The three prime time NFL games this week run the gamut from great to gross. Thursday night is a matchup between two teams that should be trying to lose to improve their chances at the number one overall draft pick; Jacksonville and Houston have a collective 5-19 record, and currently stand first and fourth in April’s draft order. Sunday night has an intriguing clash between New Orleans and Carolina. Those two clubs are tied for the lead in the NFC South, and it will be interesting to see how the Saints respond to Monday night’s blowout loss at Seattle. Somewhat similar to the Seahawks, the Panthers feature a solid defense and strong running game, in contrast to New Orleans’ usually lethal offense. Then Monday night we have two teams on the bubble for a playoff spot: one currently in (7-5 Dallas) playing at another currently just outside (6-6 Chicago).

The primary late Sunday afternoon game is a good one too, as Seattle goes on the road to face the 49ers. San Francisco has won two in a row and seven of their last nine, and the Seahawks are traveling on a short week after a crucial, emotional triumph; this game could be a challenge for them both emotionally and physically after that victory.

Looking ahead to week 15 the league has announced some changes. Cincinnati at Pittsburgh will remain on NBC on Sunday Night. The Saints-Rams and Arizona at Tennessee games have both been moved back to a late afternoon start. That makes three late afternoon games on FOX; originally Green Bay at Dallas was their only late game, and they left that in the late slot.

As far as week 16 goes, I cannot imagine the league will flex the Pats-Ravens game on Sunday night now that Baltimore is in contention for a playoff spot. However I do think that they will shift the Indianapolis at Kansas City game (currently a 1:00 pm ET start) to a late afternoon kickoff, and perhaps move Pittsburgh at Green Bay to an early time slot.

All times listed below are eastern time zone. These are the current initial listings per each network; local stations do have the option to request a change, which happens later in the week. Point spreads are a consensus of various sites as of early Tuesday afternoon.

Early Games on CBS

Cleveland Browns (4-8) at New England Patriots (9-3)
Bill Macatee and Steve Tasker
Patriots favored by 11½ with a point total of 44½
Broadcast in Cleveland and all of New England

Oakland Raiders (4-8) at New York Jets (5-7)
Marv Albert and Rich Gannon
Jets favored by 2½ with a point total of 40½
Northern California, Reno, northern New Jersey, Long Island, eastern New York

Miami Dolphins (6-6) at Pittsburgh Steelers (5-7)
Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts
Steelers favored by 3 with a point total of 41
Alaska, Hawaii, Arizona, Las Vegas, Texas (except Amarillo, Dallas, Houston and Austin), Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia (except Atlanta), Florida (except Tampa), South Carolina, North Carolina (except Raleigh), West Virginia, Pennsylvania (except Philadelphia)

Buffalo Bills (4-8) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-9)
Bucs favored by 2½ with a point total of 43
Spero Dedes and Steve Beuerlein
Tampa, western New York

Kansas City Chiefs (9-3) at Washington Redskins (3-9)
Kevin Harlan and Solomon Wilcots
Chiefs favored by 3½ with a point total of 45
Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, Virginia, DC, San Diego, Austin

Indianapolis Colts (8-4) at Cincinnati Bengals (8-4)
Greg Gumbel and Dan Dierdorf
Bengals favored by 5½ with a point toal of 44
Washington, Oregon, parts of Idaho, southern California (except San Diego), Dallas, Michigan (except Detroit and upper peninsula), Illinois, Indiana, Ohio (except Cleveland), Tennessee, Raleigh

Late Game on CBS

Tennessee Titans (5-7) at Denver Broncos (10-2)
Jim Nantz and Phil Simms
Broncos favored by 12 with a point total of 49
Broadcast everywhere not listed above: Utah, most of Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Amarillo, Houston, Tennessee, Maryland, southern New Jersey, Philadelphia

Early Games on FOX

No early game on FOX in Cincinnati, Tampa, Pittsburgh, New York, Boston or Providence due to NFL broadcast rules

Atlanta Falcons (3-9) at Green Bay Packers (5-6-1)
Thom Brennaman and Brian Billick
No early line on this game, pending info on Aaron Rodgers
Georgia, northern Florida, eastern Tennessee, Wisconsin, upper peninsula of Michigan

Minnesota Vikings (3-8-1) at Baltimore Ravens (6-6)
Chris Myers and Tim Ryan
Ravens favored by 7 with a point toal of 43
North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Maryland, DC

Detroit Lions (7-5) at Philadelphia Eagles (7-5)
Kevin Burkhardt and John Lynch
Eagles favored by 2½ with a point total of 54
Broadcast everywhere except as noted above: Alaska, Hawaii, Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan (except the upper peninsula), Ohio (except Cincinnati), Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Florida (except Tampa and northern Florida), South Carolina, North Carolina, West Virginia, Pennsylvania (except Pittsburgh), New York (excpet NYC), southern New Jersey, New England (except Boston and Providence)

Late Games on FOX

Seattle Seahawks (11-1) at San Francisco 49ers (8-4)
Joe Buck, Troy Aikman
49ers favored by 2½ with a point total of 42
Broadcast everywhere except as noted below.

