With the Patriots and Jets both taking care of business on Thanksgiving Day and improving to 9-2, we can now settle in and look forward to 10 days of unprecedented media hype leading up to the December 6 Monday Night Football matchup between the two top teams, record-wise, in the AFC.
While in many cases, hype is overblown heading into games of this type, in this case the game really does have incredibly huge implications for both teams involved, as well as the entire AFC playoff race. The winner will have a leg up on a top-two seed and first round bye, while the loser will likely find themselves hitting the road as a 5th seeded wildcard team -- even if the teams end up finishing with the same record and that record is the best in the conference.
So in many ways, this game will determine which AFC East team will have an easier path to the Super Bowl. It might be hard to overhype that, but I have confidence that our media friends will manage to do so.
After the Celtics signed Shaquille O'Neal this summer and added him to a cast of personalities that included Nate Robinson, Glen Davis, Kevin Garnett, Marquis Daniels and Delonte West, I immediately felt that a "Hard Knocks" type program about the Celtics would be a fascinating concept.
Instead, HBO turned to hockey and will be doing "24/7 Penguins/Capitals: Road To The NHL Winter Classic," which debuts December 15 and chronicle the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals in the leadup to the NHL Winter Classic from Heinz Field on New Year's Day.
ESPN apparently felt the same way that I did, though, and signed up the Celtics for their own series, "The Association."
The five-episode series will debut December 3, with one new episode coming each month, taking the team into April as they prepare for the NBA playoffs. Last year, the Los Angeles Lakers were featured in the series.
The Patriots continue to pile up huge ratings numbers. Last week, I predicted that last Sunday's game against the Colts would surpass the then-season-high numbers put up in the Steelers game the week before. It happened, with Patriots/Colts putting up a 42.04 for WBZ-TV on Sunday.That number is the third-highest regular season game ratings in Patriots' franchise history.
The Colts number could be in jeopardy during that December 6t Monday night game against the New York Jets, which seems to be shaping up as a game that will determine which AFC East team gets a first round bye and which team becomes a fifth-seeded wildcard team.
While the Patriots are getting the headlines for their ratings numbers, the Celtics are breaking records of their own in that area. In the first nine games on Comcast SportsNet this season, the Celtics are averaging a 5.4 rating which equals an estimated 237,000 homes in New England. CSN ratings are up 27 percent from the 4.3 HH average of the first nine telecasts a year ago.
The Celtics vs. Wizards telecast on Wednesday, November 17 was the highest-rated regular season telecast in network history and the second highest rated program on Boston television that evening, averaging a 7.49 and an estimated 329,560 New England homes. The telecast surpassed the Celtics vs. Chicago matchup on December 19, 2008, which averaged a 7.45 HH rating.
Three Celtics broadcasts this season -- the game against the Wizards, as well as against the Knicks on October 23 and the Pistons on November 2 -- all surpassed the 6.0 rating mark. CSN has also outperformed the national network telecast by 43 percent for shared games on November 3 vs. Milwaukee and November 5 vs. Chicago.
Comcast SportsNet first telecast of the season -- Celtics vs. Cavaliers on October 27 – was the highest rated opening telecast in network history at a 5.61 HH rating.
The news of Victor Martinez signing with the Detroit Tigers did awaken some Red Sox talk this week on the local airwaves, and you can be assured that principle owner John W Henry is aware of it.
Through his Twitter account, you can see him pointing followers to react to a harsh post by Boston.com columnist Eric Wilbur, (which Henry refers to as "nonsense") and then reassuring fans with the following Tweet:
One thing to keep in mind this offseason is that MLB has changed over the last 5 years. Strategies must evolve as well. Happy Thanksgiving!