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Volume 24 No. 214
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NFL Sees Lowest-Rated Divisional Round In A Decade Despite Many Close Games

The NFL this past weekend likely saw its lowest-rated Divisional Playoff round since '09. Each playoff window had its lowest figure in at least a decade, despite three of the four games coming down to the wire. Leading the way over the weekend was yesterday's Vikings-Saints game on Fox, which drew a 21.8 overnight rating. That figure is the lowest overnight for a late Sunday afternoon Divisional game since Chargers-Steelers drew a 21.4 on CBS in '09. Earlier yesterday, CBS drew a 20.4 for the Jaguars' 45-42 win over the Steelers, marking the lowest overnight in that window in at least 15 years. There was no early Sunday afternoon window last year, as Steelers-Chiefs on NBC was moved to primetime due to snow in the K.C. area. That primetime game last year drew a 21.9. On Saturday afternoon, NBC drew a 17.4 overnight for the Eagles' 15-10 win over the Falcons, which is the lowest figure for that 4:30pm ET Saturday window since Ravens-Titans drew a 17.0 on CBS in '09. In primetime on Saturday, CBS drew a 16.6 overnight for the Patriots' 35-14 win over the Titans, which is the lowest-rated Divisional Saturday primetime game since Cardinals-Panthers drew a 15.8 in '09 (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor).

NFL DIVISIONAL GAMES: OVERNIGHT RATINGS
'18 WINDOW (ET)
NET
'18 MATCHUP
RATING
4:30pm
NBC
Eagles-Falcons
17.4
8:00pm
CBS
Patriots-Titans
16.6
1:00pm
CBS
Jaguars-Steelers
20.4
4:30pm
Fox
Vikings-Saints
21.8
'17 WINDOW (ET)
NET
'17 MATCHUP
RATING
4:30pm
Fox
Falcons-Seahawks
18.3
8:00pm
CBS
Patriots-Texans
18.2
4:30pm
Fox
Packers-Cowboys
28.2
8:00pm*
NBC
Steelers-Chiefs*
21.9
NOTE: * = Moved to primetime in '17 due to weather in K.C. area.

CONFERENCE USA: SI.com's Richard Deitsch noted conference championship weekend is "likely to provide significant insight into the health" of NFL TV viewership. Jacksonville is the "smallest AFC TV market" to have a team play in the conference championship since '99 when the same Jaguars made it. The fact that the Jags put up 45 points on the Steelers in the Divisional round should "bring more viewers early than expected, but their presence is truly an X-factor for viewership this deep in the postseason." Meanwhile, Vikings-Eagles in the NFC Championship has some "very good things going for it viewership-wise including market size" and a "pair of historic NFL franchises." A 6:40pm ET kickoff also "works out well for the NFL given the Eagles-Vikings matchup (on paper) looks to be the higher viewership play." But what the game "does not have is household names" at QB (SI.com, 1/14).

ONE FOR THE AGES: Fox' Joe Buck is being praised on Twitter for his call of the Vikings' 61-yard game-winning TD pass as time expired. SI.com's Jimmy Traina wrote, "Might be the best call of Joe Buck’s career and one of the best ever." FS1's Jason Whitlock: "Joe Buck nailed the call. I was sitting here speechless, not knowing what to think. Joe Buck rose up like he knew it was a possibility. Great moment." Louisville-based WLCL-FM's Mark Ennis: "Have to give Joe Buck credit. The single, punctuated word call was solid." L.A.-based KABC-TV's Jory Rand: "Any play that gets the normally understated Joe Buck to scream like that is as big and improbable as any play you'll ever see." Detroit-based WXYT-FM's Evan Jankens: "People say Joe Buck doesn’t show emotion. I disagree."

EYE MAKEUP
: In N.Y., Phil Mushnick wrote that he likes CBS' Tony Romo "because he speaks football in regular-guy English." However, he "speaks too much of it." Mushnick: "Is there no one at CBS to tell him?" (N.Y. POST, 1/15). In Tampa, Tom Jones writes CBS' Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts, who called Jaguars-Steelers yesterday, is "outstanding." Eagle "gets excited but not overly so." He "saves his best calls for the most dramatic moments." Fouts has a "sharp football mind and a friendly delivery that never talks above the viewer." They are "as good as anyone" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 1/15).

HI HO SILVER! In N.Y., Bob Raissman wrote execs at HBO Sports and NFL Films should "start lobbying" to get the Raiders for "Hard Knocks" this year. An inside look at a Gruden training camp "would be fascinating." Gruden "working his way back after 10 years in a broadcast booth would make this edition of 'HK' special." Since he has "worked in TV all these years, Gruden might understand the advantages of being on the show." Meanwhile, "don’t be surprised" if the Raiders' first game of '18 is a "MNF" matchup (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 1/14).