NFL Game Previews Example:
The Sports Xchange produces two previews for all NFL games to accommodate print customers with varying space availability. Examples of each below:
Format 1 - Approximately 150-175 words
New York Giants (8-7) at Minnesota Vikings (11-4)
Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET, FOX (Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston, Tony Siragusa)
Gameplan: The Vikings are working on getting RB Adrian Peterson more touches, but he hasn't reached 100 rushing yards for six consecutive games as the run blocking has deteriorated. The Giants could provide the solution after getting run over for 247 yards by Carolina. Without the consistent threat of Peterson popping big runs, opponents have successfully alternated between pressuring QB Brett Favre and dropping more defenders into coverage. Defensively, Minnesota's once-impenetrable run defense has taken a hit since losing MLB E.J. Henderson for the season. With RB Brandon Jacobs (knee) out, Ahmad Bradshaw will lead the charge on the ground, while QB Eli Manning will also target rookie replacement Jasper Brinkley in coverage.
Need to know: Manning is 0-3 with two touchdowns and eight interceptions in three career games against Minnesota. ... Peterson is averaging 4.3 yards per carry at home.
Atlanta Falcons (8-7) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-12)
Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET, FOX (Dick Stockton, Charles Davis)
Gameplan: While the Bucs have vastly improved their pass defense since coach Raheem Morris took over play-calling duties for the first meeting (a 20-17 Falcons victory Nov. 29), they're still allowing 156.5 yards per game on the ground. The Falcons will pound RBs Jason Snelling and Jerious Norwood and try to set up play-action for QB Matt Ryan, who could be without TE Tony Gonzalez (calf). The Bucs' ground game is equally important as Tampa Bay attempts to protect rookie QB Josh Freeman. The Falcons have clamped down on their run defense of late, limiting Buffalo to 2.2 yards per carry last Sunday.
Need to know: Falcons WR Roddy White has joined Andre Rison as the only Falcons with three consecutive 1,000-yard receiving seasons. ... The Bucs have allowed 17.4 points per game since Morris took over the defense, compared to 29 under Jim Bates.
Format 1 - GAME OF THE WEEK -- Approximately 300 words
Philadelphia Eagles (11-4) at Dallas Cowboys (10-5)
Sunday, 4:15 p.m. ET, FOX (Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Pam Oliver)
Last meeting: The Cowboys won, 20-16, in Philadelphia on Nov. 8.
Streaking: The Eagles are 11-0 in games in which they have led at the half.
Center of attention: The Eagles head into Sunday's showdown for the NFC East title breaking in new starting C Nick Cole, a guard sliding over to replace injured Jamaal Jackson. Cole has had a week of practice after struggling a bit after Jackson went down last Sunday. The Eagles are also working RB Brian Westbrook back into the mix more. But Dallas' defensive weakness is in deep coverage, and that's where the Eagles will attack with big-play WRs DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin - if Cole & Co. can give QB Donovan McNabb time.
Spread the wealth: The Cowboys are a physical offense up front that typically comes out looking to use RBs Marion Barber and Felix Jones to set up the pass. But QB Tony Romo led the way in the first meeting, passing for 307 yards with completions to seven different receivers. A concern for Dallas is short-yardage after failing to convert two fourth-and-1s last Sunday following a loss to the Chargers in which Barber was stuffed three straight times at the goal line.
Specialties: Cowboys special teams coach Joe DeCamillis will return after missing last Sunday's game following an emergency appendectomy.
Key injuries: Eagles: Jackson (torn right ACL) was placed on injured reserve. Cowboys: RT Marc Colombo (high ankle sprain) and SS Pat Watkins (sprained knee) are expected to sit out.
Need to know: Eagles CB Asante Samuels' nine interceptions are the most by an Eagle since Bill Bradley had nine in 1972. ... Romo has nine touchdown passes and one interception over the past five games.
