Monday Night Football: Chicago & Minnesota in Vikings’ First Outdoor Home Game in 29 Years; ESPN’s Cris Carter to be Named to Vikings 50th Anniversary Team
Adrian Peterson and the Minnesota Vikings will host Jay Cutler and the NFC North-leading Chicago Bears in a matchup of longtime divisional rivals on ESPN’s Monday Night Football Dec. 20 at 8:30 p.m. on ESPN and ESPN HD. Mike Tirico and analysts Jon Gruden and Ron Jaworski will call the game, and Michele Tafoya and Suzy Kolber will provide updates on the teams throughout the day from TCF Bank Stadium In Minneapolis.
The MNF game is being played at the on-campus stadium at the University of Minnesota as a result of damage sustained to the roof of the Metrodome during last week’s major snowstorm. Coincidentally, Monday's game marks the 29th anniversary to the day (Dec. 20, 1981) that the Vikings played their last home NFL game outdoors, a 10-6 loss to the Chiefs in their final game at Metropolitan Stadium.
The Bears (9-4) have a one-game lead over the Packers and can secure a playoff spot with a Monday win. Chicago, 4-0 in the NFC North, is one of only three NFL teams with a perfect record divisional record this season.
Monday’s telecast will begin with a Frank Gifford MNF vignette highlighting the 2009 MNF season finale when the Bears defeated the playoff-bound Vikings 36-30 in overtime in frigid late-December conditions at Soldier Field in Chicago.
ESPN’s “game around the game” studio coverage will begin at noon on SportsCenter, followed by NFL Live (3:30 p.m.) and NFL PrimeTime (4 p.m.). The 90-minute Monday Night Countdown pregame will begin at 7 p.m. with host Chris Berman and analysts Mike Ditka, Tom Jackson, Keyshawn Johnson, Chris Mortensen, and NFL Insider Adam Schefter. Analyst Cris Carter, who will be honored as a member of the Vikings’ 50th anniversary team Monday night at the game, will make a special appearance from the stadium, joining Stuart Scott and analysts Matt Millen and Steve Young.
Sunday NFL Countdown: Chris Berman Interviews Eagles Quarterback Mike Vick and Coach Andy Reid
Chris Berman, Mike Ditka, Cris Carter, Tom Jackson, Keyshawn Johnson and NFL Insiders Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter will preview the day’s NFL matchups Sunday at 11 a.m. Highlights:
- Chris Berman Explores the Michael Vick-Andy Reid Relationship -- Eagles quarterback Michael Vick and head coach Andy Reid are bound by two motivations: the pursuit of a Super Bowl trophy and a belief in personal rehabilitation. Vick arrived in Philadelphia after serving time in prison for operating a dog fighting operation. Reid’s two eldest sons, incarcerated in 2007 on drug charges, are trying to re-assimilate into society. Countdown host Berman travelled to Philadelphia this week for a sit-down interview with Vick and Reid about their relationship.
- Maurice Jones-Drew: What’s in a name? -- In college, Jaguars running back was just known as Maurice Drew. After the death of his grandfather Maurice Jones, the younger Maurice wanted to pay homage to the man who helped raised him. E60’s Lisa Salters reports on the story behind the name change.
- Joe Flacco: A Tall Quarterback -- At 6 ft, 6 inches, Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco is the NFL’s tallest starting quarterback. Because of his height, Flacco works on his throwing mechanics and this summer he trained with the University of Southern California pitching coach to improve his accuracy and arm strength. Rachel Nichols reports.
NFL Matchup’s X’s and O’s: Eagles at Giants; Bears at Vikings; Saints at Ravens
Host Sal Paolantonio and analysts Merril Hoge and Ron Jaworski will preview the X’s and O’s in three key games this weekend on Sunday’s NFL Matchup at 3 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. (5:30 a.m. on ESPN2). Highlights:
- Eagles at Giants -- In the last three games, Giants’ running back Ahmad Bradshaw has tallied up 45 carries for 249 yards, 5.5 yards per carry, earning Hoge’s ‘Seal of Approval’ and a Matchup analysis of his 48-yard touchdown run versus the Vikings on Monday night.
- Bears at Vikings -- The last time these two teams met, Chicago seemed to have the upper hand, thanks to the Bears converting 11 of 19 third downs. Jaworski goes “Inside the Matchup” to reveal the schemes that led to the success of Chicago’s offense.
- Saints at Ravens – Despite being the defending Super Bowl chamions, the Saints have been seemingly under the radar this season, but still hold a 10-3 record. Jaworski opens his “Playbook” to show the vertical components of the New Orleans offense.