Four short-week games have been played this season, and not a single one has been very good to watch.
The Ravens beat the Steelers, 26-6. The Falcons blasted the Bucs, 56-14. The Giants won in Washington, 45-14. And last night the Packers pummeled the Purple Paste Eaters, 42-10.
So what’s wrong with Thursday Night Football? It’s still possible that it’s simply the luck of the draw, and that these games would have been snoozers on a Sunday, too. With anywhere from 10 to 13 other games played on every given Sunday, bad games don’t stand out the same way they do when there’s only one game to watch, to discuss, to debate, and ultimately to criticize.
If the blowouts continue, however, it will be time to look more carefully at the potential causes. It could be that any gaps in talent become more pronounced when the two teams have less time to prepare. It also could be that injuries that otherwise would have healed by Sunday result in something other than the best players being available, like last night when Teddy Bridgewater wasn’t able to suit up for the Vikings.
It ultimately could be that consistently expecting teams to play with only three days off between games isn’t the best way to get the most competitive contests.
Regardless of whether it’s the start of a trend or a fart in the wind, Thursday Night Football is going nowhere. With the NFL now the only property capable of delivering a live eight-figure audience on a consistent basis, the short-week games will continue — and the networks will continue to throw money at the NFL for the privilege of televising the games.
CBS secured the right to do so for this year. Next year and beyond, the games could be on NBC. The quality of the games won’t matter, as long as the games continue to deliver the eyeballs.
But if the short-week games still stink, this is one stooge who won’t stay silent and/or gripe about how people from networks who didn’t win the contract are making snarky remarks about the poor quality of play. Absent honest complaints about the problems with Thursday Night Football, the product could deteriorate to the point that the eyeballs find something else to eyeball.