We decided to let The Champ do a guest column for Joboo. Post in the comments if you’d like to see The Champ contribute more to Joboo. Don’t ask how you can become a guest columnist here. It is a rigorous process of living with one of the blog authors and coming up with ideas…and then not writing the column for several days.
After a 35 year-run on ABC, Monday Night Football moves to ESPN this season. On the surface of things, many might write this off as not being that big of a deal. However, with NBC picking up the Sunday Night games that ESPN used to carry, I ask whether or not it is possible that Sunday Night Football surpasses MNF in popularity.
Added to the new competition of the John Madden-led NBC crew, we also have the fact that ABC reportedly had been losing about $150 million a year on Monday nights in the past eight years.
I keep hearing more and more buzz that Sunday Nights will be the “new MNF” and that MNF will slowly but surely fade away. At first I dismissed all of this talk and was of the opinion that MNF will always have a special place in the football fan’s heart.
I think this situation deserves a detailed examination so we can better evaluate the status of both SNF, and MNF, and make some kind of a determination as to which program is in better shape. What better way to do that then to look into a week-by-week comparison and see which network has the matchup edge.
Looking at the first week, NBC decided to get tricky and have both a Thursday Night game, and a Sunday Night Game. ESPN countered with a week One double-header hosting games at 7:00 p.m., and 10:15 p.m., and also switched to a new 8:40 p.m. kickoff instead of the traditional 9:00 p.m. for the remainder of its games. For the purposes of my evaluation, I will pit NBC’s Thursday Night game against game 1 of ESPN’s doubleheader, and their first Sunday Night game against game 2 of the doubleheader.
Without further ado,
Week 1 (a) SNF = Miami at Pittsburgh
MNF = Minnesota at Washington
Comments: I think it’s a pretty solid no-brainer here that Sunday Night Football wins out. I mean the Vikings and Redskins? ESPN couldn’t do any better than that for its debut? They certainly are not off to a good start here. NBC gets the defending champs and the newly-energized Daunte Culpepper-led Dolphins, whom Sports Illustrated predicted would make this Super Bowl this year. Chalk up one point for Sunday Night.
Week 1 (b) SNF = Colts at Giants
MNF = San Diego at Oakland
Comments: Okay, maybe it’s not as bad of an effort on behalf of ESPN as game 1 of the debut double-header was, but it’s not that much better. The Colts v. Giants matchup clearly wins out here once again. We get to see Peyton v. Eli duke it out. Even if you are not on the Manning-brother bandwagon, a Colts v. Giants game is still an unarguably better football matchup than is Charges v. Raiders. SNF: 2, MNF: 0.
Week 2 SNF= Washington at Dallas
MNF= Pittsburgh at Jacksonville
Comments: Okay, Okay, Monday Night might be trying here. They have their turn with the Defending Champs now, but Jacksonville isn’t as great a matchup as NBC already presented with the Miami game. And, they are going up against a MONSTER. TO’s debut in the Redskin-Cowboy rivalry. Its tough to beat Washington v. Dallas, especially with TO in the mix. SNF: 3, MNF:0.
Week 3 SNF= Denver at New England
MNF= Atlanta at New Orleans
Comments: Seriously, is MNF’s matchup this week even worthy of a comment? No. And Denver v. New England is well, The Broncos and Patriots! This one is too easy. SNF: 4, MNF: 0.
Week 4 SNF= Seattle at Chicago
MNF= Green Bay at Philadelphia
Comments: This might be the closest one yet. I like both of these matchups. Sunday Night gives us the NFC Champion Seahawks against one of the all-time best Defensive teams, the Chicago Bears. Monday Night gives us the always fun Green Bay v. Phily matchup. While GB v. Eagles has its history, I still think the other NFC battle wins out. SNF: 5, MNF: 0.
Week 5 SNF= Pittsburgh at San Diego
MNF= Baltimore at Denver
Comments: Another close battle. Baltimore and Denver are both going to be tough and probably end up in the thick of the playoff hunt this year. Pittsburgh will already be making its third primetime appearance within the first 5 weeks of the season, and this clearly is too much. While I like the SNF matchup, Pittsburgh is being over-used at this point. MNF gets its first point. SNF: 5, MNF: 1.
Week 6 SNF= Oakland at Denver
MNF= Chicago at Arizona
Comments: Another week where we see some teams being over-used. There really is no reason Oakland, Denver, and Chicago should all be seeing multiple primetime games this early into the season. That being said, I think Arizona is worthy of the call. They are going to be exciting to watch with Warner launching it up to Larry Fitz, and Anquan Boldin. Adding the Edge to the mix only makes things even better. Maybe MNF is starting a comeback here? SNF: 5, MNF: 2.
Week 7: SNF= NO GAME
MNF= Giants at Cowboys
Comments: I guess the Comeback continues. NBC must have been afraid of that TO media circus and just decided to give this week to Monday Night. Either that or they are planning some sort of promo with another season of Apprentice. Either way, they can’t get a point here if they have no game. SNF: 5, MNF: 3.
Week 8: SNF= Dallas at Carolina
MNF= New England at Minnesota
Comments: How generous it was for NBC to let things get close. They won’t let our score get any closer though, because the Dallas v. Carolina matchup steels the show here. Sure, maybe Dallas has had too many primetime games. But I mean, TO! Is it possible for them to have too many primetime games? And Minnesota is from the NFC North which pretty much disqualifies them from being on primetime since they aren’t from Chicago. SNF: 6, MNF: 3.
Week 9: SNF: Colts at Patriots
MNF: Oakland at Seattle
Comments: For the love of God, why is Oakland getting another primetime game? This is starting to get ridiculous. And I think Colts v. Pats says it all. SNF: 7, MNF: 3.
Week 10: Okay, here is where things get a little bit unfair. NBC was able to work out this deal where they have “flexible scheduling” and get to fill in “TBD” for the rest of their lineup. ESPN was not able to do this and had to schedule in the rest of their games. This allows NBC to pick matchups as the season progresses so they don’t have to rely on the crystal ball to figure out who will be in the playoff hunt at the end. Who knows, maybe the Lions will earn one of these spots! Probably not, but it would be fun. NBC will obviously end up with better matchups from Week 10 on because they get to pick from the crop as the season progresses.
So, what we have is a scenario where the better games will be on Sunday Night, but the tradition of Monday Night Football surely will live on at ESPN. Or will it? I think its safe to say MNF will survive in the immediate future, but that its long-term prognosis is certainly not good. Enjoy this year’s MNF games (at least in those weeks where they have a good matchup) because they might not be around much longer.