Review: ‘Football scores big on Sunday’

NBC, CBS nab huge ratings

The undefeated run of the New England Patriots is producing big ratings for the NFL this fall, and a surprisingly close contest featuring the team on Sunday night scored a touchdown for NBC.

On a night when CBS also benefited from National Football League action — getting a nearly hourlong overrun to kick off primetime — and ABC remained potent with its entertainment lineup, the Peacock towered over the competition with the Patriots’ surprisingly narrow 31-28 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles.

Nielsen will issue national ratings for the game today, but based on results on NBC’s affiliates, the game is projected to deliver roughly an 8.8 rating in adults 18-49 and about 22.5 million viewers overall from 8:25-11:35 p.m. ET. The previous best delivery for “Sunday Night Football” this season was a 7.6 rating in the demo and 19.1 million viewers for the Dallas-Chicago matchup on Sept. 23.

The best for any Sunday night game on NBC over the past two seasons was the 8.8 rating/22 share in 18-49 and 22.6 million viewers overall for the Indianapolis Colts-New York Giants matchup in September 2006.

This week’s game, in which hugely favored New England scored a late touchdown to defeat Philadelphia, will stand as the week’s No. 1 program and is the Peacock’s top-rated telecast of 2007.

The Patriots, vying to become the first undefeated NFL team in 35 years, have been helping juice the ratings whenever they play. Their games against the Indianapolis Colts and Dallas Cowboys on CBS stand as the season’s two highest-rated games. Even a blowout 56-10 victory over the Buffalo Bills on Nov. 18 delivered good ratings for the Peacock.

The Patriots are also expected to drive the ratings for ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” next week when they put their 11-0 record on the line at Baltimore against the Ravens, and their Dec. 9 afternoon game against the Pittsburgh Steelers should deliver big ratings for CBS.

Elsewhere on the final Sunday of the November sweep, the conclusion of the Chicago-Denver NFL game could average roughly an 8.5 rating among adults 18-49 for its primetime portion on CBS — roughly matching what the other broadcast nets did combined in the 7 o’clock hour.

Net stuck with its regular lineup for the rest of the night, meaning “60 Minutes” (roughly 3.9/9, 15.5 million), “Amazing Race” (roughly 3.5/8, 12.2 million) and “Cold Case” (roughly 3.1/7, 12.3 million) all started nearly an hour late in most of the country.

ABC was overshadowed by football on the night but logged its largest overall Sunday audience since February (14.1 million).

“Desperate Housewives” (projected 7.0/15 in 18-49, 18.7 million viewers overall from 9 to 10:02 p.m.) led the way, drawing numbers in line with its recent averages despite the tough football competish. “Brothers & Sisters” (projected 4.7/11 in 18-49, 12.2 million viewers overall) and “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” (5.0/11 in 18-49 and 14.9 million viewers) were also solid for the Alphabet, with the latter celebrating its 100th episode.

Fox’s male-skewing animated lineup held up pretty well, led by “Family Guy” (prelim 4.7/10 in 18-49, 9.6 million viewers overall) and “The Simpsons” (prelim 4.1/10 in 18-49, 9.0 million viewers).

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