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Will Patriots-Seahawks save the 2016 NFL season?

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NFL: Seattle Seahawks at New England Patriots Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

It’s safe to say that the Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots’ Week 10 Sunday night game was the most anticipated of the 2016 NFL season so far. Leading up to it, the game already featured just about anything you could ask for in a matchup:

  • Carroll v Belichick
  • Wilson v Brady
  • Graham v Gronk
  • Baldwin v Edelman
  • Wilson v Butler
  • Avril v Brady
  • Clark v Brady
  • Wilson v his offensive line
  • Wagner, Chancellor, Thomas, Sherman, etc v Gronk
  • So on...

But perhaps the two most important things leading up to this game were: A) the NFL’s declining ratings amid a flurry of criticisms regarding player safety, domestic violence scandals, protests that used the national anthem ceremony to draw attention, and a flurry of yellow flags that slowed the game down and made it less interesting to watch and B) the most nightmarish presidential campaign of our generation. The mood for tens of millions of Americans has been notably depressed and well-documented, so would anyone tune in for a silly football game?

Yes.

Seahawks-Pats had an overnight rating of 14.3, the highest on Sunday Night Football in five years, as Seattle prevailed 31-24. Ratings have been down about 10% this season based on where they were a year ago, but not only were they up on Sunday night, but the Dallas Cowboys-Pittsburgh Steelers game in the afternoon drew a rating of 17.8, doing even better than Seattle-New England.

Best of all, both of those games featured back-and-forth football, excellent plays, and almost no interference from the refs. How could this effect things moving forward?

It’ll be interesting to see now if the NFL quietly instructs its crews to let the players play a bit more. To let them tussle and allow a little more contact. This could be beneficial to the Seahawks because they are known for using every advantage possible in the secondary, but it could also hurt them since Seattle was once again abused on a potential “pick” play by the Patriots.

Did the game “save” the season? Maybe that’s a little too dramatic but overall, a well-played game in front of the biggest SNF audience since 2011 should only help propel NFL momentum into next week.

The Seahawks are scheduled to have one more SNF game, Week 13 vs the Carolina Panthers, but is Cam Newton-vs-Russell Wilson enough of a sell to not flex out the 3-6 Panthers?

I’d watch it.