NFL week seven kicks off at 8:25 pm ET on Thursday night as the 4-2 New England Patriots have a short week to recover from season-ending injuries to two of their starters, and host their biggest rival, the 1-5 New York Jets. The game will be broadcast on both CBS and the NFL Network, with Jim Nantz handling the play-by-play calls. Phil Simms will serve as the color analyst and Tracy Wolfson will be the sideline reporter. The NFL Network will commence their pre-game show at 6:00 pm for those that just can’t get enough, waiting for the game to start; a better alternative in my opinion would be to shut the television off until kickoff and listen to Christopher Price and WEEI’s pre-game show.

The game will also be broadcast on the radio nationally via the Westwood One Sports affiliates, with Ian Eagle calling the plays, Boomer Esiason adding analysis and Laura Okmin as the sideline reporter. Locally the game will also air on 98.5 the Sports Hub and 40 other radio stations in the northeast; Bob Socci will call the play-by-play while Scott Zolak adds the color(ful) analysis, which may or may not include unicorns and ponies.

On a side night, Thursday’s game ‘Ty Law Night’ at Gillette Stadium. Law was voted in to the Patriots’ Hall of Fame earlier this year, and will be honored during halftime of Thursday’s game. Coincidence or not for the New York fans in the audience, Law spent two seasons with the Jets after leaving the Patriots – but after plating in twelve playoff games with the Pats, he never saw the post-season with the Jets.

Despite the injuries to Jerod Mayo, Stevan Ridley and Dan Connolly, as of Monday the Patriots are being listed as 9½ point favorites over the Jets, with an over/under of 46½. The money line is currently set at Jets +415 while the Patriots are -485.

 

In case you were wondering why Sunday’s game at Buffalo was broadcast on FOX rather than CBS even though it was between two AFC teams, here’s the deal. For several years now the NFL has had ‘flex’ scheduling late in the season, where games are moved in and out of the Sunday night slot based on what has occurred during the season, to place a more better and more competitive game on Sunday night – in order to capture a larger television audience.

Starting this season the NFL instituted ‘cross-flex’ scheduling, again in the attempt to gain a larger television audience for their broadcasting business partners. Four weeks in advance of each Sunday’s games, FOX and CBS make a preliminary report of what games will be broadcast in to each of their television markets. If a game is not scheduled to get much distribution, then the other network may opt to pick it up, to help fill their own schedule and distribution.

In this case the Pats-Bills were scheduled to only be broadcast in their own television markets (New England and western New York), just as has been the case for years in games between these two teams. At the time the network suits did not envision Buffalo being a quality team or this setting up to be a compelling game – which in their defense is understandable, given the history of the Bills this century. FOX on the other hand not only had the doubleheader (needing games to air in almost every market in both the early and late time slots), but they also had three late games. That left them a bit light on early games to choose from, so they added the Pats-Bills game as part of the cross-flex program. End result was that the game was broadcast in several western states in addition to being seen in New England and western New York.

From what I have been reading the week eight October 26th game between Seattle and Carolina will be cross-flexed from FOX to CBS, with FOX getting the short end of the stick by receiving the Tennesse-Houston game as a trade-off. FOX had a season-high 19.2 rating for their late games Sunday, which was the highest for either network since 2011 and the highest for FOX since 1996. To put it in perspective, that 19.2 rating – based primarily on the Seahawks-Cowboys game – was nine percent better than what FOX had for the Pats-Saints game last year.

 

One other item of note: last week I raised an eyebrow when I saw that Mike Goldberg would be announcing the Detroit-Minnesota game. As expected his NFL broadcasting debut was apparently a bit uneven. That is not really newsworthy; however, his responses to criticism on social media may result in his career as an NFL play-by-play announcer being over soon after it began.

 

Here is a look at what is currently being scheduled to be broadcast for the rest of week seven. FOX has the double header again this week, and as they so often do, will showcase a pair of NFC Est teams. The Giants-Cowboys will be the primary late afternoon game, and then NBC broadcasts San Francisco at Denver on Sunday night.

