As I was making my picks, I couldn’t help but think how good some of the games coming up this weekend are. Then I came to the Monday Night game: Indianapolis Colts against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This game sounds terrible, which prompted me to ask, should the NFL flex Monday night games?
For those of you who don’t know, the flex scheduling is something that comes into play in week 11. The NFL will pick the game it feels is the most competitive and attractive for ratings, and they will move it from either a one o’clock or four o’clock start to the night game on Sundays. Monday night games are decided before the season even starts. While it’s hard to predict which teams will be bad or good and which matchups will be interesting throughout the season before it actually starts, why not make things a little easier on yourself, NFL? Monday Night Football should be reserved for the best of the best games of the week. Players get especially amped for Mondays, as they are the only game on. It’s prime time, and every other team has had a whole day to digest what happened on Sunday.
Monday nights have held a special place in the heart of football fans, and with announcers ranging from Howard Cossel to Al Michaels to Dennis Miller to Jon Gruden, we have always held that game to a higher caliber. We have seen games that will go down in football lore for years to come. How about the game where Brett Farve went for 399 yards and four touchdowns a day removed from his father passing away back in 2003? There is the game where the NY Jets were down 30-7 to the Dolphins in the fourth and Vinny Testaverde came roaring back to win in overtime. History has even been made, such as when Howard Cossel confirmed that music icon John Lennon had been shot live during the Monday night game. Oh, and for all you young folks, that guy John Madden who makes those awesome video games used to occupy the booth on Mondays.
So why should the fans be forced to suffer through the 0-3 Colts with first time starter Curtis Painter taking on the not-as-good-as-we-thought-they-would-be Buccaneers this Monday? Sure, there is a chance Painter could come out, light up the air, and cement himself as the second coming of Peyton Manning – I have seen crazier things happen (see Cam Newton weeks 1 and 2), but it’s not likely. I would much rather see the Detroit Lions against the Dallas Cowboys. Can you imagine the undefeated Lions heading into Dallas one week after we watched Tony Romo with half a lung pull out a win against Washington? You can’t tell me Jerry Jones, QCB, or any other Dallas faithful would be opposed to having back to back Monday Night games.
Another intriguing matchup is the New England Patriots at the Oakland Raiders. Oakland just took it to New England’s divisional rival the Jets last week, and with Buffalo handing Brady and the boys their first loss, this one has the makings to be a great one. I would much rather watch this game where we could see a changing of the guard in the AFC or even a possible playoff preview with these two teams. Speaking of the Buffalo Bills, why not have the undefeated circlers of the wagons play on Monday night? Chris Berman would certainly appreciate the nod, – I could even see him trying to convince Jon Gruden that he should be the one to sit down with Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Sure, week 5 is a little better with Chicago heading to Detroit on Monday, but with games like Packers/Falcons, Jets/Patriots, Eagles/Bills, and Titans/Steelers on the docket they could probably flex one of those games, too. Let me give you some more examples of the Monday games we have to look forward to watch: Miami at NY Jets, Baltimore at Jacksonville, San Diego at Kansas City, St. Louis at Seattle, and Pittsburgh at San Francisco. There are more, trust me, but no need to keep kicking something while its down, which is what we will probably be watching most Monday nights. Now I know it’s hard to predict injuries and how things will play out throughout the season, but let me see how this sits in your stomach. St. Louis has two Monday night games, Miami has two, Jacksonville two, and Kansas City two – not exactly teams that make you want to tackle the guy in the next cubicle at work just because you’re ready for Monday night.
The NFL also likes to showcase players in their Monday night games, so one could make an argument that the Carolina Panthers should even get showcased in the big lights. How great would the Jon Gruden pregame interview with Cam be? Chucky and Newton sitting there watching tape of his first two games as he throws 400 yards. Gruden looks over at him with one eye squinted and that fiendish smile and asks, “That Steve Smith, he’s fun to the throw the ball to, huh, he used to give me nightmares when I was in Tampa.”
Of course there would have to be some structure to this. I propose that the Monday games are set for weeks one through three. After two weeks of seeing the teams, the NFL can switch the week four game. They would let the teams know after the week two Monday night game that they are being moved, so that way they would have two weeks of advance notice so the coaches, players, and fans alike have plenty of time to prepare for the adjustments. Then, every week after would work the same way, and that way we get the best matchups. Television will have better ratings, fans will be happier they get to see better games, teams are happier they get rewarded for good play that season as opposed to waiting until the next year. It’s a win-win situation. With that being said, Roger Goodell, you are welcome for my suggestions, and you can get my contact information from the station. I have a few suggestions on that kickoff rule we can go over, too.