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Sunday NFL Countdown and NFL Matchup Features


Saturday and Sunday Editions of Countdown and Matchup during NFL Playoffs
Two-Hour SportsCenter Special Sunday Night at 9 p.m. to Recap Weekend Games

Sunday NFL Countdown Presented by IBM featuring Chris Berman, Mike Ditka, Tom Jackson, Keyshawn Johnson and Emmitt Smith, will air two shows during the NFL Divisional Playoff weekend, beginning with a one-hour Saturday show at 11 a.m. ET on ESPN and the regularly scheduled show Sunday at 11 a.m. as they look ahead to the four playoff match-ups. Chris Mortensen will provide headlines and league news, and Steve Young will contribute his weekly Sunday opinion segment, “Young is Restless.”

Saturday’s pre-game show will include reports from Rachel Nichols at Lambeau Field for the Seahawks at Packers and Sal Paolantonio reporting from Foxborough, Mass., for the Jaguars at Patriots. Sunday’s pre-game show will include reports from Bob Holtzman in Indianapolis for the Chargers at Colts and Ed Werder reporting from Texas Stadium for the Giants at Cowboys. Planned features:

Saturday, January 12:

Conversation with 2008 NFL MVP Tom Brady

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, the 2008 NFL MVP, sits down with Chris Berman to talk about the Patriots 16-0 season, what it’s like to throw to Randy Moss and how much pressure he is feeling to finish the season undefeated.

Past to Present: Seattle Seahawks Mike Holmgren and Matt Hasselbeck

Before Matt Hasselbeck was a Pro Bowl quarterback for the Seahawks, he was a backup to Green Bay’s Brett Favre. The one common experience in both cities – Mike Holmgren was his head coach. Berman interviews both Holmgren and Hasselbeck to talk about the unique relationship they share and their outlook on the playoff game in Green Bay.

Favre’s Comeback Season

Packers quarterback Brett Favre has had a phenomenal season, setting NFL records for touchdown passes and passing yards, and leading Green Bay to a 13-3 record. ESPN chronicles audio from Favre’s season from his decision to return for another year to his goal of winning another Super Bowl championship.

Sunday, January 13:

What Drives Colts Safety Bob Sanders?

Growing up in the town of Erie, Pa., Colts safety Bob Sanders used to watch a video of a steel worker on the job – a demanding occupation in oppressively hot and dirty work conditions. The steel worker was his father, Marion, and the lesson was simple – get an education and take advantage of the opportunities you’re given. Last year Sanders won a Super Bowl championship and this season was named Defensive Player of the Year. Tom Jackson sits down with Sanders and his family to learn about what drives the hard-hitting safety.

Ties that Bind: Defensive Ends Osi Umenyiora and DeMarcus Ware

Defensive ends Osi Umenyiora of the Giants and DeMarcus Ware of the Cowboys share more in common than competing in the NFC East, rushing the passer and making the Pro Bowl. They rode the same school bus together in high school (Auburn High School in Alabama) and played together at Troy University. Greg Garber tracks the ties that bind two of the best pass rushers in the NFL.

Mayne Event: Kim II Zong, V

The fifth in a series on Kim Il Zong, an imaginary football player spawned from the mind of Kenny Mayne, who was first introduced as a South Korean import signed for an unprecedented billion dollar contract with the Seahawks in 2002. The Mayne Event has tracked his meteoric rise - including partying with Pearl Jam - to his precipitous fall out of the league. This week, Kenny checks in one last time on Zong in the tongue-in-cheek Mayne Event.

Soundtracks – Giants and Cowboys

Find out what the two previous Giants and Cowboys matchups sounded like this season in this week’s edition of Soundtracks.

Takin’ It To the House – NFL Spelling Bee Championship

Ten-year-old Chicago native Jason Krause is in the NFL Spelling Bee championship, but will the numerous spelling challenges on the Chargers’ roster prevent him from getting the prize?

Film Room: Peyton Manning

This week the crew dissects film from the last Chargers-Colts match-up when Peyton Manning threw six interceptions. The crews explains what the Chargers did right and what Manning needs to do to succeed in this rematch.

