With the AFC and NFC Championship games coming up later today, the big question for NFL leadership is going to be the ratings. Ratings have been down this season and there has been speculation that NFL might have peaked. The New York Post wrote a great article asking that very question. By far the most interesting article that I have read on the issue was written this time last year via Business Insider. In it, it talks about how two analysts who work for Pacific Crest Investment Bank talk about how the major networks are at the highest risk (especially the ones that play NFL games). They throw in the fact that the NFL is currently involved in several issues that could have major impacts on it’s future.
This weekend is extremely important to the NFL as it will once and for all put the debate to rest. While the Cowboys (who probably draw the largest audience) have been knocked out, there are still four teams in the playoffs left that have a large reach. The New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers, Green Bay Packers, and Atlanta Falcons all have large numbers of fans who travel. The recent drop in ticket prices can be attributed to Cowboys fans who had hope they could see their team win a Super Bowl in the state of Texas. The games we have this weekend could mean more to the NFL than basically any Championship Weekend in NFL history.
3:05PM ET – Green Bay Packers @ Atlanta Falcons – FOX
This game will end up being a battle of the defenses because with these two Quarterbacks you really can never stop them the entire game. Green Bay will more than likely need to get their running game going to control some of the time of possession. The Atlanta Falcons have a complete set of mismatches on offense so as long as they keep at it there really should be no issue against this Packer secondary. They met earlier in the season and the Falcons won the game 33-32.
6:40PM ET – Pittsburgh Steelers @ New England Patriots – CBS
The biggest question in this game is the Steelers defense vs. Tom Brady. Le’Veon Bell is going to get his. The Steelers will be able to control most of the clock, but their defense is going to have to stop Tom Brady on at least 2-3 drives in order to stay even with the Patriots. They met earlier in the season and the Patriots won 27-16 in what ended up being somewhat of a blow out.