Thursday night games not so special for visiting teams

As a fan Thursday night football is a great addition to the week. As a member of the media it makes for great conversation on my radio show. But for the visiting teams on Thursday nights it's no bargain.

Thursday night scoring dips
Falling below average
TeamThu. pts.Season avg.
Bears1034.8
Browns1623.6
Cardinals321.4
Steelers2323.3
Seahawks618.3

With each passing week it is getting harder and harder to get players ready to travel Wednesday and play on three days' rest. One player scheduled to play next Thursday has already told me if he had to go this past week he probably would have to sit it out.

Throw out Week 1 because the two teams weren't coming off a Sunday game, but since then visiting teams are 1-5 on Thursday night.

The only team to defy the odds and win on the road on a Thursday night was the Giants, over the Panthers.

Unfortunately the Bears, Browns, Cardinals, Steelers and Seahawks all lost on the quick turnaround.

It's an even tougher situation when you realize four of those teams lost division games. What is the common thread of the five losing teams besides being on the road?

Slow starts on Thursday
First-half scoring
Team1st Q2nd Q
Bears00
Browns07
Cardinals30
Steelers100
Seahawks33

I spoke to one coach who played as a visiting team on a Thursday night and he said it was hard to get going early.

I took a look at the pace of scoring in the first half of the games the five losing teams had and it did tell a tale of the slow start.

Next week, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers travel to Minnesota for a Thursday night game against the Vikings. The week after that, the Kansas City Chiefs head to San Diego.

Next year the NFL is going to have to figure a way to have as many teams as possible play on Thursday nights off a bye the week before and I sure would like to see a lot fewer division matchups played on a short week.


Pat Kirwan has been around the league since 1972, serving in a variety of roles. He was a scout for the Cardinals and Buccaneers, a coach for the Jets as well as the team's Director of Player Administration where he negotiated contracts and managed the team's salary cap. He is the author of Take Your Eye Off the Ball: How to Watch Football by Knowing Where to Look, and the host of Sirius NFL Radio's Moving the Chains.
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