Start ’Em or Sit ’Em fantasy expert Matthew Berry takes questions from fantasy players across the globe posted by fans on in “Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em” and will also preview weekly trends and sleepers for Week 18.

Berman, Ditka, Jackson, Johnson and Smith will pick the biggest games of the day and tell fans which players will make the biggest impact in the NFL’s Divisional Playoff weekend action.


State Farm NFL Matchup (Saturday at 3 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. and Sunday at 3:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m.) with host Sal Paolantonio and analysts Ron Jaworski and Merril Hoge will preview the NFL Playoff weekend by bringing viewers inside the film room. The 30-minute X’s and O’s program – taped each week at NFL Films in Mt. Laurel, New Jersey – highlights team strategy and game planning. This week’s features:

Saturday, January 12:

Seahawks “D” vs. Packers “O”

The Seahawks defense will be ready to strike in Lambeau Field on Saturday, but expect Favre and the Packers to have an answer. Jaworski demonstrates how the Packers offense will be ready for Seattle. Hoge illustrates how the Packers have been successful on the ground with the emergence of running back Ryan Grant and why that will need to continue against Seattle Saturday.

Seahawks “O” vs. Packers “D”

The Seahawks have become a pass-first offense that will be up against a Packers defense that plays more press-man coverage than any team in the NFL. Hoge unveils how the Seahawks must attack one of the league’s best secondary units.

Jaguars “D” vs. Patriots “O”

The Jaguars beat the Steelers for the second time this season, but Saturday they will compete against the highest scoring offense in NFL history. Jaworski displays how the Jaguars must attempt to confuse Patriots quarterback Tom Brady by mixing up their defensive coverage to stay in the game. Hoge clarifies how the Jaguars must put pressure on Brady and disrupt the Patriots offense by blitzing.

Jaguars “O” vs. Patriots “D”

The Jaguars had a crucial win against the Steelers last weekend but will need to be sharper in the passing game to pull off an upset Saturday. Jaworksi reveals how the Jaguars ineffectively responded to one of Pittsburgh’s defensive coverages, one that will likely be used by the Patriots defense. Hoge makes it clear that the Jaguars must use their strength of running the football to exploit the Patriots’ weaknesses on defense.

Sunday, January 13:

Chargers “D” vs. Colts “O”

The last time the Chargers and Colts met, Peyton Manning threw a career-high six interceptions. Jaworksi describes how the Colts will correct this by making adjustments before the game, in-between snaps and even by adapting to defenses in the middle of plays. Hoge breaks down how the Chargers will need to blitz from several directions and win their individual player matchups against the Colts’ offensive line to be successful.

Chargers “O” vs. Colts “D”

Hoge spotlights why Colts defensive back Bob Sanders has the potential to stymie LaDainian Tomlinson, the league’s top rusher. Jaworksi opens up his Playbook to show how Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers successfully attacked the Titans’ defense last Sunday and why he will need to take the same approach in Indianapolis.

Giants “D” vs. Cowboys “O”

Jaworski goes Inside the Matchup to highlight how Tony Romo’s quick decision-making and recognition skills will need to be at their peak this Sunday against the Giants. The Cowboys offense has struggled in recent weeks, and Hoge uncovers how the Cowboys’ inability to run the ball on first down has put Romo in tough situations to convert on third down.

Giants “O” vs. Cowboys “D”

Giants quarterback Eli Manning won his first playoff game last Sunday. Jaworski explains how the Giants must create big plays Sunday by manipulating the Dallas safeties in several ways. Hoge pulls out his Coaches Clicker and shows how the Giants had trouble against the Cowboys aggressive defense, and why that must change for their offense to have success Sunday.


Trey Wingo will host a special two-hour SportsCenter Special Sunday night at 9 p.m. ET as ESPN analysts Merril Hoge, Shaun King and Mark Schlereth will breakdown all the NFL Divisional round playoff games and look ahead to the AFC and NFC Conference Championship match-ups next week.


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