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Volume 24 No. 216
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Vikings-Eagles NFC Championship Matchup, Underdog QB Roles Could Help NFL Ratings

There is some reason for the NFL to hope Sunday's Vikings-Eagles NFC Championship "could offer a meaningful bump" to its sagging TV ratings, according to Rob Tornoe of the PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER. There is a "lot of buzz about the Vikings thanks to their walk-off win over the Saints." And not only do the Eagles remain the No. 4 television market in the country, but last week’s Vikings-Saints game "pulled in an impressive 55.5 rating" in Minneapolis-St. Paul. That "bodes well for the NFL" heading into Sunday. Plus, the Eagles have been a "reliable television draw all season" (PHILLY.com, 1/16). In Baltimore, Peter Schmuck writes what Jaguars QB Blake Bortles, Eagles QB Nick Foles and Vikings QB Case Keenum "lack in traditional star power, they make up for in the kind of everyman human interest angles that can’t help but capture the imagination of a lot of fans who are understandable weary of all the controversy and the competitive status quo." Of the eight postseason games that have been played so far, "only two have been decided by more than one score." Schmuck: "That’s entertainment." Whether this postseason "provides enough of it for fans to allow the NFL to get a fresh start next season remains to be seen, but the league couldn’t ask for a better opportunity to turn the page on a very chaotic" '17 season (BALTIMORE SUN, 1/17).

PLAYING FAVORITES? BLEACHER REPORT's Mike Freeman writes the possibility of a Jaguars-Vikings Super Bowl "causes NFL execs to throw up in their mouths." There is "no way" it would be a "ratings bonanza." Freeman: "That's why the league will be quietly crossing its fingers Super Bowl media day doesn't include reporters interviewing Case Keenum before pivoting to Blake Bortles" (BLEACHERREPORT.com, 1/17). In Boston, Steve Buckley writes under the header, "For This Week At Least, Roger Goodell Is A Patriots Fan." He writes, "While plucky underdogs make for good copy, the Super Bowl will get the highest ratings if it has big stars and/or heinous villains. The Jaguars have neither. The Patriots boil over with both" (BOSTON HERALD, 1/17).

ON THE WAY DOWN
: In Atlanta, Tim Tucker notes the Eagles-Falcons NFC Divisional playoff game Saturday "posted a 29.3 rating" in Atlanta, down from a 35.0 rating for the comparable Falcons-Seahawks matchup last year. That ratings difference "means about 138,000 fewer homes in the Atlanta market watched Saturday’s game than watched the Falcons-Seahawks game a year earlier -- about 707,000 homes vs. about 845,000" (AJC.com, 1/16).

IN NEED OF A TURNAROUND: In Charlotte, Erik Spanberg noted the Panthers have "lost a quarter of their local TV audience over the past two years." An average of 413,000 people "watched the Panthers each week in the Charlotte TV market" in '17, down 3.9% from last season. That dip followed a "decline of 20.6%" in '16, when the team finished 6-10 following a trip to the Super Bowl a year earlier (BIZJOURNALS.com, 1/12).