It is generally agreed by all National Football League experts that CBS and Fox couldn’t have asked for better conference championships Sunday if they picked the games themselves.
After all, the AFC and NFC title games are featuring the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds in both conferences.
But judging by the ratings in Buffalo last weekend, the networks better hope that the NFC title game between the New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Rams featuring quarterbacks Drew Brees and Jared Goff and the AFC title game between the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs featuring a quarterback battle between Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes are competitive.
The ratings for the divisional playoff games last weekend in Buffalo experienced significant declines from a year ago when the games were much more competitive.
Kansas City’s 31-13 romp over the Indianapolis Colts on WGRZ-TV (Channel 2), the local NBC affiliate, on Saturday afternoon, had an 18.9 rating. That was down from a 21.1 rating for Philadelphia’s 15-10 win over Atlanta a year ago on NBC.
The Los Angeles Rams’ 30-22 victory over the Dallas Cowboys Saturday night had a 17.6 rating on Fox affiliate WUTV (Channel 29), down from a 19.0 rating for New England’s 35-14 win over Tennessee a year ago that was carried by the CBS affiliate WIVB-TV (Channel 4.)
New England’s 41-28 blowout win the Los Angeles Chargers Sunday afternoon had a 26.2 rating on Channel 4, down from a 30.4 rating a year ago when Pittsburgh outscored Jacksonville, 45 -42.
New Orleans’ 20-14 win over Philadelphia late Sunday had a 25.2 rating on WUTV, down from a 29.3 rating for Minnesota’s last-minute victory over New Orleans, 28-24, on the Fox affiliate in 2018.
There are a lot of factors in ratings, close games, big names like Brees, Goff, Brady and Mahomes, and weather among the big three.
The severe weather predicted across the country surely will help keep people inside their homes and drive ratings. But the closeness of the games could be just as important a factor.
One thing is certain: The two games will be the highest-rated TV events of the year – until the Super Bowl on Feb. 3.