Here’s a Video of Joe Buck Name-Dropping Mumford & Sons at Troy Aikman’s Expense

It should go without saying that Joe Buck, and not Robert Christgau, is the current dean of American music critics – why, over the course of five seconds in the video below, he professes knowledge of cool, hip indie bands like M83 and Passion Pit and Phoenix! Of course, sometimes when you’re the most intellectual tastemaker in the country, you’ve got to step on other people’s toes for not being as hip to the jive as you are. Such is the case with Troy Aikman for having just found out who Mumford & Sons were. DON’T YOU REALIZE THAT “LITTLE LION MAN” STARTED MAKING WAVES BACK IN THE YEAR 2009, TROY? Next, you’ll be telling me you don’t know who Arcade Fire is.

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2013 Sunday Night Football Schedule Projections

Tomorrow is probably my favorite day of the entire offseason, for it is the day that the full NFL schedule gets announced . Sure, we knew who each team was playing the minute the 2012 regular season ended. But seeing the finished schedule with all the dates, times and networks finalized makes the whole thing seem so much more real – there’s just something about knowing that the Jaguars and Browns are going to play a 1 P.M. game on CBS on December 1st that brings me great inner peace. Then again, I’m a big weirdo, so maybe this doesn’t have the same effect for the rest of you. At any rate, I love Schedule Unveiling Day so much that I actually do my own projections of which matchups will get featured on the league’s showcase program: Sunday Night Football. And I’m providing those projections below so we can laugh at how wrong they are tomorrow night. It’ll be fun!

Update: Apparently the scheduling snafu with the Ravens’ opening night plans has caused further problems with the rest of the schedule, as NFL spokesman Greg Aiello performed the role of Scrooge and told Mike Florio that the schedule release is, in fact, NOT happening tomorrow night. WHY MUST YOU TAUNT ME SO, NFL???

Some notes on how I did the research for these projections:

Since Sunday Night Football moved to NBC and Monday Night Football moved to ESPN in 2006, Sunday Night Football has been the NFL’s “premier” prime-time telecast – meaning, they generally get the defending Super Bowl champion in at least three games a year, in addition to a bunch more games involving Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and/or the ratings gold NFC East teams. Monday Night Football, by contrast, usually gets the defending champion once and an overall slate of good but not great matchups.

Except in weird years where someone like the Seahawks gets into the playoffs with a 7-9 record, Sunday Night Football will usually feature each team from the previous year’s playoffs at least once a season. Also, no team can be scheduled for more than three games on Sunday Night Football, although it’s possible a team could get a fourth appearance as a flex matchup in the last seven weeks of the season.

Finally, keep in mind that even though Sunday Night Football is the highest-rated prime time telecast in the country, the late afternoon doubleheader game on either FOX or CBS actually scores higher ratings on average. So often the NFL saves its most compelling games for that late afternoon window, which is why you won’t see Peyton Manning’s return to Indianapolis listed in the Sunday Night Football matchups. CBS cares too much.

 And now, ranked in order of likelihood and with comments when deemed necessary…

Projected 2013 Sunday Night Football Matchups.

  1. New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys (or vice versa)
  2. Dallas Cowboys at Washington Redskins (or vice versa)
  3. Washington Redskins at New York Giants (or vice versa) – every year, Sunday Night Football gets a bare minimum of three NFC East divisional games. My assumption is the games involving the Redskins will probably be pushed back later in the season to ensure RGIII is playing.
  4. Baltimore Ravens at Denver Broncos 
  5. Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers (or vice versa) – with the Ravens having to open the season on the road, these are your two candidates for the opening Thursday night game of the season. I’m predicting it’ll be Ravens-Broncos, but Ravens/Steelers is a sure bet to be included on the schedule at some point.
  6. Denver Broncos at New England Patriots
  7. Denver Broncos at New York Giants – CBS got the last two Manning/Brady matchups, so it would seem appropriate that NBC get its first crack at the rivalry since 2009. And the two prior Peyton-Eli matchups were both on Sunday Night Football, so here’s guessing that pattern holds for Part III of that sibling rivalry.
  8. New England Patriots at Baltimore Ravens
  9. Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers
  10. Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers
  11. San Francisco 49ers at Washington Redskins
  12. Dallas Cowboys at Chicago Bears
  13. Houston Texans at San Francisco 49ers
  14. New England Patriots at Atlanta Falcons
  15. Atlanta Falcons at Green Bay Packers
  16. Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals
  17. Minnesota Vikings at Seattle Seahawks
  18. Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts

Now I’ll be the first to point out that less than half of these will actually be correct. The first five are the only ones that feel like complete slam dunks; the rest range from “decent chance” to “complete shot in the dark.” These are the activities that you’re left to do when there’s seven months of offseason. Tomorrow night can’t come soon enough!

2012 NFL Broadcasting Preview

NFL fans get uncontrollably excited when the start of a new NFL season rolls around – and justifiably so, I might add – but often forget to temper their excitement with the cold dose of reality that the likes of Shannon Sharpe and Tony Siragusa will be back in their lives, attempting to explain what has transpired on the field. If you’ve ever thought to yourself, “My word, I could announce these games ten times better than most of these fools,” you wouldn’t be wrong. However, there comes a time in every fan’s life where he must accept those things which he cannot control. And for football’s sake, let’s just run down all the commentator pairings for the upcoming season and try to find at least one nice thing to say about all of them.

