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Friday, October 11, 2013
Inside Slant: Thursday night tackling

By Kevin Seifert

I've been working this season to find clear, objective evidence of what, to the naked eye, seems to be a trend toward bad and/or sloppy football on Thursday nights. To my dismay and enlightenment, I've yet to have much success.

A review of season-long statistics via the ESPN Stats & Information database continues to turn up only two significant differences between Thursday games and those played on Sundays and Mondays: Lower completion percentage and lower Total QBR on Thursdays as compared to games on Sundays and Mondays. At least through five weeks, other objective tell-tale signs -- penalties, turnovers, third-down conversions, punt totals -- aren't appreciably different.

If you watched the most recent Thursday night game between the New York Giants and Chicago Bears, you probably noted what seemed to be far more missed tackles than you ordinarily see in NFL games.

According to Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus (PFF), the Bears missed 10 tackles and the Giants missed six. But the average for Thursday night games has been 5.3 missed tackles per team this season, according to PFF, so that means the Bears-Giants game was more of an outlier than the norm.

We'll keep monitoring the situation. Documentation is important for us to be able to say with certainty that short preparation times lead to less appealing football on Thursday nights. For now, here's what we can say:
  1. On Thursday nights, quarterbacks are completing 54 percent of their passes and have a QBR of 41.3.
  2. On Sundays and Mondays, they have a 62.3 completion percentage and a 52.7 QBR.

Stay tuned. ...