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NFL ratings, Week 9: Blowouts, bad matchups blunt ratings gains

Jay Busbee
·2-min read

In the first post-election Sunday, the NFL might want a recount.

Ratings continue to be below historical averages, though a blowout Sunday night and a wretched matchup Monday night didn’t help matters.

Let’s dig into the numbers:

Thursday Night Football (Fox/NFL Network): Green Bay thrashed San Francisco, and a much-hyped rivalry game fizzled. The game drew 13.17 million viewers, a 6 percent drop-off from last year’s San Francisco-Arizona game.

CBS doubleheader: CBS saw a decline in the first half of its Sunday doubleheader, but a rebound in the second. In the early game, which was largely Baltimore-Indianapolis, 10.23 million viewers tuned in, a drop-off of 11 percent from last year.

The afternoon’s marquee matchup — in name, if not in talent — was Pittsburgh-Dallas, and that drew 22.71 million viewers, up 2 percent from 2019. Big names and big teams continue to draw big ratings.

Fox singleheader: The regional telecast, in which most viewers saw either Carolina-Kansas City or Raiders-Chargers, didn’t resonate with viewers. Totals were 15.74 million viewers, down 14 percent from 2019.

Sunday Night Football (NBC): What seemed like a gem of a matchup, a New Orleans-Tampa Bay rematch of one of the highest-rated games of the season, turned into a chance for much of America to catch up on sleep when New Orleans went up 31-0 in the first half. The broadcast recorded 16.88 million viewers, a 23 percent decline from 2019’s marquee Ravens-Patriots (with Tom Brady) game. SNF continues to be a ratings struggle; nine of the 10 games this season are down from 2019, with five of the past six down by double digits, according to Sports Media Watch.

Monday Night Football (ESPN): We knew this was a dog of a game going in, and the Patriots and Jets proved us right, drawing 9.83 million viewers. That marked a 30 percent drop from 2019’s Cowboys-Giants matchup ... back when the NFC East was merely bad, not terrible. Per Sports Media Watch, this was ESPN’s lowest-rated Week 9 game since Browns-Ravens in 2004.

Starting now, we’ll see how strong the NFL is relative to prior years. With the presidential election (mostly) in the rear-view mirror, more Americans staying home as the weather cools, and time-displaced sports either done or not yet starting, the NFL has the stage to itself. Let’s see how many people show up in Week 10.

In case you missed it, and you probably did, here's Drew Brees consoling Tom Brady Sunday night. (Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
In case you missed it, and you probably did, here's Drew Brees consoling Tom Brady Sunday night. (Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)


Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter at @jaybusbee or contact him with tips and story ideas at

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