Seattle and St. Louis meet tonight in a Monday Night affair, a week after Jacksonville and San Diego graced our televisions. The Rams are having a dreadful season, and the Seahawks have playoff hopes that only a mother could love. Both teams come in with losing records, and so for the second week in a row, we have a game where no team with a winning record is playing. It might be tempting, then, in the middle of this Monday Night Football slowdown that this has been a bad year for ESPN, in getting match ups.
You would say that, though, only if you had no memory of the past. We tend to block out bad experiences. It’s how we survive as parents, and choose to have other kids. It’s also why Monday Night Football continues to be so popular. We may whine and complain about the particular match ups, hoping for the ideal that pits two great teams against each other, but we tune in each week. Usually, we don’t see two good teams playing each other.
This year, from week 10 on, we will have seen two of the top teams (Green Bay and New England) face two patsies (Minnesota and Kansas City, respectively), then watched a playoff team in New Orleans face another contender in the Giants, followed by the last two games. Then, of course, the final two match ups are 10-3 Pittsburgh versus 10-3 San Francisco, and 10-3 New Orleans versus 8-5 Atlanta.
How does this compare to the last decade? The two match ups of non-winning teams is typical. Every Monday night schedule after week 10 has had at least one such matchup over the last decade, with 5 of the 9 previous seasons matching this year with 2.
On the other hand, having 3 different games on Monday Night this year with both teams having winning records? That’s more unusual. The last time it happened was 2006. The last time there were more such compelling MNF match ups in the second half of the season was 2002. There is a good chance, with the Giants’ win last night, that there were 3 different match ups featuring playoff teams since week 10. That would match 2002, when Tampa Bay-Pittsburgh, Oakland-New York Jets, and San Francisco-Philadelphia all played over the second half of the season. Half of the seasons in the last decade have had one or fewer match ups on Monday night featuring two winning teams after week 10, with 2004 and 2007 having none.
So enjoy your above average Monday Night schedule this year, particularly with the compelling match ups between teams you will see in January, over the next two weeks. As recent history shows, it could be a lot worse.
[Photo via Getty]