Nailbiter endings and some exceptional highlights, some of which impacted the record book have helped the NFL buck a trend in audience viewership. Ratings are up for the first time in three seasons, much of it due to the excitement on the field.
Arguably the current season is only five weeks old, but already the gridiron drama has been gripping with fewer blowouts and storybook endings, enough to boost overall NFL ratings by three percent. That may not seem much, but compared to the 9.7 percent plummet of eyeballs from last season and the eight percent decline the season before that, the league has plenty to crow about this year.
Take the 2017 sad-sack Cleveland Browns, which after a poor start, have discovered a winning culture with rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield helming an overtime victory on Sunday. It's the third time this season that the Browns needed extra time to finish the game. Adding to the excitement has been the fact that at least one game per week has gone into overtime thus far, unprecedented ever since the tie-breaking 10-minute quarter was added into the rulebook in 1974.
Besides Mayfield, rookie quarterbacks had a banner week with newcomers like the Bills' Josh Allen, the Jets' Sam Darnold and the Cardinals' Josh Rowen all beat their opposition. Rookie pivots responsible for four wins in the same week is a phenomenon that's never happened since the AFL-NFL merger, making the future of the league look very promising when it comes to new blood in the league.
Then, there are the veterans who have helmed a series of turnarounds was the case with the New England Patriots. After experiencing a shaky start once the regular season began, the Pats finally found their rhythm last Thursday as star pivot Tom Brady threw his 500th touchdown in the squad's 38-24 win over the Indianapolis Colts. The Saints, meanwhile are faring better as quarterback Drew Brees surpassed the record for all-time passing yardage while beating Washington 43-19 on Monday. He's also one TD away from hitting the same marker Brady currently enjoys.
And there's still 12 weeks left. Stay tuned, reinforce your beer caddy, and get an extra grip on your recliner; it could still get even wilder.