Professional football with games of consequence returned Thursday Night, as the defending New England Patriots returned … and get rocked 42-27 at home by the Kansas City Chiefs. And if you were wise enough to draft Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt (148 total yards, 3 touchdowns), I hope you remembered to insert him into your starting lineup unlike yours truly.
The other newsworthy story line from Thursday’s action came on Friday morning with the release of the overnight ratings, which showed another decline:
NFL Kickoff Overnights:
2017: Chiefs/Pats: 14.6 Irma
2016: Panthers/Broncos: 16.5
2015: Steelers/Pats: 17.7
2014: Packers/Seahawks: 16.8
— Sports TV Ratings (@SportsTVRatings) September 8, 2017
NBC draws 14.6 overnight rating for Chiefs-Patriots, marking lowest NFL Kickoff since 2009 (Titans-Steelers). Irma coverage big last night
— Austin Karp (@AustinKarp) September 8, 2017
It’s possible that current events are keeping people tuned to news and weather stations instead of a prime-time Thursday game that features the team America loves to hate-watch. But perhaps the NFL has some issues it needs to solve on the field or possibly even in the production booth. Only time will tell. Until then, we’ll keep an eye on this to see how the trend continues.
- Sunday’s regular season-opener between the Chicago Bears and Atlanta Falcons isn’t a prime-time game, but it does feature some premier matchups. Over at The Athletic, Dan Durkin offers up how controlling the running game will likely dictate who has the edge at Soldier Field. With question marks at receiver, it’s obvious the Bears have to be successful running the ball. But it’s about more than commitment, as Durkin emphasizes how good the group needs to be running on first down. On the defensive side of the ball, Vic Fangio’s crew needs to contain Atlanta’s ground game with its front seven – which would allow the secondary to have a fighting chance against a potent passing game.
- Hub Arkush of Pro Football Weekly echoes those sentiments, writing the Bears must play to their strengths if they want to pull off a Week 1 upset. While Mitch Trubisky (rightfully) received a bulk of the attention at camp, it was rookie running back Tarik Cohen who performed the best. Cohen has been elevated to RB2, where he’ll fill in for Pro Bowler Jordan Howard. Because Mike Glennon is still a relative unknown with just 21 games of experience and the receivers are either unproven or looking to bounce back, a true commitment to the running game will be important in 2017.
- And even though there is a point to be driven home about running the ball early, often, and successfully on Sunday, Chris Emma of CBS Chicago writes Mike Glennon will get his say under center. For what it’s worth, Glennon owns quality numbers against the Falcons and wasn’t shabby against Dan Quinn’s Seahawks defense back in 2013. But that just highlights the importance of winning the turnover battle – which starts with Glennon not throwing interceptions.
- Rich Campbell of the Chicago Tribune lists five things that need to happen for the Bears to exceed preseason expectations. Beyond quarterback play and finding a reliable receiver, defense is a factor that can get overlooked sometimes. Vic Fangio’s unit has four new starters in the secondary, one of whom might not play because of an ankle injury … and four others who are coming off seasons in which they missed at least four games. This group will need to be healthy and productive if the Bears want to provide some pleasant surprises.
- And when the Falcons defense is on the field, this is a guy the Bears should be concerned about:
Takk McKinley looks ready to be the elite pass rusher the Atlanta Falcons need him to be pic.twitter.com/mJfWgUZSV3
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) September 7, 2017
- To be fair, the Bears have a pretty impressive pass rusher too in the form of outside linebacker Leonard Floyd. Bob LeGere of the Daily Herald wonders if Floyd is the Bears’ next Pro Bowl defender. The Bears’ defense has been blanked from the Pro Bowl in each of the last three years, so expectations are high for the second-year Georgia product who has bulked up his frame to battle opposing offenses and to be better prepared for the war of attrition. He picked up seven sacks in 12 games as a rookie, so hopefully improved technique and better health will lead to a significant leap in production.
- While his effectiveness as a pass rusher will be his money maker, Floyd might need to be a factor defending running backs out of the backfield from time-to-time. Kevin Fishbain of The Athletic explains how Atlanta’s running backs are an under-the-radar threat. Having to account for multiple big play receivers, dual threat running backs, and a quarterback coming off an MVP season is one heck of a way to get your season started on the defensive side of the ball.