League may sell Thursday games
Seattle Times news services
The NFL is looking to sell six to eight of the 13 games it carries Thursday nights on NFL Network to one of its existing broadcast or cable partners — CBS, Fox, NBC or ESPN — or TNT, which once carried games.
The league, which has explored the idea of selling the games for some time, is awaiting formal responses from interested networks by Friday.
In a statement, Brian Rolapp, the chief operating officer of NFL Media, who will become the head of NFL Network in the spring, said the “network has done a great job turning Thursday into a night for NFL football.”
“We want to make it even bigger and accelerate its promotion and growth with an additional partner,” he said.
If the league likes an offer it receives, the winning network will televise the games in the first half of the season, which would ideally give a promotional boost to NFL Network for its later-season games.
That’s the common sentiment about the NFL, with the proliferation of high-profile quarterbacks and all the league’s rule modifications in recent years that favor the passing game.
But in the playoffs this weekend, the conference semifinals round, the common theme of the teams that won was some old-school type statistical performances by the QBs as the running games and defense took over.
The four quarterbacks — New England’s Tom Brady and Denver’s Peyton Manning in the AFC, San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick and Seattle’s Russell Wilson in the NFC — combined to complete just 58 percent of their passes for an average of 182 yards per game and a total of just three touchdowns (an average of 0.75 per QB).
In contrast, in the regular season they combined for a completion percentage of 63, averaging 256 yards and two TD passes a game.
And the passer rating of each of the four was worse than their regular-season average.
Taking it another step, two of the four winning teams had more yards on the ground than through the air — led by the Patriots (234-198). And Brady is glad.
“The way our defense is getting the ball for us and, really, what we’ve done the last three or four weeks (with) the running game has just been awesome,” Brady told reporters after his team beat Indianapolis. “Hopefully, we can do it next week, too.”
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