The Thursday night games have had a bad rap recently as crummy games that no one would want to watch. Tonight’s game should be different, as we get the Broncos and Chargers in what should hopefully be something of a shootout. There’s even a little playoff importance, as the Chargers have the tiniest bit of life left in their chances to make the postseason and need a win tonight to head in that direction. But just for fun, let’s compare all the Thursday and Monday night games from the year so far. Both are locked in before the season, and while you would imagine the Monday night games should get better match-ups, it’s hard to know what will be good before the season even starts.
Week 1: Denver-Baltimore versus Philly-Washington and Houston-San Diego (two MNF to open the season). Both MNF games had decent comebacks (Washington came up short), but in retrospect I don’t think either game is more ‘prestigious’ than having Peyton go against the defending Super Bowl champs.
Week 2: Jets-Pats versus Bengals-Steelers. Both tradition divisional match-ups, both were defense-first affairs.
Week 3: Chiefs-Eagles versus Raiders-Broncos. Neither sounds great on paper, but KC and Philly have at least both been competitive this year. Oakland has been game but not actually very good.
Week 4: 49ers-Rams versus Dolphins-Saints. Both are sort of oddball games, in that I might have picked other ones with more appeal (Denver-Philly seems like an option, or maybe even Bears-Lions). Neither were close.
Week 5: Buffalo-Cleveland versus Jets-Atlanta. Alright, Buffalo-Cleveland should never be a premiere game. I would call this the first clear winner either way, unless you want to give week 3 to Thursday night.
Week 6: Giants-Bears versus Colts-Chargers. I think these are both pretty decent, and both ended up being decent games.
Week 7: Seattle-Arizona versus Vikings-Giants. I give both a meh?
Week 8: Panthers-Bucs versus Seahawks-Rams. Both divisional games featuring one good team and one bad team. The Seattle-St. Louis game ended up being closer, but I don’t see a big difference going in on which one you would prefer.
Week 9: Bengals-Dolphins versus Bears-Packers. I would lean towards MNF on the divisional rivalry, and because even when good neither the Bengals nor Dolphins are big draws.
Week 10: Washington-Minnesota versus Miami-Tampa. Who approved either of these games?
Week 11: Colts-Titans versus Patriots-Panthers. Colts-Titans is a divisional game, but I think you have to give the edge to Pats-Panthers here.
Week 12: Saints-Falcons versus 49ers-Washington. I know that 49ers-Washington was supposed to the QB new hotness showdown, but I’d still rather watch Saints-Falcons any given year.
Week 13: Baltimore-Pittsburgh (Thanksgiving evening special game) versus Saints-Seahawks. Ravens-Steelers has more tradition whereas Saints-Seahawks has more quality. Tough call.
Week 14: Houston-Jacksonville versus Dallas-Chicago. Given how crummy the Jags typically are, I would lean toward MNF here. As it turned out, Texans-Jags was the better game, but no points for that.
After this week, there won’t be any more Thursday night games, so the last comparison is Broncos-Chargers versus Ravens-Lions. As a Detroit fan I’m obviously more interested in that game, but as a football fan I think I would lean towards Broncos-Chargers. So overall I think MNF has a bit of an edge, but those games haven’t been massively better than the Thursday night games. And how about tonight’s game after all?
The Chargers hosted the Broncos back in week 10 as 7 point underdogs. It basically turned out that way, with San Diego losing by 8. The models expected a closer game, and I guess that could have been true to the extent that the Chargers missed a red zone field goal and settled for two others that went through the uprights. When I broke down that game, you had two good offenses with the Broncos obviously more like great and two iffy defenses with the Chargers being more like bad. But the teams weren’t as separated as you might have guessed, and the game was in San Diego. As it turned out, Denver turned their drives into touchdowns while San Diego settled, and the Broncos were generally more explosive.
This time the game is in Denver and the spread has moved to 10.5. That’s a bit tighter than you would expect; the 7 points in San Diego suggests the Broncos should be favored by 9 or 10 on a neutral field and thus more like 12 or 13 in Denver (depending on how much home field is worth exactly in San Diego and Denver). All three models like San Diego to cover again, but swung the more expected 6-7 points. Both teams are still fairly close on offense, with the little nods going to Denver, and the Chargers are still the worse defensive team. So I think you would expect this one to go about the same but with the home field advantage swing. If you think the first line was correct, then I think you would take Denver to cover since that swing should move their 8 point win on the road well past 10 at home. If you think the models were more correct, even though the pick ended up wrong, then you might like the Chargers to cover.
Looking at all the games, Luigi’s winners are Denver, Atlanta, Chicago, Tennessee, Indy, New Orleans, Miami, Philly, Seattle, San Fran, Buffalo, KC, Carolina, Dallas, Cincy, and Detroit. I don’t think I’ve checked in on how the picks are doing in an absolute sense (i.e. straight up, not against the spread or moneyline); Luigi is 120-71-1 or about 63%.
How about the SuperContest? Luigi’s five top picks for the week are Green Bay +7.5, Tennessee +2.5, and then a four-way tie between Chargers +10.5, Miami +2.5, Giants +7, and Tampa +5.5. I’m not sure who to disqualify out of that group, so let’s see what the Yoshis say and maybe we can go with a consensus pick. Yoshi 1 likes Pittsburgh +3, Giants +7, Miami +2.5, Rams +6, and Tennessee +2.5. Yoshi 2 likes Green Bay, San Diego, Tampa, the Giants, and Tennessee. So that doesn’t help either; Yoshi 1 left out the Chargers while Yoshi 2 left out Miami. I’ll make Luigi’s picks Green Bay, Tennessee, Giants, Tampa, and the Chargers. The temperature should be around freezing by the fourth quarter, so Peyton has to fall apart, right?