While Phillies fans will hear a familiar voice calling the Panthers-Buccaneers game Sunday on CBS alongside Tony Romo, much of the country will be turning to Google to ask, “Who is Tom McCarthy?”
McCarthy, who handles play-by-play of the Phillies on NBC Sports Philadelphia, was called in last minute to fill in for longtime CBS announcer Jim Nantz, who is out due to COVID-19 protocols.
It’s the first time since joining CBS as an analyst in 2017 that Romo will call a game with someone other than Nantz by his side. The game is scheduled to kick off at 4:25 p.m., and will air locally on CBS3. Tracy Wolfson will report from the sidelines.
Though most fans in Philadelphia associate McCarthy with the Phillies, where he’s been the team’s television voice since 2009, he isn’t exactly a stranger to the football booth. He’s been calling NFL games for CBS since 2014, mostly working alongside former Giants running back Tiki Barber and ex-kicker Jay Feely. Last season, McCarthy was solid calling a rare Tuesday night NFL game between the Ravens and Bills that had been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Still, this is easily the biggest assignment of McCarthy’s career — a Week 18 game with playoff implications featuring Tom Brady beamed into a majority of television markets across the country, including Philadelphia. Just don’t mention its importance to his Phillies broadcast partner, former first baseman John Kruk.
“Tell Tony Romo he is just borrowing you, we need you on the Phillies,” Kruk wrote on Twitter.
NFL playoff picture heading into Sunday’s Week 18 games
NFC playoff picture
AFC playoff picture
Here’s a preview of the games airing on television in Philadelphia on Sunday, and their playoff implications:
Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens
1 p.m., CBS3 (Ian Eagle, Charles Davis, Evan Washburn)
Both the Steelers and Ravens enter this game with a narrow chance to make the playoffs. The winner will advance to the postseason if the Jaguars somehow manage to upset the Colts (who are also fighting for a playoff spot) and Sunday night’s game between the Chargers and Raiders doesn’t end in a tie.
It’s also likely the last time fans will see Ben Roethlisberger donning a Steelers jersey. The two-time Super Bowl champ all but confirmed he’s walking away at the end of the season last Monday night following the Steelers’ win over the Browns, telling ESPN’s Lisa Salters he was glad to kneel down to seal the victory “one last time.”
Washington Football Team at New York Giants
1 p.m., Fox29 (Chris Myers, Daryl Johnston, Jen Hale)
Can’t think of too many reasons to tune into this one. It has zero impact on the NFC playoff picture and features two subpar teams Eagles fans have already seen in four of the last five weeks.
It’s not like Fox had much to work with. All the network’s 1 p.m. games — Packers-Lions, Bengals-Browns, Bears-Vikings — are very forgettable and have no impact on the playoffs
Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
4:25 p.m., CBS3 (Tom McCarthy, Tony Romo, Tracy Wolfson)
The Buccaneers still have a chance to end up with the NFC’s No. 2 seed. For that to happen, Tom Brady and company need a win against the Panthers paired with a loss by the Rams, who are facing the 49ers Sunday afternoon
As far as the Panthers go, a win might help former Temple head coach Matt Rhule, who appears to be on the hot seat after two underwhelming seasons with Carolina. Though ESPN reported the team plans on having him return next season, the Panthers home crowd was cheering “Fire Rhule” last week, which basketball fans repeated during a Charlotte Hornets game on Wednesday night.
San Francisco 49ers at Los Angeles Rams
4:25 p.m., Fox29 (Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews, Tom Rinaldi)
The 49ers still have the best chance of securing the NFC’s final wild card spot. All they have to do is defeat the Rams and they’re in, but San Francisco could still sneak into the playoffs if the Saints lose to the Falcons.
Meanwhile, the Rams enter the game as the NFC’s No. 2 seed, which they can secure with either a win or losses by the Cardinals and the Buccaneers.
Los Angeles Chargers at Las Vegas Raiders
8:15 p.m., NBC10 (Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya)
For both the Chargers and the Raiders, it’s a win-and-you’re-in situation, with the loser missing out on the playoffs.
However, if the game ends in a tie, both teams would move forward into the playoffs. So things could get really interesting if the game ends up in overtime.