You might recall — or you may have already forgotten — that 2014 was the year of the primetime blowout in the NFL.

Only 17 of 51 primetime last year games were decided by one score, whereas 21 were decided by three scores or more.

And Thursday Night Football was hit particularly hard. The average margin of victory on Thursdays was 16.6, and only five of the 16 Thursday nighters were decided by a touchdown or less, while seven were decided by three scores or more.


Thursday night games felt particularly bad for two reasons. First, the quality of play is arguably shoddier when teams are working on short rest. And second, TNF draws a lot of poor matchups to begin with, at least compared to SNF and MNF. With a mandate to show every team at least once over the course of the season, we get a lot of weak teams on Thursdays, but the NFL attempts to compensate for that with a heavy dose of divisional matchups that are in theory supposed to be closely contested.

That didn’t hold up in 2014, but things have changed in 2015.

Each of the last four Thursday night games have been decided by six points or fewer, and eight of the 13 TNF games this season have been decided by one score (as opposed to just a trio of three-score games).

In each of those four recent matchups, teams have had the ball with chances to win the game with fewer than 30 seconds left in the fourth quarter. The Bills, Jaguars and Bears held on for dear life against the Jets, Titans and Packers, respectively, but the Lions weren’t so lucky last Thursday against Green Bay.

You’ll notice that all four of those matchups were between division rivals, which of course creates extra drama. And it might explain why ratings for TNF are up at both CBS and NFLN.

But that swing is actually in line with what’s been happening league-wide. In fact, Sunday and Monday night games have been even closer, as have non-primetime games.


Thursday night matchups haven’t always been good and broadly this has actually been the sloppiest NFL season yours truly has experienced, but drama is drama. Titans-Jaguars, Bills-Jets, Ravens-Browns, Bears-Chargers and Cowboys-Redskins (at least this year) aren’t marquee matchups, but nowadays there’s a good chance any game will go down to the wire, as each of those did. And nobody wants to miss out on that.

Tonight’s Vikings-Cardinals tilt actually has a lot of playoff implications, but next week’s Thursday night matchup between the Buccaneers and Rams and the Week 16 Thursday night finale between the Raiders and Chargers might not.

Regardless, I’m willing to bet most of us will tune in anyway.

About Brad Gagnon

Brad Gagnon has been passionate about both sports and mass media since he was in diapers -- a passion that won't die until he's in them again. Based in Toronto, he's worked as a national NFL blog editor at, a producer and writer at theScore Television Network and a host, reporter and play-by-play voice at Rogers TV. His work has also appeared at, Deadspin,, The Guardian, The Hockey News and elsewhere at Comeback Media, but his day gig has him covering the NFL nationally for Bleacher Report.

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