FOX

  1. Joe Buck, Troy Aikman & Pam Oliver. Hmmm…actually, Aikman is actually capable of lucid insight on occasion (quite the feat considering how much he was concussed over his career); Buck always does a good job of alerting us to disgusting acts on the field; and holy crap, Pam Oliver is 51! She doesn’t look a day over 48.
  2. Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston & Tony Siragusa. Oh man…ummm….(thinking)…well, at least to our knowledge, no one on this crew has ever killed anyone or committed predatory acts on a child…so that’s something, I s’pose.
  3. Thom Brennaman, Brian Billick & Laura Okmin. When he isn’t predicting the 2012 NFL season to unfold exactly like the 2011 one did, Billick comes up with some real insight into how coaches prepare during the week and isn’t afraid to criticize players who’ve messed up; he’s one of the better analysts around. And Brennaman proves that there is still a place in broadcasting for pretentious blowhards who love ragging on players who commit unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, so more power to him; he’s an inspiration to millions, I’m sure.
  4. Dick Stockton, John Lynch & Jennifer Hale. Ughhhh…(deep sigh)…okay, so most of America thought that if you were an old, senile kook who couldn’t remember basic things like the first name of the 2011 NBA MVP, then you probably couldn’t still hold onto a job. But Dick Stockton showed them! Good job, Dick!
  5. Chris Myers, Tim Ryan & Jaime Maggio. Sideline reporting is one of the more useless occupations around, but Myers is one of the better ones. I’d comment on his play-by-play skills here, but I’m committed to only saying nice things.
  6. Sam Rosen, Heath Evans. God bless Sam Rosen! He’s an old pro at carrying the dumb-as-crap analysts he’s been saddled with over the years and trying to get the viewers to believe that the color commentary being provided during replays (“I want you to look at this guy. Look at him! He’s going…he’s going…BOOM. RIGHT THERE”) is actually cogent insight (“That’s a great point, Bill!”). No, it isn’t, Sam, but we appreciate your enthusiasm!
  7. Ron Pitts, Mike Martz. Finally, viewers have a chance to hear an expert talk about taking seven-step drops, leaving no extra blockers in for the offensive line, and explaining why not allowing your quarterback to make audibles at the line of scrimmage is a good idea. Can’t wait!

CBS

  1. Jim Nantz, Phil Simms. (Not going to say anything about Simms, not going to say anything about Simms)…well, Nantz does a credible job with play-by-play when he’s not bending over backwards to make his partner seem competent…and…they’re the new Madden broadcast team, I guess? So…yeah, not a whole lot of good things to say here.
  2. Greg Gumbel, Dan Dierdorf. Dan may bluster his way through an entire broadcast and Gumbel may always have his face stuffed full with mashed potatoes when he’s talking, but I will always thank Dierdorf for magically stumbling upon a great line: “If you’re a struggling kicker in the NFL, don’t buy any green bananas!” I realize this was a divine accident, but nevertheless: thank you, Dan.
  3. Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts. Ian Eagle pronounces his first name EYE-en instead of EEE-en. And he likes to talk about “a man’s jam!” during NCAA basketball telecasts. Nothing wrong with that.
  4. Marv Albert, Rich Gannon. Hey, Marv actually is one of the greatest sportscasters of our time. And since this is a positive column, we won’t mention his big weirdo creep off-field antics.
  5. Kevin Harlan, Solomon Wilcots. This crew is usually so bland that you hardly ever notice them…so they’re a big improvement over Tony Siragusa!
  6. Bill Macatee, Steve Tasker. This is actually a pretty solid crew; why are they stuck doing the likes of Jaguars-Browns games all season? Feel free to actually watch your announcing crews during the season, CBS.
  7. Spero Dedes, Steve Beuerlein. Spero Dedes has a super weird delivery which, luckily, takes some of the focus off of Steve Beuerlein’s idiocy.

NBC

  1. Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya. The best play-by-play guy alive and the best color analyst currently working combine with one of the blandest sideline reporters alive to create the best booth in the NFL.

ESPN

  1. Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden, Lisa Salters. Like Marv Albert, Tirico is a super weirdo creep outside of the broadcast booth, but quite a talented announcer inside of it. And Gruden’s cloying schtick may grown tiresome for many viewers, but THIS GUY chooses to embrace the unintentional comedy that Coach Gruden brings to the table. Just don’t ask him about Spider Two Y Banana.
  2. Chris Berman, Trent Dilfer (Sept. 10 Chargers vs. Raiders game). You’re with me, leather.

NFL Network

  1. Brad Nessler, Mike Mayock, Alex Flanagan. Mayock is currently the best analyst around not named Cris Collinsworth and also the owner of a mesmerizing lisp.

To close out this broadcasting preview, here’s a preliminary look at how the Sunday Night Football and Monday Night Football packages look in comparison to past years (as measured by combined previous season win percentage). Not looking too shabby at all.

Sunday Night Football

  1. 2008 (344-168, .6719)
  2. 2012 (378-198, .6563)
  3. 2011 (356-188, .6544)
  4. 2009 (332-177-3, .6514)
  5. 2006 (207-113, .6469)
  6. 2010 (346-198, .6360)
  7. 2007 (335-209, .6158)

Monday Night Football

  1. 2010 (320-224, .5882)
  2. 2012 (315-229, .5790)
  3. 2011 (311-233, .5717)
  4. 2009 (310-233-1, .5708)
  5. 2007 (306-238, .5625)
  6. 2008 (306-238, .5625)
  7. 2006 (301-243, .5533)