What you didn’t see is consistency in how the numbers sunk across the board, something the owners showed concern over inside those meetings rooms. Consider these:
Through six weeks, the NFL’s ratings were down in 22 of 36 windows.
Various players have stepped up to fill those voids. Brandin Cooks, traded by the Saints at the cost of a first-round draft pick, had his third straight 1,000-yard receiving season. Danny Amendola tied a career high with eight starts thanks to a healthier-than-normal season. And, of course, Gronkowski was there to roast AFC rivals and achieve a personal dream with 69 receptions for the year.
One major player from the 2017 playoffs won’t join the Patriot huddle this weekend. Edelman’s ACL injury has robbed the Pats of last year’s leading receiver throughout their entire 13-3 run this season.
Edelman finished that year with 1,106 receiving yards, but his biggest contributions came after the regular season. In three playoff games, the veteran wideout had 21 receptions for 342 yards — including what may go down as the greatest catch in the history of the Super Bowl.
His absence will be missed, but the Pats will be buttressed at wide receiver with Amendola — whose Super Bowl per-game yardage (63.0) is significantly higher than his regular season average (37.0) — playoff debutante Cooks, and a back-from-injury Hogan. More importantly, Brady will have a mismatch machine at his disposal at tight end.
The NFL’s average household rating is currently 25.1, down from 26.9 over the same period last year, and the 28.1-28.7 range where it sat from 2013-15.
Twenty-five of 31 teams (excluding the Chargers, because of the move) are drawing lower local numbers than they did in 2016. Nineteen have dropped 5 percent or more, including brand name teams like the Cowboys (7% drop), Patriots (8%) and Steelers (6%), and both New York clubs (the Giants are down 7%, the Jets are down 37%). Conversely, only three teams (Chiefs, Bucs, Lions) have improved by more than 5 percent.
Digital streaming numbers are improving, but not at the rate that TV numbers are falling. ESPN counts the stream crowd as 3 percent of its viewership of Monday Night Football, which is the best of all the game-carrying networks.
Before the end of the 2017 season, Browns fans planned to hold a “perfect season” parade if the team finished 0-16. And welp, Cleveland did just that last Sunday, joining the 2008 Lions as the only two teams to finish 0-16 in NFL history.