Thursday Night Football gave us yet another clunker this week, with the Titans leading the Jaguars 27-0 at halftime and ultimately winning 36-22, with garbage time comprising the final two quarters.
Nothing about this was particularly surprising.
“Usually at least half the (Thursday) games are wipeouts, like we saw tonight with Tennessee and Jacksonville,” NFL Network analyst Steve Wyche said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “It’s typically the road team that just doesn’t show up. They play Sunday, they practice Monday and Tuesday, travel Wednesday – so they don’t have much time to prepare on the surface. But these teams have been preparing a lot for this over the summer with their play. It’s more of a physical recovery than a mental recovery, and that’s tough.”
Wyche, however, believes that Thursday games get better as the season progresses.
“You hear about the Thursday night games (a lot now), but as the season wears on, those are important games,” he said. “They tend to be a little bit more competitive. People aren’t complaining about them as much. Baseball season is over. The NBA really hasn’t kicked in, so it all of a sudden turns more into its own holiday like Monday night. So yeah, I get it. I understand it. I’m not necessarily the biggest fan of Thursday Night Football, but overall, we see a couple games (every Sunday) that look like these Thursday-night games. It’s just kind of how it is.
“It’s been happening so long now that every team knows it’s coming,” Wyche continued. “Every team knows they get and extra buy, so to speak, after Thursday night. They get a 10-day break. So it’s part of it, and almost every team has to go through it every year, so you just kind of deal with it.”
NFL ratings, however, are down across the board, and poor play – or at least lopsided play – could be a culprit. Should the NFL be concerned about this?
“I think it has to be concerned,” Wyche said. “It seemed like the golden goose, like the bubble would never burst. I do think the presidential election is really occupying a lot. The ratings for CNN and Fox News and MSNBC are through the roof. When I go into team facilities, it used to always be on NFL Network or ESPN. Well, CNN is on in some of these facilities. It’s on in our building. So I’m going be very interested to see post-election what happens because not only will this incredible election be over with, but now is when the playoff field should be taking shape. And if all of a sudden, there’s still a lack of traction, then there’s problems. Why is it that people aren’t watching? Some people are like, ‘The games aren’t very good.’ It’s the same thing every year. It’s the same thing every year. Not all games are going to be competitive, but as the season goes on, they get to be that way.
“I think it’s a very, very interesting dynamic,” Wyche continued. “The 18-to-35-year-old is a target audience, but that 20-to-25-year-old audience now is very Netflix-y and Amazon Prime and things like that. I have a 23-year-old son and he doesn’t have cable. He watches things via that way. He’s a big sports fan, but he wants to watch what he wants to watch when he wants to watch it. It’s just really interesting to see if these are viewing habits or if it’s because this election is so absurd that people can’t turn away.”