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NFL Divisional Playoff ratings continue downward trend

Florida Football Insiders

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

With three of the four games going to the final couple of minutes undecided, you would have thought that the television ratings for the NFL Divisional Playoffs this weekend, including the Jaguars at the Steelers, would have been good.

Instead, they were just average.

You did have major markets involved like Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Boston, but you also had medium to smaller markets like Nashville, Pittsburgh, Jacksonville, New Orleans and Minneapolis, too.

No Dallas, New York, Chicago, L.A., San Francisco, Seattle, etc. does make a difference, but the trend was again down, just like the 2017 regular season ratings.

As for the Jaguars upset of the Steelers in the 1 p.m. Eastern time slot on CBS, the game scored a national overnight rating of 20.4. While that’s a massive viewership number compared to even prime time programming, it’s the lowest number in that slot since a Ravens-Steelers AFC Divisional Game in 2002 got a 19.9.

There was no 1 p.m. Eastern Sunday Divisional round game a year ago, because NBC and the NFL moved the Chiefs-Steelers AFC match-up to a delayed 8 p.m. Eastern start due to forecasted bad weather throught the early part of that Sunday. So, the next valid comparison was the Seahawks at the Panthers 2016 playoff game that garnered a 23.1 overall rating.

CBS released local market numbers on Tuesday morning and not surprisingly, it was massive in Jacksonville:

As for the rest of the weekend, the Falcons loss at the Eagles got a 17.4 rating on NBC in the weakest (Saturday afternoon) slot. That number was down 5% from the comparable Seahawks at Falcons game in 2017.

More concerning was the defending champion Patriots one sided win Saturday night over the Titans only got CBS a small 16.6 rating. That’s down 9% from the Pats hosting the Texans a year ago and down 18% from the Packers at the Cardinals Saturday night 2016. That had to be troubling news to the league headquarters.

Still, the traditionally highly rated “late Sunday afternoon” window on the second weekend pitted the Saints at the Vikings on Fox and it had 21.8 rating for the best of the four games. However, with two non-top 20 tv markets, the game didn’t register close to the massive 28.2 rating the Packers at the Cowboys got last year.

It should be noted that game on Fox last year at 4 p.m. (and the Cowboys are the big reason) was the highest rated divisional round playoff broadcast in almost 20 years.

Still, even with the crazy dramatic win by the Vikings, it was the lowest Sunday 4 p.m. game broadcast since 2009.

One more point, these ratings are still massive for sports television, and all but one of the three games were played during the day/afternoon, where there is less audience available.

We’ll see if the Jaguars vs. the Pats in the earlier Sunday game at 3:05 Eastern and then the Vikings at the Eagles at 6:30 p.m. Eastern pick up the tv numbers.

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NFL

Some week one Fantasy “start’em or sit’em” advice

Florida Football Insiders

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Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

It’s the opening weekend of the NFL season, and also, fantasy football fans are rejoicing at seeing their season is getting underway, too.

So, with the fact that there’s so much interest in the beginning of the year and there are some unknowns involving the three Florida pro football teams, we decided to give out some quick “start or sit” fantasy football advice.

First up is the Buccaneers matchup with the Saints in New Orleans.

And while Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson will be the focus of the Saints secondary, they have veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick throwing to them.  They are probably both still worth the “start” on Sunday, especially Evans, who is off a disappointing season by his standards.

If you’re looking for a “sleeper,” it’s third receiver Chris Godwin, who really came into his own down the stretch of 2017. That included catching the game-winning touchdown pass in the final seconds against the Saints in week 17 .

More than likely, running back Peyton Barber (above) isn’t one of your primary backs in your league, but he will be the guy that gets the ball in key situations, including in the red zone and the goal line.

If you drafted rookie 2nd round pick speedster Ronald Jones, don’t expect much this week. While Jones will likely be active, he will probably be third-string behind Barber and Veteran Jacquizz Rodgers. And, he may not see the feel very much.

As for the Dolphins, Ryan Tannehill is back at the helm and that means receivers Kenny Stills and free agent newcomers Danny Amendola and Albert Wilson are guys he will look to spread the ball around to against Tennessee.

As a Fins sleeper? We’ve been touting second round draft pick tight end Mike Gesicki. He will especially be a threat to score TDs in the red zone.

Similarly with Barber for the Bucs, Kenyan Drake will likely get the bulk of the carries in this game. However, different from the Tampa Bay situation, it’s veteran Frank Gore is in the Miami mix. And, no one is not clear yet, who will get the ball in the red zone and on the goal line.

So therefore it’s dangerous to play Drake, if you have other options.

As for the Jaguars who are in New York to play the Giants, Leonard Fournette is always going to be a “must-play.” He looks to get his second year off to a big start against a shaky Giants front seven.