I’m not thrilled with the same team playing consecutive games on Monday and Sunday nights (the Niners here; the Pats just did the same at KC and then versus Cincinnati. As an NFL fan I would rather see different teams, and from the team’s perspective that is most likely a bit tougher to prepare for.

Cincinnati Bengals (3-1-1) at Indianapolis Colts (4-2)
Early game on CBS
Colts favored by 3, with a point total of 49
Bengals +145, Colts -165
Broadcast in New York (except Buffalo), New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana (except New Orleans), Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Wyoming, Utah, Reno, San Francisco, Alaska and Hawaii

Tennessee Titans (2-4) at Washington (1-5)
Early game on CBS
Washington favored by 4½, with a point total of 46
Tennessee +190, Washington -220
Broadcast in Maryland, DC, Virginia, Tennessee and Tupelo

Miami Dolphins (2-3) at Chicago Bears (3-3)
Early game on CBS
Bears favored by 3½, with a point total of 49
Miami +160, Chicago -180
Broadcast in New England, Florida (except Jacksonville and Orlando), Michigan, Illinois, St. Louis, North Dakota, South Dakota and Arizona

Cleveland Browns (3-2) at Jacksonville Jaguars (0-6)
Early game on CBS
Browns favored by 4½, with a point total of 45
Browns -250, Jaguars +210
Broadcast in Jacksonville, Orlando, Savannah and Cleveland

Seattle Seahawks (3-2) at St. Louis Rams (1-4)
Early game on FOX
Seahawks favored by 6½, with a point total of 43
No money line yet, pending MNF result
Broadcast in southern Illinois, Missouri, Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Reno, northern California, Utah, Arizona and Alaska

Carolina Panthers (3-2-1) at Green Bay Packers (4-2)
Early game on FOX
Packers favored by 7, with a point total of 49
Carolina +265, Green Bay -315
Broadcast in New England, eastern New York, New Jersey, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida (except Jacksonville and Tallahassee), Tennessee (except Memphis), Kentucky, Minnesota, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Las Vegas, southern California, Hawaii

Atlanta Falcons (2-4) at Baltimore Ravens (4-2)
Early game on FOX
Ravens favored by 7, with a point total of 49½
Atlanta +260, Baltimore -310
Broadcast in Maryland, DC, western Pennsylvania, Georgia and Alabama

Minnesota Vikings (2-4) at Buffalo Bills (3-3)
Early game on FOX
Bills favored by 4, with a point total of 43
Minnesota +170, Buffalo -195
Broadcast in western New York, Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota and South Dakota

New Orleans Saints (2-3) at Detroit Lions (4-2)
Early game on FOX
Lions favored by 3, with a point total of 50
New Orleans +130, Detroit -150
Broadcast in Michigan, Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas

Kansas City Chiefs (2-3) at San Diego Chargers (5-1)
Late game on CBS
Chargers favored by 4, with a point total of 44½
Kansas City +170, San Diego -195
Broadcast in Buffalo, Charlotte, Atlanta, New Orleans, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, Utah, California (except SF), Oregon, Washington

New York Giants (3-3) at Dallas Cowboys (5-1)
Late game on FOX
Cowboys favored by 5½, with a point total of 48
New York +210, Dallas -250
Broadcast everywhere except Arizona, Reno, San Diego and northern California

Arizona Cardinals (4-1) at Oakland Raiders (0-5)
Late game on FOX
Cardinals favored by 3½, with a point total of 43½
Arizona -175, Oakland +155
Broadcast in Arizona, Reno and northern California

San Francisco 49ers (4-2) at Denver Broncos (4-1)
Sunday night game on NBC
Broncos favored by 6½, with a point total of 51½
No money line yet, pending MNF result

Houston Texans (3-3) at Pittsburgh Steelers (3-3)
Monday night game on ESPN
Steelers favored by 3½, with a point total of 44½
Houston +160, Pittsburgh -180

 

 

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