The NFL schedule is here. And for all those hard-core football honks main-lining this stuff and turning it into a national holiday, it’s just another reminder that the NFL is king.
Because bye week breakdowns and primetime appearances are being treated like some new Star Wars trailer release. And match-ups that have been set in stone since January are getting all sorts of run — Rog’s return to Foxboro for the season opener against the Chiefs, the Super Bowl rematch in Week 7, Seattle at Green Bay in week 1, or Broncos-Raiders Thanksgiving weekend.
But this roll out is about more than just bye weeks and another made-up event that makes sure the NFL dominates the calendar 12 months a year. Because after last year’s ratings slide, the league needed to reboot. After giving us a slate of garbage Thursday night games and mediocre Monday Night matchups — the Shield isn’t messing around. Because after experimenting with the idea that we’ll watch WHATEVER football they choose to give us, the league is going back to the drawing board and playing the hits.
The Browns out of primetime. Same with the Jags. The annual Thursday night Titans-Jags Color Rush Classic that riveted DOZENS of fans outside Jacksonville and Tennessee. Ten teams have the maximum number of prime-time games possible — and that’s BEFORE late season flex scheduling, the league doing everything to put their best teams and games into the best and highest rated time slots.
And it makes sense. Because after doing everything they could to explain away last season’s ratings slide, there’s no taking any chances. Once is a fluke — blame it on the election, blame it on Kaepernick, blame it on sports fans unplugging, watching things on the web, on mobile, on the red zone channel, on any number of different platforms that the league is all over. But take no chances.
Because once is a fluke. Twice is a trend. And after Mark Cuban’s prediction of “pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered” hit awfully close to home as the league hit the point of over-saturation — the NFL is doing what it should do — giving us what we want, when we want it.