The recent extensions by the National Football League with its broadcast partners includes a number of enhancements aimed at making the games more accessible to those who may be away from their television sets during game time.
Fans will get a sneak preview of this new access this Saturday during NBC's doubleheader coverage of the NFL Wild Card round which will feature the debut of the network's NBC Postseason Extra where the games will be broadcast on NBC as well as streamed live on NFL.com and NBCSports.com, and will be available on NFL Mobile only from Verizon. This marks the first time postseason games will be available in the U.S. via live online streaming and via a mobile app.
NBC Postseason Extra is modeled after the successful Sunday Night Football Extra that debuted in the 2008 season. SNF Extra provides additional camera angles, a full HD-quality player, DVR functionality, online-only sideline updates and Tweets from SNF sideline reporter Michele Tafoya, as well as in-game chats and analysis from ProFootballTalk’s Mike Florio, and more. All of these functions will be available on NBC Postseason Extra.
Coverage on Saturday begins with a special edition of Football Night in America at 4:00 p.m. with the familiar cast of hosts Bob Costas and Dan Patrick and analysts Tony Dungy and Rodney Harrison, along with Peter King of Sports Illustrated and Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. Following the pregame, game coverage begins with the Cincinnati Bengals at Houston Texans at 4:30 p.m. ET and the Detroit Lions at New Orleans Saints at 8:00 p.m. ET.
The Sunday Night Football broadcast team of Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth and Michele Tafoya will call Lions-Saints while the NBC Notre Dame Football broadcast team of Tom Hammond, Mike Mayock and Alex Flanagan will call Bengals-Texans.
Patriots fans are most interested in the matchup between the Texans and Bengals, with some experts seeing Cincinnati with a chance to pull the upset and then come into Gillette Stadium on January 14th. Dungy and Harrison both see the pressure as being on Houston, the home team. Dungy says "I’m excited to see how these young quarterbacks perform in this big game on this big stage. The key will be Cincinnati’s run defense on Arian Foster. they’re going to have to take care of him to have a chance. I expect it to be a good, tight game."
Harrison adds "These are two young teams without a lot of momentum heading into playoffs. It will be fun to watch and see who can handle the big stage. It’s up to Houston to come out and establish the run and get Andre Johnson involved early. You can’t wait until the third or fourth quarter to get him involved."
The AFC matchup will again be of interest, as should Houston win at home on Saturday, the winner of the Steelers/Broncos game will be the Patriots next opponent. Most favor the Steelers, who nonetheless enter this game banged up. Phil Simms will be at the game, and says "A lot of people have these preconceived notions about this game. But I’ll be surprised if it’s not close because the Broncos have a style and the talent to keep it close, no matter what, especially playing at home. There are exceptions, Detroit, but that took some unusual circumstances. Denver is built to make this game close. That is what they want. And then they hope either Tim Tebow or the defense makes a play at a crucial moment to win."
Former Steelers coach Bill Cowher says "From Denver’s standpoint, the biggest key to this game is, obviously, they cannot turn the ball over. Defensively, it’s going to be trying to put pressure on Ben Roethlisberger. Another key is for Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil being able to break down the pocket against Ben. For Pittsburgh, it’s going to be dealing with the unconventional offense that Denver runs. You’re going to see a lot of Troy Polamalu close to the line of scrimmage. It’s eliminating the big plays in the Broncos running game. That’s the one thing you’ll see. Willis McGahee has been their big-play person. They can’t fall asleep on the pass, and certainly they’re going to have to defend the option game that they present."
Unlike Saturday's games, you can only watch Falcons/Giants (FOX) and Steelers/Broncos (CBS) if you actually have a television. How 20th century.