Inside Slant: Thursday night slop

September, 13, 2013
9/13/13
10:15
AM ET
It makes intuitive sense: Thursday night games in the NFL usually mean three fewer days of preparation, recovery and game-planning. With less time to get ready and get healthy, teams aren't physically or mentally capable of the typical performances. Sloppy, unaesthetic games -- such as Thursday night's clunker between the New York Jets and New England Patriots -- seem likely to follow.

Is that the case, however? Or is our somnolent dislike of midweek night games playing mind tricks on us?

To be clear, there is no doubt that the Jets-Patriots game veered significantly from the average NFL game in Week 1. The chart shows that points fell by half, punts doubled, first downs plummeted and quarterback performance dropped off significantly. It was, however, only one game between teams whose offenses are in well-described transition. A second-half rainstorm surely didn't help matters, either.

I'm not ready to draw any conclusions from one game given those circumstances. I think it's worth tracking the differences between Thursday night play and Sunday/Monday games throughout the season. But a quick look back at the 2012 season shows the Thursday night games themselves were closer to the others than we might have imagined. Of all the objective statistics available, there were two noticeable dips: in passing completion percentage and Total QBR.

On Thursday nights last season, NFL quarterbacks completed 50 percent of their passes and compiled QBRs of 45.9. In all other games, they completed 61.1 percent of their passes and had a QBR of 55.2. Otherwise, statistics from the two game scenarios essentially matched up.

The sum of game quality can't be measured in statistics, and there isn't always a way to measure tired decisions or poor execution. But I'm willing to give it a shot this season. Feel free to hit the mailbag or tweet me (@SeifertESPN) with suggestions.

Note: For those who aren't yet familiar, I host a daily chat on ESPN.com to discuss the news of the day and anything else that strikes your fancy. You can find it through this link at 1 p.m. ET.

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