As NFL coverage moves toward the divisional round, we give out awards to the league's top broadcasters.
Best game team: NBC's Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth, who have an almost uncanny ability to read each other's mind. Seldom do they overlap with redundant comments.
And dare I raise the opinion that Collinsworth is more concise about coverage than his predecessor, John Madden?
CBS's Jim Nantz and Phil Simms and Fox's Joe Buck and Troy Aikman regularly turn in professional broadcasts but don't quite display the cohesiveness of the NBC duo.
And a nod to the underrated Mike Mayock, the NFL Network's seasoned analyst who worked efficiently throughout the season with play-by-play man Brad Nessler.
Mayock, teaming Saturday with NBC's Dan Hicks, didn't miss a beat while analyzing the Indianapolis Colts' heart-stopping win over the Kansas City Chiefs.
Best sideline reporter: NBC's Michele Tafoya.
CBS? The network hasn't had regular sideline help during the regular season since the excellent Armen Keteyian departed six years ago to become a hard-news reporter.
During the playoffs, the network is using Tracy Wolfson, who has proved her worth for several years working on the network's Saturday coverage of the SEC.
Best screen graphics: CBS's, hands down — or is it eyes up?
The network's readable line at the top of the screen features the most coherent information: score, down-and-distance and time remaining, without infringing upon the action.
The best performers: Dan Marino and Bill Cowher, who rely on their playing and coaching backgrounds for predictions.
“NFL on Fox” has the larger audience mainly because of NFC coverage in five of the six largest TV markets: New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas and San Francisco.
My favorite: the steady Howie Long, able to offer perspective without an overload of showbiz material. Frankly, Terry Bradshaw drives me crazy.
Both pregame programs had audience increases this season, reflecting the overall growth of game coverage Sunday afternoon and Sunday and Monday nights.