Friday, September 26, 2014

What about a Thursday Night game in London...

26-6. 56-14. 45-14. Those are the scores of the last 3 Thursday Night games. Sadly, despite the putrid quality of the games, they'll always outrate everything else on TV that night, even when the baseball playoffs really get into the swing of things. At the risk of the quality of the games, the NFL will stop at nothing to make more money. And this brings us onto the elephant in the room... London.

There will also be 3 games at Wembley Stadium this season, the first of which comes on Sunday. Miami/Oakland, Detroit/Atlanta (going up against Premier League games for the record), and Dallas/Jacksonville are not games that really jump out at you, but the London games never will considering the teams that are willing to voluntarily give up home games. But now, again at the detriment of the quality of the games and the league, the NFL will stop at nothing to increase profits, which means these games are now viability tests to see if London can actually house a full time franchise. Spoiler: it can't.

The expansion of Thursday Night games as well as the expansion of London games are linked together, and are evidence of the same problem. At what point does quality of game finally suppress desire for a few extra pocket stuffers? So long as we watch, that line is at a point where none of us can see it.

With teams playing on short weeks, inevitably the quality of game will suffer. The NFL has noticed this, and in an (feeble) attempt to curtail the quality drop-off, they've only scheduled divisional games on Thursday nights (sans 1 and possibly one other). As has already been obvious, this has done nothing to prevent the inevitable from happening. Yet, we all still watch. October is going to be a fascinating month to watch the evolution of this, as the TNF college football games and more sports begin to vie for your eyeballs, especially baseball.

Wembley has always drawn very good crowds for the London games, despite the fact that they have mainly been duds, and the quality of team is mainly terrible. They've also done well with only 1 or 2 marquee "events" a season, but now with 3, and especially now that they've time shifted a game specifically tailored to the UK audience, it will be fascinating to see how they react. The MIA/OAK game and the DAL/JAX game almost seem meaningless compared to the DET/ATL contest, which will go on at 9:30 AM on the east coast, competing directly with Premier League games on both sides of the pond, and forcing everyone to wake up early to watch their games. Now, while most do this anyway to tailgate, it's different when the game is a glorified road game. The NFL is banking on the soccer crowd to influence the football one, and that's a risky lot to cast.

The decreasing quality, and novelty, of both the TNF and London games are casting a negative eye on the league's increasingly shameless attempt to squeeze every single last penny out of both you the consumer and the advertisers, and at some point that will hit a dramatic brick wall. While this month's fiascos have already damaged the league in their pocketbook, it was never going to put a huge enough dent on the profit reports to cause legitimate change, even if the fear of it has. The outcry from players on Thursday Night games may also do little to change the mood. But London...

That's where the line will be drawn, because under no circumstances is a London NFL franchise viable. That may be finally what cuts the NFL off at the roots. But it doesn't seem that they're going to realize it.

So as we all sat down and marveled at the putrid quality in DC, and will do the same by cracking jokes about the London game, the wheels will begin to turn when it comes to these novelty games and the lack thereof now.

Eventually in the future, we may have a Thursday Night game in London! OK, I don't think the NFL is that stupid.

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