A Monday Night Football Wild Card game is a terrible idea

A Monday Night Football Wild Card game is a terrible idea

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Here’s a hint.

Here’s a hint.
Illustration: Getty Images

Monday Night Football is great… for the fans. We always appreciate an extra night of NFL football. For the teams involved though, it’s not very appealing. Sure, it gives those teams an extra day to prepare for their opponent, but it also gives them one fewer day to prepare for their opponent the following week. Oh, and let’s not forget the repercussions of injuries on Monday night as well. Playing on Monday night gives those players one fewer day to recover. Depending on who gets hurt, that could be an enormous problem for some teams.

So... [ahem]…

WHO IN THE WORLD WOULD SCHEDULE A PLAYOFF GAME FOR MONDAY NIGHT?! AND WHY ON EARTH WOULD YOU SCHEDULE THAT FOR THE NEXT FIVE YEARS?!

Money is the reason, obviously. Why would you schedule games in similar time slots that would compete against each other when you can play them on different days and earn twice the money? However, this decision is a slap in the face to players and teams regarding both physical health and football in general.

If you don’t think the lack of time to prep and recover matters, riddle me this: Why is it then that between 2019 and 2020 teams that play on Thursday have a record of 31-29-1 (.517) the following week and average more points per game the following week (24.2) than their season average (23.3), while teams that play on Monday night have a record of 31-33 (.484) and average fewer points per game the following week (23.7) than their season average (24.1)? Huh, that’s a pretty big sample size with over a three-point disparity in win percentage, and a 1.3 differential in points scored compared to the season average. That’s not normal. By the way, I didn’t include data from any of the weird Tuesday, Wednesday, or Friday games during 2020. Those were specific circumstances that halted some teams’ ability to play well, so I just disregarded those games.

Obviously, there are a lot of factors that go into this, such as quality of opponent the following week, injuries, the opponent’s rest, whether or not a team was coming off a bye, etc. However, the same can be said for the TNF data as well, so that argument is more or less invalid.

Obviously, both TNF and MNF suck for those that have to perform. I’m not the first person to say that, and several NFL players have been outspoken about their disdain for games on Thursday. Former Saints’ quarterback Drew Brees once said of TNF:

“Do you understand what guys’ bodies go through in a game? And then to have to turn around four days later and play?”

Thursday Night Football is a detriment to NFL player health and safety, and Monday Night Football is as well, just to a lesser extent. That’s what makes scheduling a playoff game on Monday Night Football so detrimental. This is Wild Card Weekend we’re talking about, which means that the top seed in this division gets a bye week. If giving one team two weeks to prep and recover wasn’t already a huge enough advantage, just imagine if their opponent had one less day to recover and prep as well. It’s just tipping the battlefield more in one team’s favor.

The NFL knows that giving teams an extra day is an advantage. That’s why Week 17 (now Week 18 with the 17-game schedule) always sees every team play on Sunday. It’s been that way every year since 2007. So, why all of a sudden is it okay to give certain teams in the playoffs more rest than others?

“But the league already does that by giving some teams a bye.” You got me there, but unlike being forced to play on a Monday for no reason at all, teams actually play to earn that bye. The outlines for earning that extra recovery and prep time were in the cards the whole time. That’s not the case for playing a Wild Card Game on Monday.

While one day may not seem like such a big adversity to overcome, I guarantee that every single team, when given the choice to play either Sunday or Monday in the playoffs, would choose the first option. It’s more routine, better from a preparation standpoint, and safer for the players. Too bad the NFL doesn’t care about that kind of stuff.

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