Is interest in the NFL plateauing?

The NFL has never been more successful.

It now makes billions of dollars every year and is the most watched programming on television. In the 100 channel universe, it draws the most viewers and the TV rightsfees  keep going up.

But the strange thing is that the Super Bowl ratings seem to be at a plateau. The game drew 133 million viewers but that was a million less than what they drew in 2017. It figured to drop during Covid but hasn’t bounced all the way back.

And the halftime show drew 5 million more viewers than the game.

The NFL makes so much money that it may not be a matter of concern. But the NFL likes to think the game keeps growing.

Maybe the league has reached a saturation point in the U.S., which may explain why it is playing five games in London and in Germany.

Whether this develops into a problem remains to be seen. But it is something worth watching in the future.

Reid belatedly proving one of the all-time greats

Andy Reid took two decades to become an overnight sensation.

He started his head coaching career with the Eagles in 1999 and posted a 140-102-1 record before being fired after the 2012 season when the Eagles slumped to 4-12 after an 8-8 season.

The rap on him is that he couldn’t win the big one. He went to only one Super Bowl in Philadelphia and lost it to the Patriots after the 2004 season when he failed to go to an up-tempo offense trailing by 10 in the fourth quarter and wound up losing by three. He made it to five NFC championship games and lost four of them.

He was quickly hired by the Chiefs in 2013 to take over a 2-14 team that had the first pick in the draft.

He had an immediate turnaround, going 11-5 in his first year to make the playoffs as a wild card team but lost his first playoff game to the Colts.

He then missed the playoffs in 2014 with a 9-7 record but made the playoffs in 2015 as a wild card team at 11-5 and won his first playoff game with the Chiefs by beating Houston before losing to New England.

Then in 2016 he started a string of seven consecutive division titles and started a string of hosting five consecutive AFC title games in 2018, won three of them to make the Super Bowl and won two of the three Super Bowls.

And now he is a folk hero and a first ballot Hall of Famer. He is one of the most liked coaches and pokes fun of himself for his weight, calling himself “chubby” and talks about loving cheeseburgers and pizza.

He will turn 65 next month and is being asked if he is considering retiring. But why should he retire?

Reid saved the best for last. He has been a head coach in the NFL for 24 consecutive years and shows no signs of burning out. He got a lot of props for his innovative play calling in the second half of the Super Bowl.

And Patrick Mahomes hasn’t even hit his prime yet. 

While Bill Belichick doesn’t have a playoff win in the last four years, Reid has won his first two rings the last two years. 

Don’t be surprised if he wins a few more.

Super Bowl decided by a call that probably shouldn’t have been made

The Super Bowl cemented the legacies of Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes as future Hall of Famers and gave the Kansas City Chiefs pole position in the race for Team of the Decade.

But the game will be remembered for The Call.

The holding call on James Bradberry with less than two minutes left sparked a debate that will never be resolved.

One side of the argument is that it was a good call and even Bradberry admitted he tugged JuJu Smith-Schuster’s jersey.

The other side is that it was a ticky tacky call that shouldn’t be made in that situation with the Super Bowl on the line. There are two main issues. One is consistency. They didn’t call holding the entire game and were seemingly letting them play. The other is if that is a foul, then maybe the definition of holding should be reviewed. Maybe a light tug that doesn’t impede the receiver shouldn’t be a foul.

It is a reminder of the confusing tuck rule that they eventually did away with it. Sometimes the rule book is too confusing.

The Call took the drama out of the game because the Eagles didn’t have time to try to tie it up or win it, but they can’t blame the call for the loss.

Although Jalen Hurts played a good game, his fumble gave the Chiefs a touchdown and the longest punt return in Super Bowl history set up another one and the Chiefs twice scored touchdowns by faking the Eagles out with motion plays that left the receivers wide open.

The Eagles defense also didn’t get a sack (although the bad footing may have contributed to that) and didn’t make one stop in the second half as the Chiefs scored all four times they had the ball, with touchdowns on the first three drives.

While the Chiefs now go for their third Super Bowl in the last five years, the Eagles will face the task of trying to become only the second team to lose the Super Bowl and win it the next year since the 1972 perfect Dolphins did it. Tom Brady did it once.

Unfortunately, Kansas City’s last two playoff wins wound up having the officials play too big a role. They missed two calls on the Chiefs’ final drive against Cincinnati and then gained an edge with the controversial call.

The Chiefs also will attempt to become the first team since the 2003-2004 Patriots to repeat.

Sunday’s winner could become NFL’s next dynasty

Can the best quarterback beat the best team?

That is the question hovering over Sunday’s Super Bowl.

Philadelphia has the better team with an edge on both the offensive and defensive lines. It is often said games are won or lost in the trenches and that is where the Eagles have the edge.

But they are only favored by a point or two because the Chiefs have Patrick Mahomes, who is appearing in his third Super Bowl in the last four years although he is still recovering from an high ankle sprain.

The Eagles also have a good quarterback in Jalen Hurts, who is in his third season and first Super Bowl but he is not yet in Mahomes class.

One thing they have in common is that they are both black quarterbacks and it is the first time both starting quarterbacks in the Super Bowl are black. That says more about how long it took for the NFL to play black quarterbacks than it does about them.

Another popular storyline is that Andy Reid will be coaching against the team that fired him after the 2012 season. He made one Super Bowl in Philadelphia and lost it. He is 1-1 in Super Bowls with the Chiefs.

The two sides seem evenly matched. Both are 16-3. Both scored 546 points. Both have six all pro players and both were top seeds.

But that doesn’t mean it will be a close game. Only four games have had spreads of three points or less since 2002 when the league went to 32 teams and three were decided by 10 points of more.

The Eagles won the Super Bowl after the 2017 season and the Chiefs won after the 2019 season so the winner will get its second victory in either the last five or three years.

So next year the Eagles will be going for their third win in last six years or the Chiefs will be going for their third in the win in the last four years.

The league is looking for the next dominant team to replace the Patriots. The winner of this game will have a shot at that legacy.

Goodell is delusional about state of NFL officiating

If you want to fix a problem, the first thing you have to do is admit you have a problem.

But it is not the style of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to admit the league has any problems, at least when it comes to officiating.

He made the stunning comment Wednesday at the commissioner’s annual Super Bowl press conference that the officiating has never been better. Although he added it will never be perfect.

He is right about the second part because it is a difficult game to officiate.

But the officials still make too many mistakes, like in the Kansas City-Cincinnati game when the Chiefs’ game-winning drive was kept alive when the officials failed to call a block in back on a punt return and missed an obvious holding call on Patrick Mahomes late scramble. And then there was the do over.

Goodell pointed out there are 42,000 calls, but many of them are routine. They miss too many at critical times.

Aaron Rodgers has even speculated one of the problems is that the league loses too many good officials to TV and that they should pay them more. The NFL isn’t likely to go for that idea even though it is likely a good one.

The one thing we do now is that the end of the Chiefs-Bengals game and Gooell”s comments put even more pressure on the refs not to make any big mistakes in the Super Bowl.

Carl Cheffers will be th referee for the second time in three years, and his crew called the most penalties in the league for the second consecutive year although only one member of his regular season crew will be on the field for the Super Bowl.

Mike Pereira, the former director of officials who joined Fox in 2010 and will be in the booth, admits there will be pressure on the officials, but said they like the challenge.

We do know one thing. No matter what the officiating is like, Goodell will say it has never been better.