In an ESPN "Front Row" podcast from late September (listen HERE), play-by-play announcer Mike Tirico pointed to next Monday night's Patriots-Texans game as one he was looking forward to calling.
"I think that might be the game between the two best teams in the AFC," Tirico said at the time, foreshadowing exactly the way it has unfolded. "Baltimore has something to say about that, but you could certainly make an argument that Houston and New England could end up, if healthy, as the AFC Championship game. That's a game that I'm really looking forward to anchor the back part of our schedule in December."
Tirico will call the game with Jon Gruden providing analysis and Lisa Salters the sideline reporter. It marks the Patriots' first game on ESPN's "Monday Night Football" this season.
2012 announcer pairings
at Titans: Jim Nantz/Phil Simms (CBS)
vs. Cardinals: Dick Stockton/John Lynch/Jennifer Hale (Fox)
at Ravens: Al Michaels/Cris Collinsworth (NBC)
at Bills: Greg Gumbel/Dan Dierdorf (CBS)
vs. Broncos: Nantz/Simms (CBS)
at Seahawks: Ian Eagle/Dan Fouts (CBS)
vs. Jets: Nantz/Simms (CBS)
at Rams (London): Nantz/Simms (CBS)
vs. Bills: Eagle/Fouts (CBS)
vs. Colts: Nantz/Simms (CBS)
at Jets: Michaels/Collinsworth (NBC)
at Dolphins: Gumbel/Dierdorf (CBS)
vs. Texans: Tirico/Gruden/Salters (ESPN)