NFL Playoffs Look To Be Most Watched Yet


From Columnist Chris Bach

In the business of every sport, TV ratings play a large part. In the NBA, they will be celebrating the star-laden scenarios for the playoffs from the top seeds with Miami’s Big 3, the physical Boston team, Dirk, Tim, ‘Melo, Durant, Derrick, Derron and maybe even low seed appearances by Blake Griffin and John Wall. In the NHL, they’ve benefited from Stanley Cup victories for two of their most outspoken fanbases and are now putting the fresh Penguins vs. Capitals rivalry on full display with a reality show and a Winter Classic. For baseball, they just point to their ticket sales.

The NFL has had record TV ratings this year and I think it has a lot to do with the Eagles and Vikings, who play each other this week. People tune into watch the Michael Vick Experience (now more for throwing than for running), and they can’t turn away from the sad, theatrical demise of Brett Favre.

Here’s a look at some games that could hit record numbers for football:

Postseason Ratings Bonanzas
Kansas City @ New England

Tom Brady vs. Matt Cassel is just the tip of the iceberg as Haley has worked under Belichick and Pioli, Vrabel, Weis, and Crennel all earned rings in New England. Also, the Chiefs have the weapons to attack the Pats defense. I would pick KC.

Philadelphia @ Atlanta

It seems like perfect drama that the teams met earlier this year but it was without Michael Vick. The home crowd would definitely be a little torn and – especially if Green Bay doesn’t get in – this is the clash of the two top teams in the NFC.

Super Bowl Ratings Bonanzas
Baltimore vs. Atlanta

The first game ended in controversy with Roddy White – after pushing off on an earlier first down catch – shoving down Josh Wilson for the game-deciding TD. The storylines would include Mike Smith coaching against his old team, the 2008 rookie QBs facing off, Ray Lewis trying to get his first ring in 10 years and Tony Gonzalez finally getting to the Big Game.

Pittsburgh vs. Chicago

Two of the oldest franchises with the biggest fanbase going up against the third or fourth biggest fanbase. Two strong defenses with two exciting quarterbacks until the Steelers knock Cutler out for the game.

San Diego vs. Chicago

The drama for this one would be pretty big. Ron Rivera coaching against his old team, Martz and Rivera potentially coaching for head coaching jobs next season, Cutler and Rivers’ rivalry picks back up, and one of the two embattled head coaches guaranteed to return next year. I had thought about San Diego vs. New York or New Orleans given the Brees/Rivers/Manning saga but I think the players and organizations are more happy with where they are now than they are bitter about what happened.

New England vs. Philadelphia
Of all the potential Super Bowl rematches (San Diego vs. San Francisco, Indianapolis vs. Chicago, New England vs. St. Louis; Pittsburgh vs. Seattle, Oakland vs. Tampa Bay, Tennessee vs. St. Louis, New England vs. Green Bay, New England vs. New York, and you could do a lot worse than Indianapolis vs. New Orleans), I know Roger Goodell and FOX will be pulling for this one. PETA boycotts will not diminish the redemption story of Vick in the Super Bowl. Additionally, the Patriots are one of the most divisive teams in all of sports and people will want to see the duel of the two MVP candidates – Brady vs. Vick.

We’d like to avoid these:
Jacksonville vs. Seattle
With Seattle losing 8 games by 15 or more points and Jacksonville losing to Denver and getting blown out by Tennessee, you would think it would take huge injuries to the top teams for the Hawks and Jaguars to make it.

Oakland vs. San Francisco
Once was enough for this match-up in 2010. I think the 49ers would be the first team in NFL history to go 7-9, fire their offensive coordinator, get shut out at home and bench their quarterback and his replacement to make it to a Super Bowl. All this with Joe Buck and Troy Aikman.

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