PACKERS & BEARS RING IN THE NEW YEAR ON NBC IN NFL SEASON FINALE
Could this be Brett Favre's Final Game?
NEW YORK � December 28, 2006 � NBC Sports rings in the New Year with the NFL's regular season finale on "NBC Sunday Night Football" as the Chicago Bears (13-2) host their NFC North rivals, the Green Bay Packers (7-8). Coverage begins at 7 p.m. ET with the "Football Night in America" studio show, followed by kickoff at 8:15 p.m. ET from Soldier Field.
Al Michaels (play-by-play), John Madden (analyst) and Andrea Kremer (sideline reporter) will call all the action. Bob Costas (host) and Cris Collinsworth (co-host), analysts Sterling Sharpe and Jerome "The Bus" Bettis, and reporter Peter King of Sports Illustrated, comprise the "Football Night in America" studio team.
FAVRE'S LAST STAND?
If the Pack fails to qualify for a playoff spot, Sunday Night could be the final game for Green Bay quarterback Brett Favre, who has started every game for the Packers since Sept. 27, 1992. The future Hall-of-Famer ranks second on the NFL's all-time lists for passing yards (53,615), attempts (7,610), completions (4,678) and touchdowns (396), trailing only Dan Marino in these categories.
DO OR DIE FOR THE PACK
Green Bay comes into Chicago having won their last three games and looking to make an unlikely playoff run. The Packers must beat the Bears on "NBC SNF" to qualify for the last NFC playoff spot. There are five possible scenarios where the Packers would make the playoffs; the most likely involve the New York Giants losing to the Washington Redskins on Saturday, Dec. 30 plus ONE of the following:
A St. Louis Rams loss to the Minnesota Vikings;
A Carolina Panthers victory over the New Orleans Saints; OR
An Atlanta Falcons victory over the Philadelphia Eagles.
If the Giants beat the Redskins on Saturday, the Packers could still make the playoffs based on their "strength of victory" tiebreaker. Strength of victory is the combined won-loss percentage of the teams that the playoff contender has defeated.
PACKERS VS. BEARS PART II
Earlier this season, the Bears soundly defeated their NFC North rival Packers at Lambeau Field, 26-0 in Week One. However, the Packers come into Soldier Field having won their last three contests. The Bears have won four straight, but looked less than dominant in a Week 16 come-from-behind victory over the Detroit Lions. Chicago has clinched a bye week, plus home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
Madden says that despite the Bears having clinched the bye and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, they may not be resting anyone Sunday Night: "When you have a young quarterback like Rex Grossman, the question becomes does he need rest or does he need reps? I would think he needs reps, and that means the Bears would have their offensive line, their receivers, and their backs starting on Sunday Night."
PACK BACK ON NBC FOR FIRST TIME SINCE SUPER BOWL
Sunday Night's game is the first appearance for the Packers on NBC since their loss to John Elway and the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXXII in January of 1998.
ABOUT FLEXIBLE SCHEDULING:
The NFL this season is implementing for the first time in its history a primetime "flexible scheduling" element on Sundays in Weeks 10-15 and in Week 17 to ensure quality matchups with playoff implications in those weeks and give surprise teams a chance to play their way onto Sunday Night. The NFL will announce the flex game no later than 12 days prior, except for Week 17, which will be announced no later than six days before, to ensure that the final regular season Sunday Night game has playoff implications.
"FOOTBALL NIGHT IN AMERICA" STUDIO:
The "Football Night in America" studio, just down the hall from the famed Studio 8H, home of "Saturday Night Live," was built in the former studio home of first the Philco Television Playhouse (1948-1955) and later for game shows Concentration (1958-1973) and Jeopardy (1964-1975), and talk shows Donahue (1984-1996) and The Rosie O'Donnell Show (1996-2002), and shares the "SNL" control room for the football season. The "Football Night" set was designed and built by Jeremy Conway, the former set designer for "Sex in the City." Two 103" high definition Panasonic plasma screen televisions � roughly the size of a queen-size mattress � are two of the set innovations.
"NBC SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL":
"NBC Sunday Night Football," the premier primetime game of the week, is preceded by the "Football Night in America" studio show, which kicks off NBC's regular season coverage each Sunday at 7 p.m. The unprecedented six-year NFL deal includes innovative flexible scheduling and continues through the 2011 season with Super Bowls in 2009 and 2012. NBC has assembled the most honored broadcast team ever: Joining Al Michaels, the commentator called "TV's best play-by-play announcer" by the Associated Press, and John Madden, the most honored NFL broadcaster of all time with 15 Emmy Awards, are Bob Costas, the most honored studio host of all time with 19 Emmy Awards, who will host NBC's "Football Night in America" studio show alongside co-host Cris Collinsworth, the most honored studio analyst in history with six Emmy Awards; and analysts Sterling Sharpe, a five-time Pro Bowler and Jerome Bettis, one of the most popular players in recent NFL history. "NBC Sunday Night Football" coverage also includes sideline and feature reporter Andrea Kremer, whom the Los Angeles Times has called "the best TV interviewer in the business of covering the NFL." Peter King, who covers the NFL for Sports Illustrated and is considered one of the country's foremost NFL reporters, serves as a reporter for the "Football Night in America" studio show.