Watching yesterday’s ESPN Monday Night Football made me realize that watching one slightly above average team (Chargers) against a very mediocre team (Jets, who would probably be much different with a healthy Aaron Rodgers) gets stale after over two hours of missed and dropped passes.
What happens to MNF ratings when an outright horrible football team is slotted for late-season primetime?
The last time I made a sports prediction, I picked the winner of the 2023 Masters. Here is another attempt – the NFL Week 12 Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings game will be booted soon from Monday primetime.
The Bears will be on Thursday primetime this week against the Carolina Panthers. That game may have a hint of national interest since Chicago traded away their 2023 overall #1 draft pick to Carolina so the Panthers could select Bryce Young. The Bears will be playing against the quarterback they effectively past up (to stick with Justin Fields).
NFL primetime games, especially towards the latter end of the season, should be exciting and ideally with postseason implications. The 2-7 Bears will definitely not be playing past the first week of January. And though the Vikings are a game behind the Detroit Lions in the weak NFC North, there will be little interest nationally for this game, especially on the coasts.
Though most Week 12 games are regional, division matches, there are several that would be far more entertaining to watch on the Monday night of November 27th. Here are my top three picks, in order, for that Monday Night Football primetime slot:
#2 Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans
The Texans are currently two games behind Jaguars, so this is the least of my pick 3 list, especially if Jacksonville starts to pull away in the AFC South over the next few weeks. The Jaguars only have three scheduled primetime games and the Texans two, so both can certainly be bumped back into the evening one more time.
#3 New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons
This game will have potential NFC South race implications, with Atlanta currently a game behind the first place Saints. Like Jacksonville, New Orleans has three primetime games this year, whereas some teams have four, five, and six scheduled. Atlanta has none. This would be a good national audience shakeup with teams that have not been in the primetime spotlight lately.
#1 Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals
This would be the ideal Week 12 Monday Night Football matchup. Though both teams are currently two games behind the AFC North’s Baltimore Ravens, each team in that division is still in the hunt. The Steelers are always a national audience draw. A healthy Joe Burrow means Cincinnati should make things interesting down the stretch. Plus, Burrow is one of the few premiere quarterbacks that will always draw national viewership. The only downside I see is that both teams already will have had four scheduled primetime games.
Thank you for reading my article. Donec deinde tempum.