Wild-card weekend racks up big numbers, despite only one close game

The ratings for super wild-card weekend were stellar, even if the games weren't.

Browns-Texans on NBC, which resulted in a 45-14 Houston win, averaged 29 million viewers. Saturday night's Dolphins-Chiefs game, a 26-7 margin, averaged 23 million viewers on Peacock.

On Sunday, the Packers-Cowboys game on Fox — which was over before halftime — averaged 40 million. Rams-Lions on NBC in the Sunday night window generated 35.8 million average viewers.

Monday's unexpected doubleheader had 31 million watch Steelers-Bills on CBS (31-17), and 28.6 million tuned in to ABC, ESPN, and ESPN2 for Eagles-Buccaneers (32-9).

Last year, Giants-Vikings on Fox had the biggest audience, with 33.2 million viewers. That's far less than the January 2024 wild-card high-water mark.

Other wild-card games in January 2023 generated 30.87 million (Dolphins-Bills), 27.46 million (Seahawks-49ers), 20.6 million (Chargers-Jaguars), 26.87 million (Ravens-Bengals), and 30.1 million (Cowboys-Buccaneers).

Somewhat surprisingly, the Saturday night Peacock game between Miami and Kansas City drew more viewers than last year's Saturday night NBC game between L.A. and Jacksonville.

Bottom line? First, the Cowboys deliver. Second, the late Monday afternoon game between the Steelers and Bills drew more viewers than last year's 1:00 p.m. ET Sunday game.

That could make the NFL shifting to two games on Saturday, two games on Sunday, and two games on Monday, especially if wild-card weekend lands on the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. Many seem to prefer three days of doubleheaders as opposed to a 10-hour Sunday marathon with three games, back to back to back.