The good, the bad, the idiotic: Ranking the Top NFL announcing teams

click to enlarge Al and Cris: Simply the best.
Al and Cris: Simply the best.

Now that the NFL is back, I can happily return to my fall NFL Sunday routine: making breakfast, sinking into my recliner, and spontaneously yelling at the TV.

"YOU'RE AN IDIOT" is something I might say to the TV.

Another good one: "WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT, TROY?"

Typically, I'm not screaming at the players or the coaches. I'm yelling at the announcers.

Critiquing a bad broadcast gets me just as worked up as watching the Seahawks let a mediocre quarterback like Kirk Cousins march up and down the field. Likewise, a good, informative announcing crew leaves me delighted, as if the three hours I spent watching a bunch of padded-up dudes knock each other around was not a waste of time.

Because I wish other people cared about this as much as I do, I've ranked my top NFL announcer teams. I don't have space for all of them here, just the ones you're likely to see most often.

1. Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth — NBC

While it's fun to mock Collinsworth for that noise he makes that sounds like a creepy Santa laugh — "Oh, ho ho, that was great, Al" — at least he's excited. And then, thanks to a great production crew, Collinsworth immediately has the replay to break down what happened. Great stuff all around.

2. Jim Nantz and Tony Romo — CBS

Some people don't like it, but I love when Romo calls out a play before it happens. But for me, what makes Romo the best color commentator are those times they show guys talking and Romo adds his own dialogue, creating a comedic scene on the fly. Truly great TV.

3. Peyton Manning and Eli Manning — ESPN

Somehow the new alternate broadcast with the Manning brothers is much better than the regular Monday Night Football broadcast. It feels natural, like these two all-time-great quarterbacks (depending how you feel about Eli) are sitting in the living room with me. It's refreshing as the last game of the week.

4. Gus Johnson and Aqib Talib — FOX

Really, anytime Gus Johnson is on the call, you can not only count on him making everything more awesome, but also on awesome things happening because he's there. I'm convinced that 109-yard "Kick Six" in the recent Jaguars-Cardinals game would not have happened if anyone else but Johnson had been calling the game.

5. Joe Buck and Troy Aikman — FOX

This is a bit of a hot take, but I think Buck is great. He's funny and attentive and knows what he's doing. But I've had enough of him and Troy Aikman. I've spent years trying to figure out why I feel this way, and here's where I've landed: Buck and Aikman's voices sound too much alike. Seriously. By the end of the broadcast, I never want to hear either of them again.

Somewhere way down the list...Kevin Kugler and Mark Sanchez — FOX

Remember that deep Russell Wilson throw with three minutes left in the Seahawks-Vikings game that was incomplete because of a clear pass interference in the end zone? The production crew kept showing this play, over and over, begging Sanchez to suggest this was, in fact, a penalty. But Sanchez was clueless. I was losing my mind, screaming at the TV. I may or may not have written this entire column just to complain about it. ♦