Five out of seven Thursday night games have been worse than a reality show. Home teams have such an extreme advantage that watching these games is more of a waste of time than taking the time to view American Idol. Thursday Night Football has become an embarrassment to the NFL image.
It wasn’t necessary, and fans were ambivalent about it. The owners and CBS wanted it and their reason was simple; greed. Although the ratings may appear satisfactory, is anyone watching the second half of Thursday Night Football? The same was true for Super Bowl XLVIII; there was no reason to watch the fiasco after the beginning of the second quarter. Are advertisers wasting their money if their products are featured after halftime?
Americans watch sports because we love competition. Although the final score of 21-35 was not as lop-sided as several of the previous games, if you watched the game it was not as close as it appeared. The time of possession became the primary reason why San Diego was dominated, followed by offensive yards gained and those dreaded turnovers. The Chargers possessed the ball for 29 minutes and 14 seconds; the Broncos for 30 minutes and 46 seconds. On paper that doesn’t appear to create an unwinnable situation. In reality, the only way to beat Peyton Manning is to keep him off of the field. Denver’s defense dominated San Diego’s offensive line and allowed Manning to return to the field. The Chargers gained 306 offensive yards; the Broncos 425. San Diego committed two turnovers to Denver’s zero.
Home teams have won five of the seven Thursday night games. Admittedly the short turnaround from Sunday to Thursday affects both teams, but the home team has the advantage. Traveling reduces preparation time for the visitors by at least one day. The limited time between games also increases the chance for injury. And those who are already injured have less time to heal.
October 30th the Thursday night game will feature the New Orleans Saints at the Carolina Panthers. The Saints record is 2-4. They have won both home games and lost all four away games. It doesn’t look good for the Saints. Traveling on a short week predicts a defeat for Drew Brees’ team.
Like it or not it appears that Thursday Night Football is here to stay. 32 owners and Commissioner Goodell signed a lucrative contract with CBS and money trumps common sense.
I admit that there were two games which were actually competitive, but the ratio of 2-5 is not indicative of good football. It is an embarrassment to the NFL which thrives on competition.
By James Turnage