Is this the worst-ever season for Monday Night Football? Our MNF Index says yes

Even though Roger Goodell has insisted on watering down the league’s overall product, Monday Night Football still carries a special cachet. It’s been a rough run for MNF this year, though, with some real stinkers for what’s supposed to be the NFL’s special weekly feature. In fact, according to ALDLAND’s proprietary MNF Index, this has been the worst slate of Monday-night games in NFL history.

Unlike Monday Night Football’s ascendant sibling, Sunday Night Football, or its soon-to-be-terminated cousin, SEC on CBS, all MNF matchups must be chosen well before the season starts. This means that the NFL and its media partners have to make significant, long-range predictions based on minimal data when they are setting all of the pairings for their premier weekly showcase. How well do they do this?

To answer this question, the MNF Index evaluates the quality of Monday Night Football games immediately prior to kickoff to present a quality score illustrating the schedule-makers’ degree of success at presenting enticing games likely to live up to the expectations of a nationally televised, Monday-night event. The MNF Index therefore does not consider any in-game performance data.

The results, shown below through the current week, unambiguously support a clear conclusion: Monday Night Football never has been less worthy of its billing than in 2022. While a look into the deep numbers also reveals that the decline began in 2021, MNF’s quality has fallen off a cliff this season.

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The ALDLAND podcast finally gets around to some non-college football topics. MLB playoffs and NFL are both on the menu this week, as we make our picks for the World Series and recap the first quarter of the NFL season. But don’t worry if college football is your thing, since we obviously can’t go a week without discussing that either.


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Tuesday Afternoon Inside Linebacker

tail3ALDLAND’s weekly football review returns after an infamous fall wedding weekend. Bear with us as we attempt to piece together the happenings of the last few days.

College Football


  • After the Game of the Century of the Season of the Week last week in College Station, everybody predicted a scheduling letdown this week. Sports predictions have become (always were?) completely useless and devoid of meaning, but once in a while, the wisdom of the crowd gets it right. Throwing out expired food? No, actually. A soft slate of week-four matchups? For the most part, yes.

The games — That 70s Show:

  • Clemson opened the week of play by getting punchy on Thursday night in a closer-than-it-should-have-been win over North Carolina State. So far as I can tell, the Tigers have played only fellow Carolinians to this point in the season. A check of their schedule confirms this, and the trend will continue this weekend. (EDIT: Except for that little game against UGA in week one.) Clemson 26, North Carolina State 14.
  • A number of teams posted gaudy scores and spreads. Since they already had their fun, they’re all getting grouped in this one paragraph. Ohio State 76, FAMU 0. Louisville 72, FIU 0. Miami 77, Savannah State 7. Washington 56, Idaho State 0. Baylor 70, Louisiana-Monroe 7 (that one’s actually a little surprising). Florida State 54, Bethune-Cook 6. Wisconsin 41, Purdue 10. UCLA 59, New Mexico State 13. Texas A&M 42, SMU 13. And others.

Words I never thought I’d Say

“I’m super bummed not to be going to Indianapolis this weekend.”

But seriously. I am. At the conclusion of highstepping through the middle of my local watering hole, celebrating the shank heard ’round the world, I high-5ed my New England brethren and we declared, “We’re going to Indy!” Our hopes were shattered, however, when a Kayak search yielded $500 rooms at the Days Inn. Therefore, you’ll find us at a local duplex, unbothered by non-Patriots fans. A modern day foxhole of gametime anxiety and unfettered love for TB12.

As the youngest of 8 kids, my dad instilled a love for Boston sports early and often. However, his one true love are the New England Patriots and I have to say that I think I agree. I spent many Sundays in my younger years watching the atrocious squad get devastated over and over and over again. Then, something awesome happened. They got great (and I got accused of being a new, bandwagon fan. I mean, my favorite player used to be Tom Tupa, so…there’s that.). It’s been a good ride, and I’m  so so so so so excited to be heading to SB46. However, the last 10 days have been brutal. The Ravens victory locked up, I immediately turned my attention to how nervous I was for this game. I’m talking about literal nerves. Can’t sit still, can’t focus, feel a little grab in my chest every time I breathe, nerves. You see, I haven’t quite recovered from the last postseason match up of these two squads. I consider it to be the Voldemort of Superbowls. After the Balitimore game, I got the following email from my former (Boston loving) roommate, with whom I watched the disaster unfold (from our friend, Luke’s, apartment in NYC):

fyi – under no circumstance should you and I watch this Pats/Giants Super Bowl game together….and you should prob tell Luke not to have people over to his apt for a watching party…and none of us should spontaneously move back to NYC in the next two weeks.
I feel better getting that off my chest.
Go Pats.


I laughed. Seriously though…I will be sure that none of those things happen.

Every time I sit down at my computer and prepare to do work, , I think to myself, let me just check my Twitter feed one more time…it’s a time sucking cycle that’s led to infinite articles, Spotify playlists, image galleries, video clips, etc etc. I just cannot wait. I love this team. It’s hard not to (yeah, yeah, I know a ton of you disagree). Even the stars started as down on their luck guys with a chip on their shoulders and something to prove. I really, really hope that they prove it on Sunday. In the meantime…..eeeeeeeeks.

