College Football Is Lapping The NFL In Entertainment Value – OutKick

I am not an absolute master of college football or the NFL. I enjoy watching football in all forms and I don’t discriminate between college and pro. I’ve never understood football fans who will only watch one and not the other.

Both brands of football can coexist and have done so for many years. In fact, they are the two top-rated sports in America. In fact, NFL ratings are at their highest levels since 2016 and don’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon. But good ratings don’t always equate to a good on-field product, and the NFL has a follow-up problem in 2022.

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Look no further than Weeks 5 and 6 of Thursday Night Football for proof. In Week 5, the Colts and Broncos squared off in a contest that tested the visual stamina of even the most ardent NFL supporter. The teams combined for 12 sacks, four interceptions, a missed field goal, a turnover on downs and 21 total points. The two teams couldn’t even do us the courtesy of ending the offensive travesty in regulation. The Colts won 12-9 in OT, but no one watching the game felt victorious. Even noted NFL die-hard Rob Lowe had to be disgusted.

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In Week 6, the Commanders and Bears lowered the NFL primetime bar with another abysmal game. Carson Wentz and Justin Fields must have watched Russell Wilson and Matt Ryan walk around the court last Thursday and said “hold my beer.” Wentz failed to pass for over 100 yards and his team won the game. Bears QB Justin Fields was 14 for 27 for 190 yards with a TD and an INT in the Bears loss. The truth is, anyone who watched any of these Thursday Night Football games was missing out. Keep in mind that Amazon pays about $1 billion a year for the rights to the Thursday night NFL package.

Let’s look at the NFL numbers

Thursday Night Football isn’t the only primetime window to see a drop in quality. According to Sports Media Watch, the Top 10 most-watched NFL games through the first six weeks of the season are as follows.

  1. Dallas/Cincinnati – 9/18 – CBS Late Afternoon
  1. Green Bay/Tampa Bay – 9/25 – FOX Late Afternoon
  1. Buffalo/Kansas City – 10/16 – CBS Late Afternoon
  1. New England/Green Bay – 10/2 – CBS Late Afternoon
  1. Dallas/LAR – 10/9 – FOX Late Afternoon
  1. Tampa Bay/Dallas – 9/11 – NBC Sunday Night Football
  1. Kansas City/Tampa Bay – 10/2 – NBC Sunday Night Football
  1. Dallas/Philadelphia – 10/16 – NBC Sunday Night Football
  1. Buffalo/LAR – 9/8 – NBC NFL Kick-Off
  1. Denver/Seattle – 9/12 – ABC/ESPN/ESPN2 Monday Night Football

The average final score of these 10 games is 24-16. Not quite the offensive explosion we’ve come to expect from the NFL. In a league that constantly tweaks the rules to benefit QBs and scoring, the League has a QB/scoring problem. When you take games involving the Bills or Chiefs out of the Top 10, the average final score drops to 20-14. I use the Bills and Chiefs because they have emerged as the two most dominant teams in the AFC and have no problems scoring or at the QB position. Philly seems to be the tight end in the NFC. Their offense is the click through rate.

One caveat to these games is the Dallas conundrum. The Cowboys will always draw a lot of eyeballs and post big scoring numbers. They were also forced to start Cooper Rush at QB for 5 straight games after Dak Prescott was sidelined with a hand injury in Week 1 against Tampa Bay. Dallas appears in the Top 10 four times and Rush played in all four games. Do the Cowboys score more points with Prescott playing QB? Probably. Does it change the fact that these games are mostly boring? Not really.

I’m not saying all lower rated games are boring games. Two teams with great defenses can face each other and play an exciting, low-scoring, hard-fought game. But that’s not the case with most of these NFL games in prime national windows. This is much more about a lack of offense than an abundance of defense.

The college game has no problems with offense. Look no further than the No. 1 team in the College Football Playoff’s first seed: Tennessee. The Vols are averaging nearly 50 points and 553 yards per game while coming out of nowhere in season history. Tennessee wasn’t even ranked in the Preseason AP Top 25. Combine that with Ohio State, Georgia, Alabama and other national championship contenders putting up points a bunch and you have a drastically different game being played in college.

But it’s not all points and attack. Let’s take a look at the highest-rated college games of the season so far, according to Sports Media Watch.

  1. Bama/Tennessee – 10/15 – CBS
  1. Bama/Texas – 9/10 – FOX
  1. Notre Dame/Ohio State – 9/3 – ABC
  1. Ohio State/Penn State – 10/29 – FOX
  1. FSU/LSU – 10/4 – ABC
  1. Texas A&M/Bama – 10/8 – CBS
  1. Penn State/Michigan – 10/15 – FOX
  1. Oregon/Georgia – 9/3 – ABC
  1. Bama/Arkansas – 10/1 – CBS
  1. Florida/Tennessee – 9/24 – CBS

The average final score of those 10 games is 36-23. So, while the games haven’t all been particularly close, we’ve seen quite a bit more offense. College football is fueled by the most-watched game of the year (Tennessee-Bama) which is possibly one of the best regular season games of our lifetime. Granted, I’m biased because I was at Neyland Stadium for the game, but you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who would tell you that the heavyweight 52-49 slugfest wasn’t the best football game (NFL or college) they’ve seen this season.

November and December are peak months for the NFL as college football takes the field. There’s still time to turn it around, but so far it’s a failure. College football in 2022 is much more exciting and distinct than the professional game.

Let me know if you agree or disagree by emailing me at [email protected] Based on your responses, I may be compelled to write a follow-up column with your best arguments for or against either the NFL or college football.


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