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Jim Nantz’s arrival signals big game for Patriots

Tom Brady and the Patriots will host the Colts on Sunday.
Tom Brady and the Patriots will host the Colts on Sunday. Stephan Savoia/AP

Patriots fans probably don’t require the reminder, but let’s offer it just in case you’re still checking that outdated magnet schedule stuck to your refrigerator. On Nov. 5, Sunday’s game against the Colts was flexed from its original 1 p.m. start to 4:25 p.m., and with good reason. Indianapolis, led by No. 1 overall pick Andrew Luck, has emerged as one of the surprises of the season and will enter the game with the same 6-3 record as the Patriots.

“The whole thing has a lot to offer,’’ said Jim Nantz, who along with analyst Phil Simms will call the game for CBS. “The Colts are gaining momentum. That locker room appearance by Chuck Pagano [the head coach who took a leave of absence in September when he was diagnosed with leukemia; he is now in remission] a couple of weeks ago was very heartfelt, and with the win streak they’re on right now, having won four in a row, and if the playoffs were this weekend, this would be a matchup.


“And then of course, Luck and [Tom] Brady. It’s a glamour game. It’s what I call a glamour game. It’s bankable, it has stars. Tom Brady is still one of the greatest stars in the sport. And now you’ve got Luck, who is one of the heir apparents.’’

Nantz, who will be calling his fifth Patriots game of the season alongside Simms as CBS’s No. 1 tandem, said playing the perennially contending Patriots is a barometer for the Colts, who have emerged as an unlikely playoff candidate.

“The last time I saw the Patriots was in London when they were playing the Rams, and I think the Rams kind of looked at it like, ‘How good are we?’ ” Nantz said. “The players go into this game so accustomed to seeing New England play. If they’re young, they’ve been watching them for years crank out great teams, and I think a lot of times they’re a little starry-eyed when they walk out there.


“[Bill] Belichick would laugh at that, scoff at that, but teams do look at New England and the Belichick program and think, ‘Can we really beat them?’

“But for Indianapolis, no question, they have a chance to come into this game and look at it and say, ‘Where are we? Let’s measure ourselves.’ It’s a new cast. This is all new territory for them. I’m interested to see how they respond.”

It has been a little more than a month since Jon Meterparel left WEEI’s “Dennis and Callahan’’ morning show, and while he can still be heard as the voice of Boston College football and men’s basketball, the search to replace him as the “sports flash’’ update person and third voice on the program is ongoing.

The parade of familiar names mixed with who’s-hes? has included just a couple who have clicked with hosts John Dennis and Gerry Callahan, and it remains a tough race to handicap.

Mike Adams, the nighttime host whose contract is up in December and who according to industry sources wants the job, has effortless chemistry with them, but the fit may not be what the station is looking for demographically, given 98.5 The Sports Hub’s consistent edge with younger listeners. (Perhaps Adams should break out the old locking-myself-in-the-studio stunt, which “worked’’ when he got the nighttime gig in December 2006.)


Kirk Minihane is opinionated and quick, bantering easily with Callahan in particular, but the belief here is that more prominent opportunities await him at the station.

Pete Sheppard is another in-house option who covets the gig, but his personality, which worked on “The Big Show,” seems too dominant on D&C.

Jen Royle generated buzz — a woman who can hold her own with Dennis and Callahan would change the show’s dynamic — but the internal reaction at the station was not favorable.

Program director Jason Wolfe said via e-mail Thursday that the list of potential replacements is winding down, with perhaps one or two more auditioning, and that he hopes to have the role filled within a couple of weeks.

Dickerson missed

Kyle Draper has done a fine job as sideline reporter during Celtics broadcasts on Comcast SportsNet New England, but the longer Greg Dickerson is absent, the more his absence is noticed, at least in terms of readers asking about his whereabouts. Dickerson, who revealed his struggles with epilepsy and Tourette syndrome last season, continues to deal with health issues. He has yet to work a game this season but is expected back soon, according to the network. For a genuinely nice guy who has a great appreciation for his job and does it well, it’s reassuring to hear that so many viewers have missed him . . . Kudos to WEEI, which was honored Tuesday as the recipient of the 2012 Global Lung Cancer Coalition Journalism Award for its coverage of the disease during the annual Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon. Wolfe accepted the honor on the station’s behalf . . . NBC Universal named Jim Bell executive producer of its Olympics coverage Tuesday, a decision that came as little surprise after his significant role in the network’s ratings success during the London Games. Bell, who will report to NBC Sports Group chairman Mark Lazarus, served as executive producer of the “Today’’ show for the past seven years, but his background is in sports. He is a former All-Ivy League defensive lineman at Harvard and his first job at NBC was as a runner at the 1992 Barcelona Games.


Chad Finn can be reached at finn@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at GlobeChadFinn.