The National Football League unveiled its 2021 schedule last month. Along with the game schedule, the league announced what games will be on what television networks.
Let the sturm und drang begin.
The term is a late 18th century German phrase, and one definition, according to Merriam Webster, is turmoil. That is what Berkshire County football fans might feel a couple of times because of scheduling conflicts.
CBS continues to be the primary home for AFC games, and that is the home of the New England Patriots, New York Jets and Buffalo Bills. Fox continues to be the primary home for the NFC, and that includes the New York Giants. That will change a little when the new television contracts kick in for the 2023 season, but we are getting ahead of ourselves.
Under the terms of the current contract, the visiting team’s network will in most cases, broadcast the game. For example, if the Patriots were playing at Denver this year, the game would most likely be on CBS. A Chicago Bears game at Foxborough would, most likely, be on Fox.
Berkshire County cable viewers get two CBS affiliates and one Fox affiliate. CBS games can be seen on CBS3 Springfield and WRGB-TV6 from Albany. WXXA-TV23 is the Fox affiliate in Albany. Spectrum Cable does not provide a Springfield or Boston Fox affiliate.
The four teams that Berkshire County fans care the most about will all play their first games on Sunday, Sept. 12. Week 1 will have doubleheaders on both CBS and Fox, so there won’t be conflicts.
The Patriots will host Miami on Sept. 12, in one of the 4:25 p.m. games on the CBS schedule. The 1 p.m. CBS games include the New York Jets at Carolina and Pittsburgh at Buffalo. It is likely that Pittsburgh at Buffalo will be the big 1 p.m. game, so WRGB may have a choice between those two games in the 1 p.m. window. Cleveland at Kansas City will probably be the national 4:25 p.m., game, so the Pats-Miami tilt will be on CBS3 and possibly WRGB.
CBS3 will, as usual, have Patriots games. WRGB could double up on some Patriots games, depending on whether CBS has doubleheaders, or if the Jets and Bills are on other networks.
A look at the schedules of all four teams shows that there is one conflict, and as usual, it comes when the Patriots are on Fox.
In Week 3, the New Orleans Saints come to Gillette Stadium. The kickoff is 1 p.m., and the game is being televised by Fox. However, the New York Giants are playing the Atlanta Falcons at MetLife Stadium on that Sunday. Kickoff for that game is also 1 p.m., and it is a Fox broadcast as well. Since the Giants are the designated NFC team in the Albany market, and the Albany market is where the majority of Berkshire County’s over-the-air television broadcasts come from, WXXA will in all likelihood carry the Falcons-Giants game. That leaves Patriots fans without cable coverage that day.
The good news for Patriots fans is that game appears to be the only conflict for 2021.
Others could appear down the road due to the policy of networks flexing other games into their schedules during the final weeks of the season.
Patriots fans won’t even have to go to the NFL Network for New England’s Thursday night game. New England will travel to Atlanta for a Thursday, Nov. 18, game. That contest will be aired on Fox and the NFL Network.
And arguably the biggest game of the Patriots’ schedule will be a Sunday Night game on NBC. On Oct. 3, it’ll be a welcome home party for Patriots legend Tom Brady, as Brady and the Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Bucs hit Gillette Stadium for an 8:20 p.m. kickoff.