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Week 16: What happened to Saturday afternoon games in December?
December 19, 2013 - Matt Wellens
In the world of football, Fridays are for high school teams, colleges rule Saturdays and Sundays are reserved for the NFL.
That is, until late December rolls around.
By then high schools have transitioned to basketball and college football is holding meaningless bowl games between mediocre teams in Albuquerque and Boise, sponsored by potatoes and whatever Belk is.
When the holidays roll around, it’s supposed to be all NFL.
Something has been missing the past seven years, however, in an age where the NFL is forced down our throats whether we want it or not 24 hours a day and 365 days a year.
What’s missing is the late December Saturday afternoon doubleheaders. Remember how magical those were?
OK, so the Saturday afternoon games scheduled for Weeks 15-17 at the end of the regular season were hardly ever in the same tier as today’s Sunday Night Football match ups or the late afternoon games on FOX and CBS.
They were, however, better than what we’ve been fed on Thursday and Monday nights the past few years, or what the NFL used to book on Saturday nights, which also don’t exist anymore, with the exception of the occasional holidays.
Come playoff time, the NFL is happy to give us games on Saturday during the Wild Card and Divisional rounds, but why not give us something — anything — during the regular season?
The NFL seems determined to chase every dollar that is out there these days, which is why the league is adding more games in Europe and even talking to Google about taking over DirecTV’s $1 billion-per-year Sunday Ticket package. It seems inevitable the NFL will play again on Saturdays, especially if TNT or TBS fork up enough dough.
I hope it does, because come the holidays, I’d much rather sit with my family and watch a bad football game, rather than talk about politics, my job, or why I’m not married with kids like the rest of my cousins.
Now on to my picks, where each week I will include a short analysis on the Packers’ and Lions’ games, plus the primetime games on NBC and ESPN. There is no Thursday night game this week on NFL Network, so I’ll add a very key playoff game in the NFC South.
New York Giants at Detroit Lions
4:05 p.m., Sunday, FOX
Giants quarterback Eli Manning has been turning the ball over as many times as the Detroit Lions entire team has combined. Last one to throw a pick loses. Lions 28, Giants 27
4:25 p.m., Sunday, CBS
As bad as the Dallas Cowboys defense was last week, Packers backup quarterback Matt Flynn was even better. Green Bay doesn’t need to bring Aaron Rodgers back for this game to win. Packers 24, Steelers 21
1 p.m., Sunday, FOX
The Saints appeared to have the NFC South won after a 31-13 beat down of the Panthers in Week 14, but then the Saints proved how vulnerable they were on the road with a loss the following week in St. Louis. Panthers 31, Saints 27
8:30 p.m., Sunday, NBC
This is essentially a playoff game for both these teams who are attempting to win division titles. It’s their only way into the postseason at this point. Eagles 21, Bears 20
8:40 p.m., Monday, ESPN
At the beginning of the season, it appeared Monday Night Football had nabbed a potential NFC Championship preview. The 49ers have lived up their end of the deal, but not Atlanta. 49ers 35, Falcons 13
Here are the rest of my pick with the winners in bold:
Dolphins at Bills
Vikings at Bengals
Broncos at Texans
Titans at Jaguars
Colts at Chiefs
Cowboys at Redskins
Browns at Jets
Buccaneers at Rams
Cardinals at Seahawks
Patriots at Ravens
Raiders at Chargers
Matt Wellens is Sports Editor of the Mining Journal. Check out his Armchair QB column every Thursday at MiningJournal.net and follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/mattwellens. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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