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Bears-Houston game, strong schedule, figure to add to NBC’s Sunday night bounty; NFL ratings soaring

Ah yes, it is very, very good to be the NFL. And it only figures to get better.

Through the halfway mark, NFL games rank as the top 14 shows on TV this season. Here’s a big reason: Nearly one quarter of NFL games (31 of 132) have had the winning score in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter or in overtime – the highest rate ever through Week 9 since at least 1970.

Best TV viewing in sports: The last hour of the early games on NFL RedZone.

The numbers have occurred during a period when the early fall weather was decent for most of the country and with the games facing competition from baseball’s postseason and the election.

Now that the San Francisco Giants and Obama have been crowned, and with the weather starting to do its cruel turn towards cold and yuk, viewers will have no other choice but to stay inside and watch football, football and more football.

NBC really is in position to cash in with a loaded schedule. Through nine weeks, NBC’s Sunday night games are averaging 21.2 million viewers per game, ranking as the No. 1 show in primetime.

Sunday’s game features the 7-1 Houston Texans traveling to Chicago to face the 7-1 Bears. The Bears always are a strong ratings draw, and even better when they are among the NFL’s best. Houston is the favorite in the AFC. Should do a big number if the game is good.

Flex scheduling then kicks in for NBC during week 11, but I doubt the network will play that card much this year; possible exception San Diego-Jets on Dec. 23 depending on where those teams stand in playoff hunt.

Here’s what NBC has coming up:

Nov. 18: Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers

Nov. 22: New England Patriots at New York Jets (Thanksgiving)

Nov. 25: Green Bay Packers at New York Giants

Dec. 2: Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys (NBC won’t give up game at Dallas)

Dec. 9: Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers

Dec. 16: San Francisco 49ers at New England Patriots

Dec. 23: San Diego at New York Jets

Dec. 30: TBA.

All in all, it’s good to be NBC this fall.

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ESPN’s Monday Night Football isn’t as blessed. Monday’s game features the dreadful Kansas City Chiefs at Pittsburgh. It also is looking at Carolina-Philadelphia (Nov. 26), Jets at Tennessee (Dec. 17).

However, MNF does have some winners: Chicago-San Francisco (Nov. 17), Houston-New England (Dec. 10) and Atlanta-Detroit (Dec. 22).

MNF is in good shape, ranking as the No. 1 show on cable.

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Fox and CBS receive the NFL’s biggest numbers with the Sunday doubleheader games. The NFL reports:

Sunday late afternoon NFL games continue to draw more viewers than anything on TV. FOX is averaging 24.6 million viewers for its Sunday national telecasts and CBS is averaging 23.1 million viewers.  The FOX and CBS national telecasts and NBC Sunday Night Football are the only programs on TV averaging more than 20 million viewers.

More from the NFL:

Through Week 9, NBC’s Sunday Night Football is the most-watched show in primetime and ESPN’s Monday Night Football is the most-watched program on cable.

In addition, the average NFL game telecast (including broadcast and cable) has drawn 16.0 million viewers – more than double the average primetime viewership (7.7 million) for the big four broadcast networks in the new television season, according to information provided by The Nielsen Company.

Since the beginning of the 2012 NFL season, NFL games have topped the local ratings in NFL markets a record 91 percent of the time – up from 86 percent through nine weeks last season.

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The NFL Network is on a record pace, averaging more than 7.6 million viewers (including over-the-air telecasts) in its first year with Thursday Night Football games in the first half of the season.  Last season, Thursday Night Football posted a record average 7.3 million viewers.

Tonight, NFL Network has Andrew Luck’s first of what will be many nationally televised games against the dreadful Jaguars. The NFL Network crew, though, hopes to make the most of its trip to Jacksonville:

NFL Network’s Rich Eisen, Marshall Faulk, Deion Sanders, Kurt Warner and Steve Mariucci are in Jacksonville, FL this week for the Thursday Night Football game between the Jaguars and Colts. Before the game, the group will head to TPC Sawgrass to determine who can come closest to the pin at the world famous 17th hole in a feature that will air during the Kay Jewelers Postgame Show after the game. PGA Tour veteran Jim Furyk will be on hand to assist the guys and help them with their shots.

For the record, I parred 17 the one and only time I played the hole.

 

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