Thursday Night Football is Awful, and the NFL Should Get Rid of It

serious-funWith the Bengals taking care of the Eagles 34-13 to kick off Week 15 of the 2012 season, Thursday Night Football (TNF) has finally come to a close. Back in September, I wrote a blog post with a hunch that TNF, for a variety of reasons, was going to suck this year. Now that we have 13 TNF games under our belts (Weeks 2 – 15, with the exception of the Thanksgiving games in Week 12, which were aired on CBS/FOX/NBC), I decided to take a look back at the games and see how they stacked up.

To determine the quality of TNF games this year, I looked at a couple things: 1) The records/scoring output of each TNF team, and 2) QB performance. Since the NFL has become a passing league, I figured this would be the easiest and best way to determine how efficient teams were on offense, and in turn, how exciting the games may or may not have been to watch.

I started by creating a spreadsheet to dump all relevant stats into. You can check it out here if you’d like. I listed every TNF matchup, the final score, and the QB stats for both the winning and losing teams. In games where multiple QBs saw action, I simply ignored the backup and focused on the starter. I then compared these TNF performances to each QB’s season averages. Since showing you a spreadsheet with a bunch of numbers scattered around wouldn’t tell you much, I did some analysis and picked out a handful of stats that I found quite telling. Like I said, I had a hunch that these TNF games were going to be bad, but honestly, I didn’t expect this.

  • The combined Win-Loss records for teams heading into their respective TNF matchups this year was 83-91.
  • There was only one TNF matchup out of the 13 in which both teams entered the game with a winning record (SEA @ SF in Week 7, which turned out to be the lowest scoring TNF game all year. San Francisco won 13-6).
  • The average margin of victory in TNF games this year was 13.5 points.
  • Only 31% of the games on TNF this year were one-possession games. 69% of the games were double-digit victories.
  • 54% of the winning teams on TNF this year scored below their respective season averages.
  • 77% of the quarterbacks who played on Thursday Night Football posted a QB rating lower than their QB rating for the season. And we’re not talking barely lower, by the way. We’re talking an average of 22 points lower. Horrendous QB play on TNF this year.
  • A grand total of 22 touchdown passes were thrown on Thursday Night Football this year. Compare that to 30 interceptions. In 13 games. Remember, these are totals. 13 games x 2 QBs per game = 26 total QBs. TNF QBs averaged less than a TD per game this year, and more than one INT. That’s insane.
  • Only four QBs (Bradford, Freeman, Rivers, Palmer) posted multi-TD games this year on TNF. That means that 85% of the QBs appearing on TNF this year threw zero or one TD.
  • Over half (58%) of QBs appearing on TNF threw for fewer yards than their season average. An average of 60 yards fewer, to be exact.

So what does all this mean? Ratings must have been horrible, right? Well, I’m not so sure about that, but I do know that I personally watched 100% of these games. Why? Because I’m addicted to the NFL. No matter how bad the matchup is or what day it’s on, I’m going to watch.

Who are the winners and losers in regards to Thursday Night Football? The only winner is the NFL, assuming the ratings were where they wanted them. The losers? The fans. The teams. The players. Literally every other party involved got totally shafted with Thursday Night Football this year. Players are not rested enough come Thursday, teams are not prepared, and the result is the steaming pile of crap that we were forced to endure every week. TNF is a total money grab.

The NFL needs to do away with Thursday Night Football. If they cared about the quality of the product they’re putting out (and more importantly, the health of their players), they’d get rid of TNF or AT LEAST trim it back to the late-season start like it used to be. I didn’t mind TNF in years prior when the games didn’t start up until Week 10; that was like finding money in your pocket. Instead, they hit us with Thursday games right out of the gate, which I believe diluted the overall viewing experience.

I love the NFL as much as the next person, but in regards to Thursday Night Football, there can be too much of a good thing. Get rid of it.

    • alldavallday
    • December 14th, 2012

    I think (and possibly remember hearing) part of the reason they expanded TNF to full season is because they’re hoping to sell the package to a major network. Obviously, ESPN, FOX, or NBC would never take the package with the type of games that were on this year, so you have to assume the games would get better. That still wouldn’t solve the issue of too much of a good thing, but you have to think that if we can’t hold ourselves back from watching the games, at least they’ll be decent quality.

  1. The problem with expanding to a full season of Thursday games is that they had to include many more teams to fill the slots. No teams repeated (and they shouldn’t have to). They had to have known that they’d unavoidably be showing a good number of bottom-feeders throughout the season. But again, it goes back to the NFL not giving a crap.

      • alldavallday
      • December 14th, 2012

      That’s all true. I can’t imagine the NFLPA will ever agree to allow teams to play two TNF games in the same season, so I’m not sure there’s a real solution to this. Then again, ESPN’s MNF schedule has also been awful this year (although not on the same level as TNF) and they still get great ratings, so who knows what the criteria is.

    • will
    • December 14th, 2012

    The NFL used TNF football to give every team at least one primetime game this season. Teams who arent good or in a bad market and therefore don’t draw ratings are the main recipients of TNF. No of course they might match them up with a rival or good team to try and get some interest in the games. So yeah. That has something to do with the performances as well. Not to mention every thing you stated above

      • alldavallday
      • December 14th, 2012

      I don’t think would give everyone a TNF game if they had a choice. I think it’s more a product of having 32 slots to fill, and they really can’t give a team two of those games.

    • Eli
    • December 16th, 2012

    Less TNF games and more blog posts like this one.

    • Jason
    • February 4th, 2013

    Couldn’t agree more. I too am addicted to the NFL, mainly due to Fantasy Football, the reason I watched most of the TNF games. Bad quality games, just to make a buck. Doesn’t the NFL make enough already as it is? go back to the Thanksgiving day ones, and a few here and there at the end of the season.

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