The NFL thinks the heated presidential campaign caused lower TV ratings. With the election over, and Donald J. Trump prevailing, we will see if they are right.
Several NFL players think America made the right choice on Election Day.
“I’m happy with the results,” said Chicago Bears QB Jay Cutler. “I’ve supported Trump for a while.”
“Drain the swamp,” tweeted Cincinnati Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert, quoting a phrase Trump often used about political corruption.
“I can’t believe Trump actually won. I was just kidding. Make America Great Again,” tweeted Buffalo Bills guard Richie Incognito.
The NFL hopes to make their ratings great again this Sunday with marquee match-ups such as Dallas at Pittsburgh, Seattle at New England, and Denver at New Orleans.
Here is a preview of Sunday’s action . . .
Dallas Cowboys (7-1) at Pittsburgh Steelers (4-4)
Pittsburgh hopes to snap a three-game losing streak. This will be hard to do against Dallas, winners of seven in a row.
The Cowboys miss two starters in their secondary, safety Barry Church and cornerback Morris Claiborne, a less than idea situation facing QB Ben Roethlisberger.
This game could go either way.
Seattle Seahawks (5-2-1) at New England Patriots (7-1)
In this rematch of Super Bowl XLIX, the Patriots take the field as the fresher team. They come off a bye week, and the Seahawks played a physical Monday-night contest against Buffalo, then flew cross country to New England a few days later .
The Seahawks compete without their top two tailbacks and star defensive end Michael Bennett. The Patriots activated versatile running back Dion Lewis, who reportedly lobbies for a role in Sunday night’s game, from the PUP list.
While it should be competitive, Seattle could get fatigued in the second half, and New England should win a close game.
Kansas City Chiefs (6-2) at Carolina Panthers (3-5)
The Panther play their role models.
Last year the Chiefs started 1-5, and then won 10 straight to make the playoffs. The Panthers started 1-5 this year, and now ride a two-game winning streak.
The Chiefs play without three key players – WR Jeremy Maclin, DE Jaye Howard, and LB Justin Houston. Also, their best linebacker, Derrick Johnson, might not play. So there’s is a decent chance the Panthers make it three wins in a row.
Denver Broncos (6-3) at New Orleans Saints (4-4)
The Saints offense is on a roll averaging 30.3 points a game led by superstar QB Drew Brees.
Unfortunately for the Broncos, they will be facing Brees without their top cornerback, Aqib Talib, who is nursing a back injury.
And it will be hard for the Broncos’s young, developing QB, Trevor Siemian, who has struggled lately, to keep up with Brees on the scoreboard.
The Saints should win this game.
Houston Texans (5-3) at Jacksonville Jaguars (2-6)
This game probably won’t help the NFL’s ratings dip.
The tilt features two quarterbacks struggling to find their way, Houston’s highly-paid Brock Osweiler, and Blake Bortles, Jacksonville’s 2014 #1 pick.
Since you never know which Osweiler or Bortles shows up, it’s difficult to predict the outcome of this game.
Los Angeles Rams (3-5) at New York Jets (3-6)
A battle of two veteran quarterback trying to keep their jobs – the Rams’ Case Keenum and the Jets’ Ryan Fitzpatrick.
The QB that loses will likely be replaced by a youngster after this game, since the losing team will essentially be out of playoff contention.
The Jets, at home, should find a way to win this game.
Atlanta Falcons (6-3) at Philadelphia Eagles (4-4)
Falcons QB Matt Ryan, enjoying a career year, returns home to Philadelphia. He has tossed zero interceptions in his last 72 passes.
The Eagles have lost two in a row, and for the fourth straight contest are at a physical disadvantage thanks to the NFL scheduling department. First, they played three teams in a row off a bye week, and now they face the Falcons, who experienced 10 days to rest coming off Thursday Night Football.
It’s hard to pick against Ryan (23 touchdowns, 119 QB rating) going toe-to-toe with a rookie quarterback (Carson Wentz) learning on the job.
Green Bay Packers (4-4) at Tennessee Titans (4-5)
The Packers play minus star pass rusher Clay Matthews, but should find success with Nick Perry and Julius Peppers coming off the edge.
Wide receiver Randall Cobb and running back Ty Montgomery return at full strength for Green Bay. Both were limited the last couple of weeks.
The game should be close, but the pick here are the Packers.
Chicago Bears (2-6) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-5)
Tampa Bay compete without two starting offensive linemen – center Joe Hawley and left guard Kevin Pamphile. On top of that, left tackle Donovan Smith has been inconsistent.
The recently improved Bears pass rush should be able to take advantage and win this game.
Minnesota Vikings (5-3) at Washington Redskins (4-3-1)
The Vikings desperately need to get their ground game going, and this could be the week it happens against the NFL’s 31st-ranked rushing defense.
The Redskins will be without star receiver DeSean Jackson and standout left tackle Trent Williams.
This game is a toss-up.
Miami Dolphins (4-4) at San Diego Chargers (4-5)
A battle of two of the NFL’s hottest running backs, Miami’s Jay Ajayi (529 yards in the last three games) and San Diego’s Melvin Gordon, the NFL touchdown leader.
But you have to give the edge to San Diego, because their quarterback (Philip Rivers) is much better than Miami’s QB (Ryan Tannehill).
San Francisco 49ers (1-7) at Arizona Cardinals (3-4-1)
Activist/quarterback Colin Kaepernick has yet to win a game since taking over as San Francisco’s starting QB on October 13. He is 0-3.
It’s probably going to turn into 0-4.
The Cardinals are coming off a bye week, at home, and a much better team.