It is at least reasonable to ask if the NFL has reached a turning point from which it may never recover, at least in terms of reclaiming its heretofore unassailable perch as the most popular entertainment vehicle in America.
Please don’t misunderstand, we won’t be holding any tag days for the league soon. "Sunday Night Football" has been the No. 1 rated show on prime time TV for the past six years running and will be again this year, Sunday late-afternoon kicks get even more viewers than the SNF games and Super Bowl LII will absolutely be the most-watched TV show of the year again by a ridiculously wide margin.
However, as I reported here in this column just last week, those huge ratings were down eight percent in 2016 over 2015, and are currently running about 10 percent below 2016’s ratings for this year.
It’s a problem, but just the tip of the iceberg-sized list of issues currently facing the game.
Take a look at this week’s Power Rankings.
Through just six weeks of the season, only the 49ers and Browns are winless, and other than the 5-1 Chiefs and Eagles, the NFL’s 28 other teams are all within two games of each other between 4-2 and 2-4.
Perhaps even more surprisingly, 24 of the NFL’s 32 teams are within one game of each other with either two or three losses.
Competition thrives on the good and the bad, and almost anything becomes less fulfilling when everything looks the same.
We have been asking the question for decades whether the NFL has achieved parity or mediocrity, and there is no way this season to make an argument for anything but mediocrity.