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  • A look at the average margin of victory in every Thursday Night Football game. Do short turnarounds typically favor the home team?
By Conor Orr
November 17, 2017

Last night, ahead of the Steelers-Titans tilt in Pittsburgh, Richard Sherman offered a short reprise of his now-infamous 2016 Thursday Night Football hate piece for the Player’s Tribune.

Sherman, the Seahawks cornerback who suffered a season-ending Achilles injury last week on Thursday Night Football, said “obviously, the league isn't gonna change it. And people don't wanna see it changed. So, it's here to stay. [I] think guys do need more than four days to get ready for a game, but, hey, it's the guys who don't play the game who make the rules, which is the way it's supposed to be, I guess."

While Sherman knew his Achilles issue was going to catch up with him one way or another, a near-universal hatred of Thursday night games by the players brings up an interesting question: Does the disdain creep into the product? Meaning, does one team tend to hang it up quicker when the game isn’t breaking their way? Consistent, lopsided affairs, like Thursday's 40-17 Steelers win, feel like the norm lately. But how true is that? 

A look back at all six seasons that have featured regular Thursday Night Football games shows no significant trend in terms of margin of victory. Here’s the average in each TNF game by year (the average margin of victory in all regular season games since 2012 has been 11.5 points):

2012: 13.5

2013:  8.9

2014:  16.4

2015:  9.6

2016:  13.1

2017:  10.7

Aside from a 21-point Packer victory over the Chicago Bears and Baltimore’s horrific 40-0 shutout of the Miami Dolphins, this season has actually featured fairly close games. The margin of victory in 2017 matchups has gone: 4, 2, 21, 5, 5, 1, 40, 13, 5.

There’s also not much to home field advantage, despite an obvious preference by players to not get on an airplane while they’re still swollen and recovering from the week before. Before this Thursday’s game, home teams won 44 out of 77 matchups in the regular TNF era.

A dazzling performance by Antonio Brown against Tennessee saved the football world from rehashing a similar version of Sherman's argument on Friday morning, and maybe just in time. After the Thanksgiving slate, each of the next two Thursday Night Football games (Washington-Dallas and New Orleans-Atlanta) are theoretically strong matchups. Will they live up to the hype and keep us talking about what happens in the actual games?  

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PRESS COVERAGE

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1. This season felt like the end of the Arizona Cardinals as we knew them under Bruce Arians. But maybe not? Larry Fitzgerald is coming back in 2018. 

2. These young Jaguars! So much pluck! So much confidence! Rookie Dede Westbrook expects to gain 200 yards in his debut against the Browns on Sunday.

3. Digging deeper into Adrian Clayborn's insane game against the Cowboys last week.

4. ​Ben McAdoo is on the hot seat in New York, but team ownership has already guaranteed him the rest of the season. Ownership wasn't always this pragmatic

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5. An interesting take on Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan from The New York Post: Is the looming quarterback decision a legacy-defining moment?  

6. A falcon joined the Patriots during their Air Force Academy practice on Thursday—the kind with wings, not the 28-3 kind. 

7. The Dolphins defense is so disappointing that their coordinator has foregone sleeping until it gets better.  

8.  Hey, remember Greg Olsen? The Panthers are getting the tight end back next week

9. This calendar year has brought a lot of changes that could be scary to some. But take comfort in knowing that, with the TB12 method, we can all live forever. 

10. USA Today runs down all the insane football drills your high school coach used to make you do. Remember Bull in the Ring? 

Have a story you think we should include in tomorrow’s Press Coverage? Let us know here.


THE KICKER

Thanks to some aggressive questioning from a TMZ journalist, we now know that Terrell Owens and Donovan McNabb still dislike one another. God bless us all.  

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