There have been plenty of reasons (or excuses) for the NFL’s lackluster ratings through the first seven weeks of the 2016 season.
The presidential election, competition with debates, outrage over the Colin Kaepernick saga, cord-cutting, millennials and probably even Deflategate have all been blamed for the NFL’s sluggish numbers. But one crucial factor that hasn’t been mentioned enough is the NFL’s product is declining, particularly in primetime.
ESPN’s Kevin Seifert mentioned Monday night’s 27-9 victory for the Denver Broncos over the Houston Texans was the 11th primetime game this season (out of 22) that was decided by at least 14 points.
In other words: Half of the league’s primetime games have been blowouts.
Of course, some games have been competitive but just plain bad. Take Sunday night’s battle between the Arizona Cardinals and the Seattle Seahawks, which ended in a 6-6 tie. Sure, the game was compelling and probably got better ratings toward the end, but it was a rather boring game for 75 minutes.
Monday Night Football has been particularly atrocious this season. What Seifert didn’t mention was that seven of those 11 aforementioned primetime blowouts have been on Monday nights, which used to be the NFL’s premier package.
Tampa Bay’s 17-14 victory against Carolina on Oct. 10 has been the only Monday night game decided by single digits and the featured player in that game, Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, didn’t even play because of a concussion.
The Week 8 batch of primetime games probably won’t get started with much of a bang as AFC bottom feeders Jacksonville and Tennessee square off in Nashville. The Sunday Night Football game has potential, as rookie quarterbacks Carson Wentz and Dak Prescott will play each other in Dallas. The Monday night game features a pair of teams making their second appearances on ESPN when the Minnesota Vikings face NFC North rival Chicago.