New York Giants (5-7) at San Diego Chargers (5-7)
Kenny Albert and Daryl Johnston
Chargers favored by 3 with a point total of 47½
San Diego, Kansas, New Orleans, Indianapolis, northern New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Springfield, Vermont

St. Louis Rams (5-7) at Arizona Cardinals (7-5)
Dick Stockton, Ronde Barber
Cardinals favored by 6 with a point total of 41½
Arizona, Missouri, southern Illinois

No late game on FOX in Denver due to NFL broadcast rules

Night Games

Thursday Night on NFLN
Houston Texans (2-10) at Jacksonville Jaguars (3-9)
Brad Nessler and Mike Mayock
Texans favored by 3 with a point total of 43

Sunday Night on NBC
Carolina Panthers (9-3) at New Orleans Saints (9-3)
Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth
Saints favored by 3½ with a point total of 45½

Monday Night on ESPN
Dallas Cowboys (7-5) at Chicago Bears (6-6)
Mike Tirico and Jon Gruden
Cowboys favored by 1½ with a point total of 49½

Other Football Related Broadcasts Of Interest

Tuesday Dec 3, 2:00-3:30 pm ET on NFLN
NFL Replay – New England Patriots at Houston Texans

Tuesday Dec 3, 3:30-5:00 pm ET on NFLN
NFL Replay – Oakland Raiders at Dallas Cowboys

Tuesday Dec 3, 9:00-10:00 pm ET on NFLN
A Football Life – The Great Wall of Dallas

Wednesday Dec 4, 3:00-3:30 pm ET on NFLN
NFL Presents – Big Men – includes a feature on Vince Wilfork; repeats Friday at 4:30

Wednesday Dec 4, 9:00-10:00 pm ET on NFLN
NFL Replay – Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs

Thursday Dec 5, 7:30-11:45 pm ET on ESPN
College Football – #19 Louisville at Cincinnati

Thursday Dec 5, 8:30-11:30 pm ET on NFLN
Thursday Night Football – Houston Texans at Jacksonville Jaguars

Friday Dec 6, 3:00-3:30 pm ET on NFLN
Sound FX – Ed Reed

Friday Dec 6, 3:30-4:00 pm ET on NFLN
Sound FX – Terrell Suggs

Friday Dec 6, 8:00-11:45 pm ET on ESPN2
College Football – MAC championship – Bowling Green vs #14 Illinois

Friday Dec 6, 9:00-10:00 pm ET on NFLN
Playbook NFC – Film breakdown and preview; repeats twice on Saturday

Friday Dec 6, 10:00-11:00 pm ET on NFLN
Playbook AFC – Film breakdown and preview; repeats twice on Saturday

Saturday Dec 7, Noon-3:30 pm ET on ABC
College Football – #17 Oklahoma at #6 Oklahoma State

Saturday Dec 7, 3:30-7:00 pm ET on FOX
College Football – #25 Texas at #9 Baylor

Saturday Dec 7, 4:00-7:30 pm ET on CBS
College Football – SEC Championship – #5 Missouri vs #3 Auburn

Saturday Dec 7, 4:00-5:00 pm ET on NFLN
A Football Life: Jimmy Johnson – includes interaction with Bill Belichick

Saturday Dec 7, 7:45-11:59 pm ET on ESPN
College Football – Pac-12 Championship – #7 Stanford at #11 Arizona State

Saturday Dec 7, 8:00-11:59 pm ET on ABC
College Football – ACC Championship – #20 Duke at #1 Florida State

Saturday Dec 7, 8:00-11:59 pm ET on FOX
College Football – Big 10 Championship – #2 Ohio State vs #10 Michigan

Sunday Dec 8, 6:30-7:00 am ET on ESPN
NFL Matchup – X’s and O’s show produced by Greg Cosell

Sunday Dec 8, 7:00-9:00 am ET on NFLN
NFL Game Day First – much better than the later pre-game show

Sunday Dec 8, 9:00-1:00 ET on CBSSN
That Other Pregame Show – a decent pre-game show alternative

Sunday Dec 8, 10:00-1:00 ET on WEEI
Patriots Pregame Show – great pregame analysis from Matt Chatham, Chris Price and Dale Arnold

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