Format 2 - Approximately 350-400 words
N.Y. Giants at Minnesota
Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET, at Mall of America Field, Minneapolis, Minn. - TV: FOX; DirecTV: 710
*TV announcers: Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston, Tony Siragusa
*Keys to the game: The Vikings have talked about getting RB Adrian Peterson more touches, and the Giants' run defense would appear to be a prime target to make sure the ground game is in good form entering the postseason. New York is allowing 109.6 rushing yards per game, but the front seven is losing too many battles and Carolina rushed for 247 yards last Sunday. The last thing the Vikings need is to watch QB Brett Favre take a pounding in the regular-season finale, and feeding the ball to Peterson will help that. The Giants' offense will attempt to chip away at the Vikings' run defense early. Minnesota has been a bit more vulnerable on the ground of late, and the Giants might give a bigger workload to the more agile Ahmad Bradshaw. The Vikings are difficult to move on between the tackles and Brandon Jacobs is averaging 3.0 yards per carry the past six games.
*Matchup to watch - Vikings LT Bryant McKinnie vs. Giants DEs Mathias Kiwanuka and Osi Umenyiora: McKinnie is another area the Vikings want to build up heading into the postseason. One of the league's top left tackles, he was pulled from the team's Week 15 loss, but needs to be in top form protecting QB Brett Favre's blind side and teaming with LG Steve Hutchinson for the team's strong left side run-blocking. Umenyiora was demoted to pass-rushing situations only four weeks ago and sounded off following the team's meltdown against Carolina last Sunday. Kiwanuka is expected to get another start, and someone needs to beat McKinnie in pass-rushing situations to aid the struggling secondary.
*Fast facts: Eli Manning is the first quarterback in Giants history with five consecutive seasons with 3,000-plus passing yards and at least 20 touchdowns. ... Peterson is averaging 4.3 yards per carry at home.
WHO WILL WIN AND WHY
The Giants fell flat with everything on the line in their final game at Giants Stadium last Sunday. With nothing on the line and on the road against one of the league's elite teams, their defense is again the main culprit in defeat
*Our pick: Vikings 35-17
Atlanta at Tampa Bay
Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET, at Raymond James Stadium, Tampa - TV: FOX; DirecTV: 714
*TV announcers: Dick Stockton, Charles Davis
*Keys to the game: The Bucs lost the first meeting, 20-17, in Atlanta five weeks ago. But that day also signaled changes for both teams. For Tampa Bay, it was the first game after coach Raheem Morris assumed defensive play-calling duties, and the pass rush and run defense has been far improved over the past four games. The Bucs will need both Sunday, because the Falcons will try to use RBs Jason Snelling and Jerious Norwood to set up play-action. QB Matt Ryan was knocked out of the first meeting with a turf toe injury that helped deflate Atlanta's playoff aspirations. Bucs rookie QB Josh Freeman has completed 27 of 57 passes over the past two weeks, but continues to turn the ball over regularly. However, Tampa Bay has managed a pair of road victories on the strength of a far more productive ground game.
*Matchup to watch - Falcons MLB Curtis Lofton vs. Bucs running game: Atlanta knows it will see plenty of RBs Carnell Williams and Earnest Graham as long as Tampa Bay is able to keep the game competitive. Lofton is the leader of the Falcons' run defense and tops the team with 129 tackles. However, Lofton's most impressive development this season has come in coverage. After coming off the field on obvious passing downs as a rookie, Lofton plays nearly every snap now and has become an excellent all-around defender. His coverage skills will come into play more if the Bucs fall behind, especially considering TE Kellen Winslow is Tampa Bay's top receiving threat working the seam.
*Fast facts: Falcons WR Roddy White has topped 1,000 receiving yards for the third consecutive season. ... Winslow has already set a single-season franchise record for tight ends with 72 receptions.
WHO WILL WIN AND WHY
Both teams are playing hard right to the finish line, but the Falcons are a playoff-caliber team when healthy. Even without RB Michael Turner, they have a more consistent offense and will be more productive in the red zone.
*Our pick: Falcons 24-16