1. Four weeks into the NFL season is when you can get a good grasp on which teams are good and which teams are bad. Yes, one or two teams that stink right now will turn their season around and one or two who are playing well will sputter at some point.
But right now, with a month in the books, we know which teams have a high level of watchability and which teams are just pigs.
Unfortunately for the NFL, Amazon, NBC and ESPN, the rest of the prime-time schedule is filled with pigs.
The Bears (0–4) have four prime-time games remaining, as do the Raiders (1–3) and Broncos (1–3). The Aaron Rodgers–less Jets (1–3) are on prime time three more times (not including Amazon’s Black Friday game against Miami), as are the Patriots (1–3) and Vikings (1–3).
The prime-time schedule has just three games left that I’d classify as A+ games from a matchup/watchability standpoint. And it’ll be two after this week when the Cowboys play the Niners this Sunday night.
In Week 7, the Dolphins visit the Eagles on Sunday night. And in Week 11, the Eagles play the Chiefs on Monday night.
There are a handful of games I’d classify as solid B+ matchups, mainly thanks to the Cowboys being good this season. Those games are as follows:
Week 6: Cowboys at Chargers, ESPN
Week 12: 49ers at Seahawks, NBC
Week 12: Ravens at Chargers, NBC
Week 13: Seahawks at Cowboys, Amazon
Week 16: Ravens at Niners, ESPN
But that’s pretty much it.
The NFL is hurt by the Bengals being a mess this season, because Cincy has prime-time games at the Bills in Week 9, at the Ravens in Week 11 and at the Jaguars in Week 13.
Meanwhile, the world will be treated to these gems, although there’s a high probability of flex being used:
Week 8: Bears at Chargers, NBC
Week 10: Panthers at Bears, Amazon
Week 10: Jets at Raiders, NBC
Week 11: Vikings at Broncos, NBC
Week 12: Bears at Vikings, ESPN
Week 16: Patriots at Broncos, NBC
In addition to those matchups between awful teams, there are a slew of games that have the potential to be over after the first half (if we’re lucky):
Week 6: Giants at Bills, NBC
Week 7: 49ers at Vikings, ESPN
Week 10: Broncos at Bills, ESPN
Week 15: Chiefs at Patriots, ESPN
Given the state of the prime-time schedule, it’s important to know the flex rules.
For Sunday Night Football, flex may be used up to two times between Weeks 5 and 10, and at the NFL’s discretion during Weeks 11–17.
For Monday Night Football it may be used at the NFL’s discretion in Weeks 12–17.
For Thursday Night Football it may be used up to two times between Weeks 13 and 17.
Please keep Al Michaels, Kirk Herbstreit, Mike Tirico, Cris Collinsworth, Joe Buck and Troy Aikman in your thoughts and prayers.
2. I understand that everyone has lost their minds over the Taylor Swift–Travis Kelce thing (including NBC), but try not to embarrass yourself when spouting off your conspiracy theories. For the people who have opined that Swift is doing this as a publicity stunt to promote her movie, I can assure you she did not need promotion. Here are three headlines FROM THE FIRST WEEK OF SEPTEMBER before she and Kelce went public.
New York Post, Sept. 5: “Taylor Swift film poised to shatter box office record with $100M opening weekend”
People Magazine, Sept. 4: “Taylor Swift’s The Eras Tour Concert Film Breaks AMC Theatres Record with $26 Million First-Day Ticket Sales”
Forbes, Sept. 8: “Taylor Swift’s Concert Film Has Already Earned Back Its Budget–Before It’s Even Opened”
3. I wasn't the only person who thought Cris Collinsworth’s analysis of Zach Wilson on Sunday night was bizarre. Bill Simmons also thought the NBC analyst’s constant praise was weird, but he explained his stance in a more colorful way.
4. Has some of the Colorado fever gone away now that the team has lost two in a row and is out of the top 25?
Colorado’s loss against USC on Saturday drew 7.2 million viewers. A great rating, but down from what Buffaloes games were drawing.
The previous week, when Colorado lost to Oregon, the game drew 10.3 million viewers. The week before that, Colorado–Colorado State drew 9.3 million viewers for a game that started at 10 p.m. ET.
5. Will Ferrell gave Eli Manning a lesson in how to say his famous line from Wedding Crashers, during the ManningCast last night, but the former quarterback struggled.
6. The latest SI Media With Jimmy Traina dropped, featuring a conversation with New York Post sports columnist Andrew Marchand about the latest sports media news and story lines.
Topics discussed include ABC/ESPN using staggered start times for their Monday Night Football doubleheaders, how the Pat McAfee–ESPN marriage is going, the Deion Sanders effect on college football, Chris “Mad Dog” Russo’s viral cocktail/gambling/gummy moment on First Take, a New York radio fight, the expected move for WWE's Monday Night Raw and much more.
Following Marchand, Sal Licata from WFAN radio and SNY TV in New York joins me for our weekly “Traina Thoughts” segment. This week, we discuss Sal’s NFL-watching dilemma, whether the NFL should ban the Eagles’ push play, single-game streaming costs, bizarre Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce prop bets and more.
You can also watch SI Media With Jimmy Traina on YouTube.
7. RANDOM VIDEO OF THE DAY: This one is for my fellow Howard Stern Show fans. Ronnie the Limo Driver was recently the victim of one of the funniest prank calls in show history.