NFL Playoff Schedule Is Released And Makes For Interesting Network Match-Ups

By Jesse Carp 2012-01-02 19:57:31 discussion comments
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NFL Playoff Schedule Is Released And Makes For Interesting Network Match-Ups image
Last night's last game of the NFL regular season between the New York Giants and the Dallas Cowboys provided some big numbers for NBC. Many reasons have to be factored in when trying to account for the increased viewership - the marquee teams, a playoff spot on the line, a late game comeback - but the most interesting result may be the way that the game shaped the playoffs and not just for the teams on the field. How did (and will) the post-season schedule shape up for NBC, CBS and Fox, the three big football networks?

Another factor that might have contributed to the big numbers was simply the fact that it was the last game of the regular season - since there is no Monday Night Football this week in order to ensure that no team would have to compete on only five days rest. Either way, the playoff schedule has been set, including where you can watch the games (all laid out in a nice bracket on on NFL.com). Just like picking the games' winners, by breaking down all the many factors at play, maybe we can predict what networks will come out on top. Although NBC won the night last night, it looks like they got saddled with what could be the only real loser of Wild-Card Weekend with the Saturday afternoon game - Cincinnati vs. Houston. Nothing against those clubs, but neither is exactly a prestige team and on top of that, it's probably the weakest match-up in terms of actual talent (okay, that might cause some offense).

Good thing for NBC they also have what could be the most anticipated game of the first weekend with New Orleans (an ever increasingly popular team) vs. Detroit (who hasn't made the playoffs since 1999). Sundays' games are both probably the slow and steady type. Each features a big-name team (New York in the early game and Pittsburgh to follow) but the second with the Steelers also has the story of the year in Tim Tebow's Denver Broncos, so expect big ratings for CBS barring a blowout.

As far as the rest of the playoffs go, it's harder to predict without knowing the match-ups and we won't know that until after this weekend. However, at the moment it seems that Fox and CBS are neck and neck with one getting Green Bay and the other New England. One thing I do notice is the lack of potential big rivalry games (with the possibly exception of Pittsburgh and Baltimore meeting in round 2), meaning the games themselves better bring the intensity. Take a look at the full breakdown below. Oh, and NBC obviously scored big with the Super Bowl but even its overall success depends on many factors, factors that begin to take shape this weekend. I can't wait.

Wild Card Weekend

Saturday, January 7, 2012:
AFC - Cincinnati Bengals vs. Houston Texans, 4:30 p.m. ET on NBC.
NFC - Detroit Lions vs. New Orleans Saints, 8 p.m. ET on NBC.

Sunday, January 8, 2012:
NFC - Atlanta Falcons vs. New York Giants, 1 p.m. ET on Fox.
AFC - Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Denver Broncos, 4:30 p.m. ET on CBS.

Divisional Playoffs

Saturday, January 14, 2012:
NFC - San Francisco 49ers vs.TBD, 4 p.m. ET on Fox.
AFC - New England Patriots vs. TBD, 8 p.m. ET on CBS.

Sunday, January 15, 2012:
AFC - Baltimore Ravens (12-4) vs. TBD, 1 p.m. ET on CBS.
NFC - Green Bay Packers (15-1) vs. TBD, 4:30 p.m. ET on Fox.

Conference Finals

Sunday, January 22, 2012:
AFC - 3 p.m. ET on CBS.
NFC - 6:30 p.m. ET on Fox.

Super Bowl

Sunday, February 5, 2012:
6:30 p.m. ET on NBC.

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