Weekend Watchdog: I want my game, NFL Network
Do you have NFL Network? It’s the most popular of the league networks, but not popular enough to make most basic cable packages.
So the second half of the season, eight games on NFL network means most fans must head to a sports bar or a friend with the upper tier programming to watch. Fans in the local cities get to watch over-the-air, but out-of-market areas like Fishersville are out of luck.
This year’s slate starts with a good one – Ravens visiting the Falcons Thursday. Teams with young quarterbacks who have had success in the past two years, and continue that in the 2010 campaign. They are among a bunch of teams with 6-2 records midway through the season, so the winner gets a big boost toward the playoffs.
Fire up the computer or catch the highlights. And wait for whatever’s left for Sunday afternoon.
Elsewhere in the NFL, the Redskins get prime time exposure Monday night against the Eagles. Sunday night, the Patriots visit Pittsburgh on NBC.
In the Sunday afternoon coverage, CBS will show the Colts against Bengals. The FOX doubleheader starts with the Vikings at Bears, then heads to the New Meadowlands as the bumbling Cowboys visit the Giants.
The college football weekend begins Thursday on ESPN when the Pitt Panthers head to Connecticut. Friday, Boise State continues its run for a prefect season at 9 p.m. against Idaho.
Virginia Tech’s big contest with North Carolina gets coverage on ABC Saturday, starting at 3:30 p.m. Other games in the slot include Penn State going against Ohio State (likely ESPN game in the mid-Atlantic) and Texas Tech at Oklahoma.
In primetime, ABC shows Clemson-Florida State or USC at Arizona.
CBS has a doubleheader Saturday, with Mississippi facing Tennessee at noon and Georgia taking on Auburn at 3:30 p.m. Notre Dame tries to bounce back against Utah on NBC. The Utes got blown out for their first loss Saturday, so might not be a good day for the Fighting Irish.
The Big Ten gets more coverage at noon, with Iowa at Northwestern on ESPN and Wisconsin-Indiana on ESPN2. In primetime the SEC takes over, with South Carolina visiting Florida on ESPN and Mississippi State-Alabama on ESPN2. Close out your night with Nevada-Fresno State on ESPN.
MASN goes with the Big East game of the week between Connecticut and West Virginia Saturday at noon, then offers Louisiana Tech at New Mexico State from the WAC at 6 p.m.
Versus gets to show some of the top teams in the country, with San Diego State at TCU at 4 p.m., followed by top-ranked Oregon battling California. The day begins at noon with Brown-Dartmouth.
NASCAR is in Phoenix for the next to last race of the season – Sunday at 3 p.m. on ESPN. Can Denny Hamlin hold onto the chase lead? Will Jimmie Johnson’s crew troubles continue?
The Nationwide racers go Saturday at 4 p.m. on ESPN2.
TNT’s Thursday doubleheader features the Celtics visiting the Heat at 8 p.m., followed by the Lakers taking on the Nuggets. ESPN’s Friday doubleheader starts at 7 p.m. with the Hawks hosting the Jazz, then the action shifts to Oklahoma City with the Thunder meeting Portland.
The Wizards take on Charlotte Friday on Comcast, then play the Bulls Saturday night on Comcast-plus and WGN.
College basketball begins gearing up this week, and MASN offers Kentucky Wesleyan at Louisville Thursday at 7 p.m. Friday, it’s a Big East doubleheader with Connecticut hosting Stony Brook at 7 p.m., followed by Prairie View A&M at Marquette.
Saturday, Pittsburgh takes on North Florida at 4 p.m., and Sunday there’s the Patriot League game between Lafayette and Rider.
The Capitals host Tampa Bay Thursday on Comcast, then visit Buffalo Saturday and close a busy weekend with a 5 p.m. home game against Atlanta on Sunday.
The MLS has Dallas battling Los Angeles Sunday on ESPN2 for a berth in next Sunday’s MLS cup. For your college action, MASN has the Big East men’s soccer tournament championship at noon, while the ACC title game will be on Comcast-plus Sunday at 1 p.m.