NBC expects big ratings for Packers-Vikings

Posted Oct. 20, 2010 @ 2:39 p.m.
Posted By Eric Edholm

NBC can boast some hearty ratings this season, with three of the top nine most-watched programs on television since the start of the NFL season.

And "Sunday Night Football" could be its biggest hit yet.

Packers-Vikings always delivers big ratings in a normal year. But with Brett Favre returning to Green Bay against a Packers team he beat twice last season, the rivalry game will become that much bigger theater.

"There's a rivalry for you," play-by-play announcer Al Michaels said. "Favre goes back to Lambeau Field again. Story lines around the clock for this one … (It's a) soap opera, and a football game will break out."

NBC executives never would admit this, but the investigation into Favre's alleged text-message relationship with a former Jets employee adds an interesting twist to the exposure.

"What is it about Brett Favre? No matter how big the mess, no matter how many distractions there may be, he steps up and plays some of his best football," analyst Cris Collinsworth said. "We all know he's going to be in the headlines this week. There is no way around that. And, of course, he's going to have to go out there and take on the old faithful and Lambeau Field. It should be great to watch."

What NBC will admit is that the Vikings' acquisition of Randy Moss, a player Favre campaigned hard for the Packers to acquire when he was in Green Bay, gives this monster game another layer of intrigue, even if the teams are hovering around the .500 mark currently.

"Charles Woodson is an inside slot guy," NBC analyst Rodney Harrison said. "He's played very effective in that position. You have to put Charles Woodson, your best cover guy and playmaker, on Percy Harvin.

"You have to double-team (Randy) Moss and you have to take your medicine with the other guys."

But Favre is the big story this week. And it's not all because of his off-field issues.

"Even though Brett played at Lambeau last year, it's always going to be emotional for him and the Packers fans," NBC studio analyst Tony Dungy said.

"Football Night," the network's lead-in show, is averaging 8.1 million viewers through its first six weeks, its most ever for that time frame, and up four percent over 2009's 7.8 million viewers. This week's show could be its biggest of the season to date.