Previewing NFL Week 8

The NFL is paying the price of parity.

For the second week in a row, it has only one game featuring two teams with winning records. This week, it is 6-1 Giants vs. 4-3 Seahawks, but it will share the FOX doubleheader window with the Rams-49ers, which was supposed to be a feature game, and Washington at Indianapolis.

The league thought the Rams-49ers game would be marquee matchups, but the 49ers were routed by the Chiefs last week to fall to 3-4 and the Rams are 3-3.

That is one of the NFL’s problems this year. Some of the teams they thought were going to contenders have turned out to be pretenders.

They thought they had a marquee matchup when they scheduled Green Bay at Buffalo in the Sunday night matchup. A duel between Josh Allen and Aaron Rodgers could be hyped as a possible Super Bowl matchup.

But the collapse of the Packers, who are 3-4 and lost to the Commanders last week, yes, the Commanders, took much of the luster off this matchup. It figures to be an easy win for the Bills, who figure to go to 6-1, leaving them a game ahead of the 5-2 Chiefs, who have a bye.  And it is not likely to be a ratings hit. Last Sunday night’s Steelers-Dolphins game drew only 15.53 million viewers. The Chiefs-49ers doubleheader game drew 22.29 million viewers. But it was still the least watched doubleheader game since Week One when both CBS and FOX had games.

The Bills get the top seed unless they lose two games and the Chiefs win out because the Bills have the head to head tiebreaker.

The NFL also thought it had a great matchup Thursday night on Prime with Baltimore at Tampa Bay, a Lamar Jackson-Tom Brady matchup. But the Bucs are 3-4 and the Ravens 4-3 so it isn’t a premier matchup.

According to Sports Media Watch, last week’s Thursday night game between the Saints and Cardinals drew a season low 7.82 million viewers. The Ravens-Bucs matchup figures to top that, but isn’t likely to get the ratings it would have gotten if the two teams were playing better.

Fox will feature Chicago at Dallas in the early window while CBS will feature Pittsburgh at Philadelphia in the early window.

The Eagles are coming off their bye week with a 6-0 record. They are the only unbeaten team in the league. The Eagles now play five losing teams in a row before they face 4-2 Tennessee on Dec. 4 so they could go into that game at 11-0. The only question is whether they will stub their toe somewhere along the line.

London will host the Broncos-Jaguars at 9:30 a.m. Eastern time – 7:30 a.m. in Denver — with both teams at 2-5. So it is a perfect London game. The European fans will pack the stadium regardless of the matchup. In the U.S. it will be shown on broadcast TV only in Jacksonville and Denver. It will also be shown on ESPN+.

NFL Week 7 in review

The unbeaten Philadelphia Eagles enjoyed their bye week as they continue to look like the team to beat in the NFC.

Two teams that were expected to challenge them, Green Bay and Tampa Bay, both lost to fall to 3-4. Neither Aaron Rodgers nor Tom Brady are playing well as the Packers lost to Washington and the Bucs lost to the Panthers. The loss to the Panthers was embarrassing as backup quarterback P.J Walker threw two touchdown passes while Brady was held to three points. 

The Giants beat the Jaguars to go 6-1 while the Vikings had a bye to remain 5-1. They are the only one loss teams in the NFC but look to be more pretenders than contenders.

The Cowboys got Dak Prescott back and rolled to to a 24-6 win over the Lions. The Cowboys are 5-2 but trail the Eagles by two games in the loss column

Meanwhile the AFC remains a two team race between the 5-1 Bills, who had a bye and the 5-2 Chiefs, who rolled to a 44-23 win over the 49ers.

The 5-2 Jets and 4-2 Titans both won and are the only other two teams in the AFC to have two losses but neither appears likely to challenge the Bills and Chiefs in battle for top seed.

Previewing NFL Week 7

All you need to know about Week 7 of the NFL season is that the Sunday night prime time game features 2-4 Pittsburgh at 3-3 Miami.

And the NFL decided not to flex the game because it doesn’t have a great matchup this week to flex.

The best matchup is 4-2 Kansas City at 3-3 San Francisco, but that is the Fox late game so they aren’t going to move that into prime time.

The only game in which both teams have winning records features 3-2-1 Indianapolis at 3-2 Tennessee in a battle for the AFC South lead, but that is not exactly a marquee matchup worth flexing.

Dallas at 4-2 hosts 1-4 Detroit while the 4-2 Chargers host 3-3 Seahawks.

It doesn’t help that 6-0 Philadelphia and 5-1 Buffalo and Minnesota and 3-3 Rams all have byes.

The Giants keep pulling out close games and are 5-1, but the odds makers aren’t convinced they are for real and they are underdogs at 2-4 Jacksonville

The Thursday night game is another dud with two teams with losing records – 2-4 Arizona hosting 2-4 New Orleans.

