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Small Market Roundtable, Week 5 - Prime-Time Scheduling

Today the SBN Small Market Roundtable continues over at the Daily Norseman, where the Gonz tackles the issue of small market teams and their seeming inability to land prime-time games. Take a gander over at his site, it's yet another stellar installment of this roundtable. Previous topics include relocation, stadiums, free agency, and media coverage.

I won't spoil the ending for you, but I like Gonzo believe that the size of the market isn't necessarily the deciding factor for getting a night game in the NFL. To me, the deciding factor is whether or not a storyline can be pried out of the two teams' rosters. It helps if the teams were moderately successful the year before, but ultimately fans are drawn to night games based on storylines. I'll use the Bills' three prime-time appearances the last three seasons (including the 2007 season) as examples.

Coming off of a 2004 season in which the Bills nearly made the playoffs, the team was scheduled with two Sunday Night appearances in the '05 campaign - at New England and a home contest against Denver. Storylines were prominent in the New England contest - could the Bills topple the AFC East beasts post-Drew Bledsoe? The Denver game was a bit different, but there was a storyline - could the "up and coming" Bills topple the Broncos, an AFC power and likely fighting for home-field advantage, late in the season on Sunday night?

Obviously Buffalo struggled in the 2005 season (losing both of their prime-time contests), and thus as a result did not have a night game during last season's surprise 7-9 run. Surprise! Buffalo's got a Monday Night game this season against a team (Dallas) coached by Wade Phillips, the last coach to lead the Bills to the playoffs. That's a pretty good storyline, especially when you consider the Buffalo/Dallas Super Bowl history.

The NFL wants one thing out of their prime-time games: marketability. Sure, you'll have the random crappy team in a game once in a while, but it's a good bet that either the team was at least marginally good the year before or there is a storyline to be had out of the game. Small market teams don't have as much marketability as big-market teams, but there isn't much discrimination - with so much parity in the NFL, there is a storyline to be had in pretty much any matchup you can imagine.

That's it for my comments this week. Be sure to check out the rest of the installments linked above - the SBN Small Market Roundtable has been an interesting exercise to date, and I think most of you will enjoy this series. Buffalo Rumblings will be the next host of the Roundtable next Wednesday, with the topic being Revenue Sharing.

Note: This will very likely be my only posting of the day, as I will be undergoing minor surgery later on this morning. We will return to regularly scheduled programming tomorrow.