back in Cook, who needed reconstructive surgery to repair a torn ACL.

Behind resilient coach Mike Zimmer , who resisted the urge to quit just before he got the Vikings’ head coaching gig in 2014, Minnesota rolled right along. Keenum deftly took over for Bradford, and Jerick McKinnon and Latavius Murray became a productive backfield tandem.

“We’ve got a bunch of fighters on this team,” Zimmer said. “They’ve been a resilient bunch all year long. I expect it to continue to be that way.”

The Patriots are also a bunch of fighters; they reached their seventh straight AFC title game despite losing Edelman, Brady’s top target, to a torn ACL in the preseason, and Hightower to a torn chest muscle in November.

Play caller Josh McDaniels and Brady, who led New England to a fifth Super Bowl title last year despite the absence of Rob Gronkowski, adjusted accordingly to Edelman’s absence with another terrific year.

Linebacker Kyle Van Noy stepped in for Hightower and ranked third on the team with 73 tackles and second with 5+ sacks despite missing three of the final five games with a calf injury.

Van Noy’s sack total was just a half-sack shy of Hightower’s career high set in 2014.

“The thing about K.V. is he’s very versatile,” said Patriots safety and defensive captain Devin McCourty. “So we’ve used him a bunch of different ways. … He’s been a big asset to our team.”

The Jaguars are the healthiest of the remaining playoff teams. They have only one opening-day starter on injured reserve: former Pro Bowl receiver Robinson, who tore his left ACL on Jacksonville’s opener.

Four months removed from reconstructive surgery, Robinson is now traveling with the team, so he’ll be on the sideline Sunday at New England, serving as a mentor to a raw receiving corps.

“Every person in this locker room put in a lot of work to get to this point, with me being one of them,” said Robinson, who was poised for another big year after dominating the league’s best secondary in training camp.

His injury on Jacksonville’s third offensive snap created a huge void for the offense. Marqise Lee and Allen Hurns tried to pick up the slack, but they ended up on the sideline at one point with injuries, too, leaving rookies Keelan Cole and Dede Westbrook to assume bigger roles.

Cole, an undrafted rookie from tiny Kentucky Wesleyan, had 42 catches for 748 yards and three scores in the regular season. He added a clutch 45-yard catch that set up a late TD in Jacksonville’s 45-42 stunner at Pittsburgh last week.

“I wish I could just wake up tomorrow and feel like I did Sept. 9,” Robinson said, “but I understand it’s going to be a process. I know I’ll be back to that point and better.”

Like so many other stars, Robinson will be in street clothes Sunday, cheering on his teammates in hopes of getting a sideline pass to the Super Bowl.

For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

With contributions from AP Pro Football Writers Rob Maaddi and Dave Campbell and AP Sports Writers Mark Long and Kyle Hightower.

Follow Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton

Steratore will lead 7-person officiating crew for Super Bowl

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NEW YORK (AP) Referee Gene Steratore will lead the seven-person crew of on-field game officials working the Super Bowl at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

The other members of the officiating crew for the Feb. 4 game are Roy Ellison (umpire), Jerry Bergman (down judge), Byron Boston (line judge), Tom Hill (field judge), Scott Edwards (side judge) and Perry Paganelli (back judge).

The crew has 127 years of NFL officiating experience and 101 combined playoff game assignments.

Steratore entered the league in 2003 as a field judge and was promoted to referee in 2006. He has officiated 11 playoff games, including two conference championships. He was the alternate referee for the 2010 Super Bowl.

Under the NFL officiating program’s evaluation system, officials must be rated in the top tier at their position to be eligible for the Super Bowl. They must have at least five years of NFL experience and previous playoff assignments.

Paul Weidner is the replay official.

For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP-NFL