Let’s be honest, we can’t get enough football here in America. Football is a cultural institution beloved by millions across the country. The game is played, watched, and followed at the high school, college, and professional level more than any other sport, and the Super Bowl has been the television event of the year for two decades now. Thus, it wasn’t much of a surprise when the NFL flexed its muscle and first made Thursday Night Football a reality.
Thursday Night Football came into existence much later than its spiritual predecessor, Monday Night Football. Whereas MNF started in 1970, TNF didn’t begin until 2006. It was originally designed to be a late-season event only, highlighting the push for the playoffs with teams in playoff contention duking it out. From 2006 to 2011, Thursday Night Football did not encompass the entire season, just the tail end of it. However, from 2012 onward, Thursday Night Football has taken place throughout most of the year, although there are some key exceptions.
Although some NFL season openers have taken place on Thursday night, they are not considered Thursday Night Football games. The NFL Kickoff Game is its own animal, and that game is included in the Sunday Night Football package. That means Week 1 games don’t count in TNF betting trends and records.
Additionally, Thanksgiving games no longer count as Thursday Night Football Games. From 2006 to 2011, games on Thanksgiving night were part of the package, as teams jockeyed for entrance into the postseason. However, that stopped in 2012, and those games are also now part of the Sunday Night Football rights package.
Finally, because of potential playoff ramifications, there is no Thursday Night Football in Week 17. There are no primetime games at all in Week 17, as the NFL has teams play at one of two times in the afternoon in order to avoid the shenanigans and gamesmanship that has plagued other leagues in similar scenarios.
Thursday Night Football Broadcast Information
Earlier this year, the Thursday Night Football rights package went up for bid. FOX and ABC/ESPN both made bids for the package, but it was FOX’s bid that won out. The NFL announced that FOX had won the bidding on January 31, 2018, and they will have the broadcasting rights for the next five seasons. It didn’t come cheap though. Reportedly, FOX is forking over $60 million per game for the duration of the contract, which would make the deal worth over $3 billion for the NFL. FOX has shown their commitment to the investment by placing their top broadcasting team of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman on the broadcasts, with Erin Andrews as the sideline reporter.
For the first eight seasons of its life, Thursday Night Football was virtually an NFL Network exclusive. The NFL knew that the best way to sell its own network was to put its premium product on it. That would force cable providers to pay the fees the NFL was looking for in order to avoid customers calling to complain that they didn’t get the station.
In 2014, things started to change. The NFL made the decision to partner with CBS to widen Thursday Night Football’s audience. Games would be broadcast on both NFL Network and CBS, and this arrangement lasted until 2015.
The last two seasons brought together a plethora of Thursday Night Football broadcasters. CBS, NBC, and the NFL Network split broadcasting duties, and that was quickly deemed as not optimal. Too many fans were hurriedly searching for the game prior to kickoff, so the decision was made to have one station broadcast.
Week 15 Thursday Night Football
Chargers at Chiefs
The final Thursday Night Football broadcast of the year might turn out to be the best as the Kansas City Chiefs look to hold on to their AFC West lead against the surging Los Angeles Chargers.
Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes has been the talk of the season, but Chargers’ quarterback Phillip Rivers has been great as well this year.
Look for a lot of points in this one as two strong offenses will go toe-to-toe for the AFC West lead.
Kansas City Chiefs -3.5
Los Angeles Chargers +3.5
2018 Thursday Night Football Schedule
Week 1: Atlanta Falcons at Philadelphia Eagles (Sept. 6) on NBC
Week 2: Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals (Sept. 13) on NFL Network
Week 3: New York Jets at Cleveland Browns (Sept. 20) on NFL Network
Week 4: Minnesota Vikings at Los Angeles Rams (Sept. 27) on FOX and NFL Network
Week 5: Indianapolis Colts at New England Patriots (Oct. 4) on FOX and NFL Network
Week 6: Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants (Oct. 11) on FOX and NFL Network
Week 7: Denver Broncos at Arizona Cardinals (Oct. 18) on FOX and NFL Network
Week 8: Miami Dolphins at Houston Texans (Oct. 25) on FOX and NFL Network
Week 9: Oakland Raiders at San Francisco 49ers (Nov. 1) on FOX and NFL Network
Week 10: Carolina Panthers at Pittsburgh Steelers (Nov. 8) on FOX and NFL Network
Week 11: Green Bay Packers at Seattle Seahawks (Nov. 15) on FOX and NFL Network
Week 12: Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints (Nov. 22) on FOX and NFL Network
Week 13: New Orleans Saints at Dallas Cowboys (Nov. 29) on FOX and NFL Network
Week 14: Jacksonville Jaguars at Tennessee Titans (Dec. 6) on FOX and NFL Network
Week 15: Los Angeles Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs (Dec. 13) on FOX and NFL Network
Thursday Night Football Betting Strategies
One of the most underrated betting strategies around is to bet the under on Thursday Night Football. Over the last three seasons, the under is 26-18 in Thursday Night Football games. Under was a blistering hot 10-5 in both 2015 and 2016, before cooling off with a 6-8 record last year.
It makes sense for the under to hit. Typically, the two teams taking part in Thursday Night Football have had just three days of full rest prior to the game. That means teams are a little more banged up than usual, and the coaching staff doesn’t have the time to break down tape and scheme like they do in a normal week. The more vanilla game plans are easier for defenses to key on and easier to snuff out.
Betting a side on Thursday Night Football has been a bit more difficult. The favorite and the underdog split covers during the 2015 and 2017 seasons, but favorites won in a big way in 2016. That season favorites went 11-4 ATS.
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