The real question becomes whether you trust Blake Bortles to get the ball to any of Jacksonville’s receivers, if you drafted them?

With Marqise Lee lost for the season with his ACL injury, Donte Moncrief will assume the role as the number one receiver. Players like Dede Westbrook and Keelan Cole are also good options. And we will have to  play the” wait-and-see game” with how much rookie second-round pick wide receiver D.J. Chark will be used?

Again, most of the Jags receivers would be in the “sit’em” category, if you have other options.

Good luck with your team and roster and just remember this advice is worth every penny that you paid for it

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NFL

Bucs, Dolphins, and Jaugars had surprises on cut down day

Florida Football Insiders

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

It’s a tough day all over the NFL has every team had to be down to 53 players at 4 p.m. eastern time. That meant for the Bucs, Dolphins and Jaguars, as well as everyone else, you were saying goodbye to 37 players that have been with you throughout the off-season and training camp.

There were some surprising names put on the waiver wire by each team:

In Tampa Bay, coach Dirk Koetter and staff parted with veteran safety and special-teams ace Keith Tandy. This one was a bit of a surprise because the six year veteran Tandy had moved into significantly more playing time the last couple of seasons. He started five games at the end of 2016 with 41 tackles and four interceptions. And by all accounts, he was a very hard-working and popular player. Bucs will apparently go with rookie Jordan Whitehead and also may move rookie defensive back MJ Stewart to safety some to compensate.

The Buccaneers also released two receivers in Bernard Reedy and Bobo Wilson, who saw a bunch of playing time and each had five catches in the final preseason game with Jacksonville.

Meanwhile for the Dolphins, they also released a veteran defensive back in Tony Lippett Saturday. Lippet had battled back from an achilles injury last year, but obviously was not effective enough for Adam Gase and staff to keep him on board. The Fins do have young DBs in Xavien Howard and Cordrea Tankersley, as well as veteran Bobby McCain.

Miami also released fourth string QB Bryce Petty who had an oblique injury the last two weeks of camp. The Fins kept David Fales as the third string QB behind Ryan Tannehill and Brock Osweiler. Also, Miami cut WR Leonte Caroo, who was a third round pick in 2016.

In Jacksonville, a bit of a surprise, as the Jaguars did not keep third string quarterback Tanner Lee. Lee a rookie from Nebraska fared well on Thursday night in the preseason finale against the Buccaneers. However, for now, the Jaguars seem to be content to go with Blake Bortles and Cody Kessler as the only two quarterbacks on the roster. Lee could come back on the practice squad.

Jacksonville cut veteran WR Shane Wynn and also injured tight end Ben Koyack in their moves.

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NFL

Browns coach Jackson to Antonio Callaway- “I’ll have your

Florida Football Insiders

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The second edition of “Hard Knocks” with the Browns aired Tuesday night on HBO and the dominant story line involved rookie former Gators WR Antonio Callaway.

One of the draws for the series each August is the the show has 24/7 access to the team through NFL Films’ cameras and microphones. And, it typically reveals insight and conversation not yet known.

And, the segments with Callaway did not disappoint in that department.

First, “Hard Knocks” already had Callaway mic’ed up for the Sunday afternoon August 5th workout, which was hours after Callaway was cited, but not arrested in a nearby town of Strongsville, OH, for driving with a suspended license and a small amount of marijuana in his car.

Something he did not tell anyone about.

We recapped the incident and wondered, if Callaway isn’t about to be out of chances already with his new team.

Callaway’s story took up the first approximate 10 minutes of the show. And on the episode, both coach Hue Jackson (above) and offensive coordinator Todd Haley could sense something is wrong with Callaway, as his body language and ineffective play were going on that day.

Then, came the most intriguing and riveting part of entire show, as GM John Dorsey and Jackson met with Callaway after the news media found out about the traffic citations and told the team.

Dorsey was upset, as much with Callaway not telling them, as anything, but it was Jackson, who cut to the chase on Callaway’s expected behavior accountability in the future. “If you’re lying to me, I’ll have your ass,” he told the rookie.

Later in the episode, Jackson had Callaway stand up and apologize to the entire team.

And, then, as we wrote about Tuesday morning, when “Hard Knocks” filmed during the Browns opening preseason game with the Giants, you got more insight into Callaway playing the entire four quarters and 57 snaps of action. Callaway excelled during the game, including a catch and run touchdown from Baker Mayfield in the fourth quarter.

Again, Jackson, while mic’ed up for the show, was shown standing and putting his arm around Callaway in the fourth quarter and telling him that he believes in him.

Time will tell, if Callaway will continue to do the right things and stay out of trouble

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