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Road to Super Bowl LIII: CBS gets ‘small dress rehearsal’ in stadium Sunday

The Falcons-Ravens game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Sunday afternoon will draw the same CBS broadcast crew that will return for a somewhat larger game in the same stadium in early February. 

Play-by-play voice Jim Nantz, analyst Tony Romo and sideline reporter Tracy Wolfson will work Sunday’s game, as they will Super Bowl LIII on Feb. 3. Lead producer Jim Rikhoff, lead director Mike Arnold and replay producer Ryan Galvin also will work the Falcons-Ravens telecast for CBS, the same roles they’ll have for the Super Bowl. 

“We wanted to get a shot at doing a game in (Mercedes-Benz Stadium) before the Super Bowl,” Arnold said by phone from New York as he waited to board a flight to Atlanta on Thursday. “It’s a good chance to kind of work out any kinks that we may have technically in the stadium.

“I think it’s a small dress rehearsal for what we’re going to try to accomplish.” 

Of course, a Super Bowl broadcast can’t really be replicated in a regular-season broadcast. For example, CBS will use 15 to 17 cameras for Sunday’s game, typical for a regular-season NFL telecast, Arnold said. For the Super Bowl, CBS will use 40 to 50 cameras, he said. 

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The CBS crew working Sunday’s game and the Super Bowl is different than the crew for Saturday’s SEC Championship game in Mercedes-Benz Stadium, also on CBS. But there will be some carryover, Arnold said. 

“We’re going to share some facilities from the SEC Championship game that they’re going to leave over for us,” he said. To some extent, the extra equipment and production trucks left from Saturday will help test the stadium for the logistical demands of a Super Bowl broadcast. 

“We’re going to see how we can get all the trucks parked in the loading-dock area and make sure for our technical people that it is set up the right way with power and things like that,” Arnold said. 

Arnold, who has directed the telecasts of four previous Super Bowls, said Mercedes-Benz Stadium will be a fitting setting for the big game. 

“It looks like it’s going to be a sensational venue,” he said. “The camera positions look good. We’ve got a great big announce booth. I think the oculus jumbotron (video board) is a unique feature. I think it’s going to be a spectacular look for the Super Bowl.” 

It will be the 20th Super Bowl televised on CBS, the most on any network. Under the NFL’s current broadcast contracts, Super Bowl telecasts rotate among CBS, NBC and Fox, with each network televising one Super Bowl every three years. 

Nantz has called CBS’ past four Super Bowls (2007, 2010, 2013 and 2016).

CBS lead NFL director Mike Arnold (left) and lead producer Jim Rikhoff will work Sunday's Falcons-Ravens game -- and Super Bowl LIII. (CBS Sports)

SUPER BOWL BRIEFS

> The NFL will have a large delegation of executives, staffers, contractors and consultants in Atlanta from Monday until Thursday for a series of Super Bowl planning meetings.  About 300 people, including locals, will participate.

> The New Orleans Saints are now the favorite to win the Super Bowl in their arch-rival’s stadium, according to Vegas Insider. The Saints’ current odds to win the Lombardi Trophy here are 11/4, followed by the Los Angeles Rams at 4/1, Kansas City Chiefs at 9/2 and New England Patriots at 6/1.

> The Atlanta Super Bowl Host Committee held rallies Wednesday night  at five Gwinnett County high schools to celebrate the 19 teams in the Gwinnett Girls Flag Football League.

* * * 

Catch up on past editions of the AJC’s weekly “Road to  Super Bowl LIII” notebook:

Host committee sees work to do but ‘no red flags’

NFL likes downtown Atlanta’s layout for Super Bowl events 

Midseason picks to reach Atlanta 

Broadcasts, security will require changes in and around Mercedes-Benz Stadium

NFL adopts $2 hot dogs for the big game

> Large NFL delegation in Atlanta for planning

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