One of the main objections that sports fans have to the NBA is its lack of parity. Not that they’re upset over the same teams winning all the time, but upset because of the disparity between the teams.
The storyline in last year’s NBA regular and postseason (bar the Warriors rise and fall) was the non-competiveness of the games. The aforementioned disparity was so great that most games were decided by 10+ points, even 20+ points a lot of time.
And that was something that the NFL could always hang over the NBA’s head. Not anymore.
A historically non-competitive postseason succeeded a regular season where the NFL’s ratings saw record lows despite the revival of the Cowboys.
There were a variety of political factors that played a part in the dip in ratings, but I’m not going to get into those. I’m going to focus on the on-field product.
This may have been the year that oversaturation finally came back to bite the league. When you have a good thing and you get greedy, it always comes back to bite you. And when the NFL expanded the Thursday Night games from 8 to 15 in the NFL, they made strides towards greed.
Not that it’s necessarily a bad thing in itself as it relates to short term profits. But fans and players alike have voiced their displeasures at TNF. The players feel that only 3 full days of recovery isn’t enough, and are therefore falling short of the entertainment potential that comes with a full 6 days rest.
And the fans have grown weary of the weak Thursday matchups. With there being a lot more mediocre teams than there were in previous seasons, it’s becoming difficult to find weekly, star-studded matchups to fill the Thursday Night slot, Sunday 4:15 slot, Sunday Night slot, and Monday Night slot without getting repetitive. Throw in the once-a-year Saturday Night game, and the quality of product has been in a tailspin as Goodell attempts to milk profits.
This negative trend reared it’s even uglier head in the postseason, where 2/10 games were relatively close, and only one can be labeled as a truly exciting game. And these weren’t fluke blowouts. The teams were really that lopsided.
The closest game on the Wild Card weekend was a one-sided 13 points, and it was in what may have been the worst quarterbacked postseason game since the turn of the century between Connor Cook and Brock Osweiler. The other games were decided by 20, 18, and 28 points, respectively. The much better team won by an unsurprising margin in each.
The story was slightly different in the Divisional Round, though, which featured the only two close games of the postseason. The Steelers edged the Chiefs by 2 without scoring a touchdown, and in the only truly thrilling postseason game, the Packers knocked out the Cowboys by 3 on a last second field goal. The other two games were decided by 16 and 18 points.
But the worst was yet to come in the Conference Championship. The Falcons stomped the Packers by 23, and the Patriots thrashed the Steelers by 19. And it wasn’t because either of the losing teams forgot to show up. Atlanta and New England were genuinely that much better than their counterparts.
So we’ve reached the point where it doesn’t matter if the Super Bowl is a game for the ages. The NFL has a problem, and it must be addressed.