Tonight, CBS and NFL Network will air their fourth Thursday night simulcast of the year when the Minnesota Vikings visit the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. When Green Bay hosted the Vikings last year, the game ended in a 26-26 tie.
Ties aren’t appealing, but it’s fair to say CBS — which reportedly paid $275 million for the right to broadcast these Thursday nighters — would gladly take a 52-point tie over yet another lopsided affair.
For whatever reason, the average margin of victory on Thursday night this year has been 28.3 PPG. That’s an insane number, especially when you consider that the average margin of victory every other day of the week has been 12.5.
Seattle and Baltimore beat Green Bay and Pittsburgh, respectively, by 20 points each, Atlanta crushed the Buccaneers by 42 and the Giants beat Washington by 31.
Earlier this decade, when Thursday night games were a mere experiment, trends indicated that home teams would have major edges on such short rest. So it’s interesting that three of the four winning teams this year were at home. In two of those cases, very solid teams — Pittsburgh and Green Bay — were blown out on the road.
Dating to the start of last year, home teams are 13-8 on Thursdays. That’s .619 winning percentage. During the same span, non-Thursday games have been won by home teams at a .595 clip. Only a four percent increase, but still statistically relevant.
We’re only dealing with a four-game sample size for that margin-of-victory stat, too. When we broaden that to include last season, the average margin of victory for Thursday games is 13.8, versus 11.5 for the rest of the week. Meanwhile, 24 percent of Thursday games have been decided by five or fewer points. The rest of the week, that number’s at 34 percent.
So it does seem as though there’s a better chance the home team is going to win in blowout fashion when it’s a Thursday night. Considering that Green Bay is already a much better team than Minnesota, that doesn’t bode well for CBS or NFLN tonight.