Few Surprises In Week One
As NFL seasons go, week one was a rather tame beginning to the new season. Because nothing is ever certain, there were a couple of eye-openers, but overall when compared to years past, this was a so-so beginning to the year.
The biggest news to come out of Week One was the across the board drop in TV ratings. According to reports in Forbes Magazine, Thursday night’s Broncos-Panthers game on NBC was off 8%. The Sunday afternoon games saw a ratings drop of 13%, and the Sunday night game was off 18% in the most important age group of 18-49 year olds. We won’t pretend to have the answers, but we have heard many opinions about this today including:
- Protests of the National Anthem
- Americans have given up cable and satellite dish subscriptions in record numbers
- The 2016 Presidential Election is more entertaining to follow
- Americans are souring on the concussion issue
- The game has become a one-dimensional game where all 32 teams play the same way
Or, it could just be that this past weekend was a really nice one to be outside enjoying nature, shopping malls, visiting relatives, or anything else. Maybe, the Chicago Cubs, New York Yankees, New York Mets, and Los Angeles Dodgers are contending for the Major League Playoffs in September, and more sports fans in the three largest markets were watching baseball. The Cubs and Jake Arrieta were on ESPN Sunday night.
We’ll see if the ratings return to normalcy in Week Two. There are some really interesting contests this week, so let’s take a look at a reason to watch if you can get these games.
Jets at Bills
One of these teams is going to be 0-2, facing a mountain to conquer to get into the playoffs. The odds for finishing 9-7 or better after an 0-2 start since 2000 is something like 5-7%, and when you consider that the Patriots are going to win double digit games, we are talking about a Wildcard prospect. The loser of this game can almost count itself out in the 2016 playoff race rather quickly, as both teams must still play New England twice. If Buffalo loses, the Ryan brothers may wish to try going over Niagara Falls in a barrel made for two.
49ers at Panthers
The odds are overwhelmingly stacked against San Francisco this week. They played a late Monday night game, while Carolina played last Thursday night. They must travel all the way across the country to face a mad Panthers’ team that felt like they blew their opener on the road. Carolina is a good touchdown better at home than they are on the road, while San Francisco is young and still learning Chip Kelly’s philosophy on the fly. If the 49ers can pull off a monumental upset, or even if they continue to play top notch defense and lose a close game, the folks in Phoenix and Seattle will certainly take notice, and the folks in the Bay Area will become fanatical once again. If Carolina loses, then the South race becomes wide open.
Titans at Lions
The way the Lions came back in the closing seconds to top the Colts further reinforces our preseason beliefs that this team is capable of challenging for a playoff spot. Detroit has the easiest path to a 2-0 record as the Titans continue to bring up the rear in the NFL. Their archaic offensive playing style does not win in the NFL in the 21st Century, as football metrics show the teams that pass the ball and defend the pass the best are the teams that win big. Running games may look like the way to go, but in most instances, rushing statistics are inflated by teams running the ball to eat the clock once their passing game and pass defense has secured a winnable lead. The Titans have issues against the pass as well, while Detroit can put up 300 passing yards against almost any team. Expect a lopsided win for the home team in Motown.
Chiefs at Texans
One of these two teams will be 2-0 on Sunday, but 2-0 teams are not as sure of a lock at making the playoffs than 0-2 teams are at not making it. Still, 2-0 teams make the playoffs more than 60% of the time. Houston might have closer to an 80% chance of making the playoffs if the Texans win this game and the Colts lose. They could conceivably start the year with a two-game cushion on the entire division. Kansas City eeked out an overtime comeback win in week one, and the Chiefs have been a slow-starter in recent years. Should KC win this game, then watch out AFC fans–if the road to the Super Bowl runs through Arrowhead Stadium, the home field advantage in Kansas City in January is about as strong as the home field advantage at Bryant Denny Stadium in November.
Saints at Giants
Sean Payton’s magic may be going the way of former Giants head man Tom Coughlin. The Saints can still move the ball and score points, but their defense has never been the same since Bountygate. As long as Eli Manning has Odell Beckham, and now he has Victor Cruz, the Giants can put points on the board with anybody. Because the Giants also have a halfway decent defense, a win this week makes the NFC East look very winnable. The Saints need to win to keep even with Carolina and to possibly stay within a game of the surprising Bucs.
Bengals at Steelers
This may be the most important rivalry game between these teams since Terry Bradshaw and Ken Anderson faced off against each other back in the 1970’s, and Paul Brown played human chess against Chuck Noll. Quite frankly, these two teams could be contending for the top won-loss record in the AFC, and the fans of both teams understand how a rivalry should be played.
Buccaneers at Cardinals
Cardinals’ GM Steve Keim was fully in his rights to lash out against the poor performance of his team Sunday night, but doing it in such a public manner might prove to be counterproductive in the 21st Century. This isn’t 1978 when George Steinbrenner’s media monologues could light a fire under his team. What’s Keim going to do next–fire Bruce Arians? Who would be his Bob Lemon? Tampa Bay meanwhile looked like a solid team in an opener against Atlanta. The game should be interesting even if the extracurricular activities have no effect at all.
Seahawks at Rams
Los Angeles is not that inept; last night’s debacle cannot be the norm for the Rams. Or could it? We’re talking about a team of nomads with no real home just yet. They have had to sojourn all over the LA area this summer, and they looked like a team that had been wandering in the desert for 40 years with no help from the Great Master. Jeff Fisher is not Moses. Pete Carroll was once treated like Moses in this town, and he will return to play a game in the great coliseum where he led the USC Trojans to victory almost every time in that venue. This will be the first NFL regular season game in the LA Coliseum since December of 1979. There’s even been a Dodgers game in this facility since the Rams last played here.
Falcons at Raiders
When is the last time Oakland began the year 2-0? It was 2002, when the Raiders last played in the Super Bowl. This is a team that is riding sky high after coming from behind to win in New Orleans Sunday afternoon. Coach Jack Del Rio showed confidence in his team by going for two to either win or lose the game rather than take the almost automatic tie and go to overtime. When Oakland converted, it boosted the morale and confidence in the Silver and Black. It was probably worth an extra 3 to 5 points to their team for the near future. Meanwhile, the Falcons began the season with the same belief, but that enthusiasm and confidence crash and burned after losing to Tampa Bay. This could be another 0-2 team already looking at 2017 rather than 2016 if Atlanta loses this week.
Packers at Vikings
What better way to end Sunday night than to watch the great white north rivalry? Unless your name is Ole, Lena, or Sven, you may not realize how great a rivalry this is. Even when one team is down and the other is strong, this game tends to be quite worthwhile to view. Because both teams currently are rather strong, this becomes the top game of the night, or maybe the co-top game with the Pittsburgh-Cincinnati game. This year, this game takes on more importance, because most likely the Lions will already be 2-0 when the rivals kick off.
Here are this week’s NFL PiRate Ratings
|Current NFL PiRate Ratings|
|A F C|
|N. Y. Jets||103.5||101.1||104.7||103.1||61||42|
|N F C|
Here are this week’s spreads
|Buffalo||New York Jets||-2.6||0.8||-3.7||17-19|
|New York Giants||New Orleans||2.4||-1.1||2.8||28-27|