What was the most watched NFL regular season game?

Turns out the New York Giants-Dallas Cowboys Thanksgiving Day game was the most watched regular season NFL game in history. That is correct. History!

Counting streaming, because that is a growing area for how viewers consume content, 42 million people watched the game. When you consider Dallas pulled away in the second-half but the audience held, it is quite a statement as to how the most popular sports leagues in the USA holds an audience. Although some might add, with legalized betting, that is another reason the league holds sway over the country. And that is a subject for another day, as the Giants late-game TD proved costly to those who bet the Cowboys, a 10-point favorite.

To put the game’s ratings in perspective, the regular season contest blew out the sixth and final game of the World Series, won by the Houston Astros over the Philadelphia Phillies. That game attracted only 12.5 million viewers. In other words, baseball is as much America’s National Pastime as boxing and horse racing. It’s not. The NFL is king, followed by college football. Everyone else comes in a distant second. That is why, even in a tenuous economy, advertisers keep running to the NFL.

Don’t expect the blueprint to change anytime soon.

NFL Thanksgiving Day predictions

I have never been good at predicting games and that is why I make few predictions. Forecasting the outcome is an inexact science. After all, that is why they play the games. Nevertheless, predicting games can be fun, especially if you don’t have money on the outcome.

So here goes. My predictions on today’s NFL Thanksgiving Day games.

  • The Lions will beat the Bills. Detroit has won three straight and is playing at home. Granted, the Bills are picked by many to make it to the Super Bowl and did win at Ford Field over the Browns on Sunday, when the game was moved their because of the snowstorm in Buffalo, but I like the Lions.
  • Dallas over the Giants. This is tough, because I am a longtime Giants fan, but I cannot pick with my heart here. The Giants are one of the surprise teams this season, but last week for the first time lost a game they should have won, falling to Detroit at home. Plus Dallas has New York’s number, is riding high after that dominant win Sunday at Minnesota and is playing home on Thanksgiving. Enough said.
  • Minnesota to beat the Patriots. Look for a bounce back game from a very good Vikings club. Yes, the Pats are a surprising 6-4 and have the GOAT coach, but their offense is practically nonexistent and the Vikes are playing at home. Can the Pats pull a rabbit out of their hat? Of course, but I don’t see it happening here.

These are my outright selections sans point spread. Enjoy the games and Happy Thanksgiving.

Weather podcast returns

The Brad Field Weather Podcast returns for another winter season and I am proud to once again serve as co-host of the show with award winning meteorologist Brad Field. For years Brad was the chief meteorologist at NBC Connecticut, winning numerous awards. At WDRC radio in Hartford, where I had a show, Brad would be a frequent guest. In 2018, he and I decided to reprise our radio repartee with the BFW Podcast. We produced our first podcast in December of 2018. This season, in addition to audio, we plan on doing more video. Below is the first episode of the new season.

“Somebody shot the president”

Tuesday will mark 59 years since President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, TX. Though only in the third grade, I remember the day vividly, from when my teacher came into the classroom shaken, to the walk home from school to the weekend of mourning and murder of the alleged assassin.

In my weekly sports newsletter, which you can subscribe to on this page, I write about that day, as well as other topics that are more related to sports.

Automated strike zone in 2024?

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred met the media, after the owners meeting today and touched on numerous topics, from Pete Rose lobbying for the Hall of Fame, to collusion, franchises and rules changes.

Rules changes are what caught my eye. Of course, MLB is instituting changes next season, from restrictions on the shift to the pitch clock, pick off attempts and the number of times a batter can step out of the batter’s box. But according to The Athletic (paywall), the commissioner says MLB is considering rules changes for 2024 as well, “but Manfred did not want to float ideas at this stage.”

My hunch is one of the changes will be the highly anticipated automatted strike zone. Baseball will step up its experimentation with the technology in the minor leagues in 2023. Without being critical of umpires, who have a difficult job, this past post season is proof the time has come to utilize the technology in some form.

With betting on games more prevalent than ever and being pushed by MLB, getting the call correct is a must, especially with billions being generated by wagers on games. Although the commissioner is mum on what’s next in rule changes, the betting here is the strike zone is the favorite to head the list for 2024.

Sports magnates read polls too

If you own or operate a sports franchise, you are as cognizant of polls as the most prolific political observer. The Associated Press, in collaboration with Princeton University, has produced a survey on how Generation Z and Millennials consume their news and what interests them. Sports is way down the list.

All sports are encompassed in the survey. But if you were to break it down, it is why everything baseball gears is toward the younger generation. It is no coincidence that the low-rated, just concluded World Series had a majority of it audience at 55 years of age and older. And don’t kid yourself; the NFL, NBA and NHL are also taking notice. College is also a part of this landscape. Haven’t you noticed the empty seats at many big college basketball venues? I have. It is a big reason why betting on sporting events is so heavily promoted.

Look for all sports to continue the trend of marketing to a younger generation.

Report: Rizzo reups with Yankees. Good news for Judge?

The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal is reporting the Yankees and free agent first baseman Anthony Rizzo have reached agreement on a new contract. Rizzo opted out of his two-year deal with the Yankees after the season. Website reports – usually designed to generate clicks – had the World Champion Houston Astros hot and heavy after Rizzo, but that apparently turns out to be fake news.

It is well known that Rizzo and Yankees free agent Aaron Judge have forged a strong bond. This could bode well for Judge to return to the Yankees.

Yankees have no agreement with GM Cashman

New York Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner has admitted General Manager Brian Cashman is continuing in his position without a new contract. In an interview on YES with Meredith Marokivits aired on Monday night, Steinbrenner was effusive in his praise of the longtime GM and what he has meant to the organization but that the two have not reached a deal on a new contract. Cashman’s contract expired after the season.

What this tells me is the holdup could be money, years, power or all of the above. I just find it astounding that the two sides had not settled the situation, before the end of the season.

As for free agent Aaron Judge, Steinbrenner says every effort will be made to sign him. He admitted to having conversations with Judge since the Yankees were ousted in the ALCS in four straight games by their nemesis, the Houston Astros. He also added that if Judge wants to be the captain of the Yankees, he would be open to that but that the final decision belongs to Judge.

Manager Aaron Boone’s job is safe. Steinbrenner stated Boone has the respect of the players and they want to win for him and those are big factors why Boone, who has two years remaining on his contract, is not going anywhere.

Steinbrenner also took issue with comments the Yankees are a “stagnant” organization. He said they are constantly evolving and keeping up with the game’s latest trends, while balancing analytics with “pro scouting.“