The Monday night game has 2-4 Chicago at 3-3 New England.

The NFL owners met this week in New York, but no signs they are concerned about the poor play and lack of quality matchups. But they did decide to give Prime a black Friday matchup next year. 

Meanwhile, the money keeps rolling in so they have no incentive to be concerned about the quality of play.

NFL Week 6 in review

The Philadelphia Eagles and the Buffalo Bills have never met in a Super Bowl.

Don’t be surprised if it happens this year.

The teams took a big step in that direction Sunday when the Bills beat the Chiefs 24-20 as Josh Allen outdueled Patrick Mahomes and the Eagles beat the Cowboys 26-17 as backup quarterback Cooper Rush threw three picks for the Cowboys.

The Bills are now the only 5-1 team in the AFC and have a game lead on the Chiefs, Chargers and Jets in the battle for the top seed.

Granted, the Chiefs lost to the Bills in the regular season last year and then beat them in the 13 second game in the playoffs but the Bills are likely to host the playoff game if the two teams meet again. Since the Bills have the head to head tie-breaker, the Chiefs would have to finish a game ahead of them to get home field advantage. 

Last year, the Bills had to play the playoff game in Kansas City because they went 11-6 in the regular season. It’s difficult to imagine this Bills team losing six games this year.

The Eagles are in an even better position than the Bills. They have a two game lead over the 4-2 Cowboys although they will play again Christmas Eve in Dallas. The Cowboys should have Dak Prescott for their Christmas Eve game but the Eagles look like the team to beat.

There are two 5-1 teams in the conference – Minnesota and the Giants – but neither team looks like they can overtake the Eagles, who have already beaten the Vikings. And the Giants are underdogs Sunday against the 2-4 Jaguars and have to play the Eagles twice.

And two teams who figured to be contenders, Tom Brady and the Bucs and Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, are both 3-3 after both teams lost Sunday. The Packers lost to the Jets and the Bucs to the Steelers.

In the AFC, San Diego was expected to be a contender and is 4-2, but had to go to overtime to beat Denver. Quarterback Justin Herbert hasn’t been the same since suffering a cartilage injury.

And both Super Bowls teams from year ago, the Rams and Bengals are 3-3. So is San Francisco. So are Baltimore and the Dolphins. And while the Jets are 4-2, they don’t look like a contender and play the Bills twice.

Unless a team gets on a roll in the second half of the season, it looks like the Bills and Chiefs and Eagles and Cowboys will battle for the Super Bowl slots this year,

Previewing NFL Week 6

The NFL will have its best TV doubleheader of the season Sunday.

The Bills-Chiefs game at Kansas City will be televised nationally by CBS as the second game starting at 4:25 p.m. The network has no other late game and Fox only has two late games –Carolina at the Rams and Arizona at Seattle. The Carolina-Rams game will be shown on Fox in Jacksonville because the Jaguars play at 1 p.m. on CBS.

Then the Sunday night game on NBC will feature the Cowboys at the Eagles.

Both figure to be ratings blockbusters. The Chiefs-Bills game is a rematch of the 13 second playoff game last January when the Bills took the lead with 13 seconds remaining, but the Chiefs came back to tie it and win in overtime.

And the Cowboys continue to be a ratings draw. Their game with the Rams last Sunday was viewed by 24.5 million fans and was the fourth largest draw of the season. 

The Bills are favored by 2.5 and the Eagles are favored by six. 

The two winners are going to be the frontrunners to get the top seeds in the AFC and NFC although there is still a long way to go. The Bills-Chiefs winner will be the only 5-1 team in the AFC. If Eagles beat the Cowboys, they will remain the only unbeaten team at 6-0 while a Cowboy win would leave the two teams tied at 5-1.

Two other NFC teams – the Vikings and Giants  — are trying to get to 5-1. The Vikings are favored by 3.5 points over the Dolphins while the Giants are five point underdogs against the Ravens.

Meanwhile, the ratings for the doubleheader window have increased the last four weeks over last year and the Chiefs-Bills figure to make it five.

Last week’s Sunday night game between the Ravens and Bengals drew a season low of 15.88 million fans while the Raiders-Chiefs on Monday night was watched by 15.88 million fans on ESPN. It was the most watched Week 5 MNF game since 2011.

There will be eight 1 p.m. games on CBS and Fox, but only two will get much attention outside of the local markets. CBS will show the Ravens-Giants in most of the country and Fox will show the Jets-Packers in much of the country.

The other two prime time games this weekend are not feature attractions  – Washington at Chicago on Thursday night on prime and Denver at the Chargers Monday night. Neither figures to get good ratings.

Four teams – Titans, Lions, Raiders and Texans – will have byes this week.