The first season of Prime Video’s exclusive presentation of the NFL’s Thursday Night Football package has gone about as expected. It’s not setting a new standard for coverage, but it’s not out of place in the NFL broadcast landscape.
Play by play broadcaster Al Michaels talked with the Boston Globe about this season of TNF and this week’s Bills-Patriots matchup, and the game schedule appears to be Michaels’ biggest gripe.
Michaels called the season’s schedule “a little leaky,” specifically referring to the Week 10 matchup between the 4-5 Falcons and 3-6 Panthers.
Michaels acknowledged some frustration at points about the Thursday schedule. The league does not want teams playing on a Sunday and then the following Thursday more than once in a season, so that limits the ability to load the schedule with high-profile teams or flex out of an unappealing game.
“The schedule was a little leaky with the Carolina-Atlanta game and a couple of other games that we’ve had, but now we’re positioned for a nice run down the stretch,” said Michaels.
No schedule is flawless. Just this past week, ESPN’s Monday Night Football had a matchup between the 3-7 Steelers and the 4-6-1 Colts. Over the years, TNF has regularly gotten the shaft when it comes to scheduling (a sharp context from Sunday Night Football, the package Michaels used to call), and this year doesn’t seem that far out of the norm. Matchups in Week 5 (Colts-Broncos) and Week (Saints-Cardinals) weren’t great at the time, and have only looked worse with hindsight. Additionally, next week’s Raiders-Rams game looked pretty good coming into the year, and is now a matchup between two teams far out of the playoff picture.
Additionally, Michaels talked about the lack of prep time heading into Thursday games.
“When we go to see the teams, it’s not that they don’t want to be with us, but they’re condensed too, so there’s less time to give to us,” he said. “And all the time I’ve been doing this, I’ve built some great relationships with coaches and players and GMs and owners and you name it, and I don’t get that much time to spend with them anymore. That’s a downside part of it for me. Some of the best stories you get come from those relationships.”
That’s a valid point, and it’ll remain an issue as long as Thursday night games exist.