Should NCAA sanctions against Jim Tressel affect his ability to work in the NFL?

FOX Sports reports:

The NCAA hit Ohio State with a one-year bowl ban and additional penalties Tuesday for violations that started with eight players taking a total of $14,000 in cash and tattoos in exchange for jerseys, rings and other Buckeyes memorabilia.

Tressel was tipped to the violations in April 2010 but didn’t tell anyone — even after the athletes got caught last December but were allowed to play in the Sugar Bowl against Arkansas if they served suspensions to start the 2011 season. Among those in the group: starting quarterback Terrelle Pryor and leading rusher Daniel ”Boom” Herron.

Tressel, who guided Ohio State to its first national championship in 34 years after the 2002 season, was pressured to resign after 10 years with the Buckeyes. The NCAA hit him with a five-year ”show-cause” order which all but prevents him from being a college coach during that time.

”Of great concern to the committee was the fact that the former head coach became aware of these violations and decided not to report the violations,” the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions wrote in its report.

Under a show-cause order, any school that hired Tressel would have to present its case for why it needed to employ him, and would risk severe penalties if he were to commit any further infractions after that.

The NCAA also issued a public reprimand and censure, put the Buckeyes on probation through Dec. 19, 2014, and reduced football scholarships from 85 to 82 through the 2014-15 academic year.

The full article is here.

This fall, Tressel, recently hired as the Indianapolis Colts’ in-game video replay consultant, delayed his first day on the job, apparently to comport with the suspensions Ohio State players were facing.

A five-year show-cause sanction is a different animal, though, and Tressel’s multi-week, self-imposed suspension of sorts is not as apt a comparison as NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s suspension of Terrelle Pryor. Back in August, I wrote about the Goodell Doctrine and the Pryor Precedent (and the potential Benson Exception), which apparently reflect NFL policy in the context of the relationship between the NFL and the NCAA and situations in which those facing NCAA sanctions seek to avoid them by fleeing to the NFL.

At this point, I haven’t formed any opinion on how Tressel’s five-year show-cause sanction compares with Bruce Pearl’s three-year show-cause sanction except that there’s a two-year difference between the two and the men coach different sports. Right now, my only question in the Tressel matter is for Goodell: Will the NFL impose a five-year requirement on the Colts and all other teams that they must meet the show-cause burden before hiring Tressel for any job starting in the 2012-2013 season?

Curtis Painter starts…right where his team left off

I usually roll this into the regular Monday morning post, but since Indianapolis waited until Monday night to come from ahead to lose to the Buccaneers, we wait until Tuesday to note the loss. It was Curtis Painter’s first start, but there really wasn’t anything different going on.

With a matchup like that, it was tough, but I didn’t watch the game. Every time I switched over to it between innings of the infinitely more compelling Yankees-Tigers game, the referees were in the midst of a penalty summit. What a dud pairing like Tampa Bay and Indy definitely needs is heavy-handed officiating and lots of penalty flags. And a pirate ship. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of that giant boat shooting off cannonballs during football games. The Bucs may lack identity as a team this season, but an artilltery-equipped oversized seafaring vessel they got.

Why don’t the Colts pick up David Garrard?

Rotoworld reports:

Colts not going after David Garrard –

The Colts have not contacted free agent QB David Garrard. With the inept Kerry Collins being evaluated for a concussion and Peyton Manning (neck) likely out for the season, Colts fans are clamoring for an addition. But the team might be best off going with Collins and Curtis Painter, thus entering themselves in the Suck for Luck sweepstakes. The Colts have not shown any interest in Kurt Warner or Marc Bulger either, although they are both retired anyway.

I was thinking last night that Indy should make a move for Garrard, whom Jacksonville almost certainly shouldn’t have let go. They probably will have to lose every game– something of which they’re undoubtedly capable– to get Andrew Luck, but it still is amazing to think that a team like the Colts would even be in a position where flushing a season looked like the team’s best (and possibly only) option. Keep reading…

Autumn in ALDLAND?

Football season is in full swing, the U.S. Open is coming to a close, and hurricane season (hopefully) is wrapping up. Summer won’t quite go away, though, as evidenced by the perfect baseball weather (along with its accordant short sleeves, sweat, and sunburns) at yesterday’s Tigers and Twins game in Detroit— more on that game later today. 

There were two week-one blowouts yesterday in the NFL: the Ravens beat the Steelers 35-7 and the Peyton Manning-less Colts succumbed to an Arian Foster-less Houston team 34-7. While the scores were similar, and both outcomes were somewhat surprising, I think everyone believes the Steelers will have a successful season this year. When I saw the Houston-Indy score, though, I said that the Colts might lose every game this year, and I think we’re going to find out just how much Manning meant to that team. Beyond the obvious– his complete control of the offense– Manning also set up the Indianapolis defense. Like a dominant pitcher who can influence other games by allowing his team’s bullpen a day off, Manning kept his defense off the field, thereby allowing them to pursue a more aggressive (and energy-draining) approach when the other side did control the ball.