CONFIRMED: Protection still exists. But looking at my Week 4 roundup, I might have found it hard to believe Fox would have protected Giants-Lions. The Giants were only 2-2 at the time and the Lions were similar. Panthers-Packers would have been a more likely protection for Fox.
Other projected protections: Bucs-Redskins Week 12; Jaguars-Colts and maybe Seahawks-Eagles Week 13; Steelers-Patriots and either Cowboys-Lions, Bucs-Texans, or Cardinals-Seahawks Week 14; Jaguars-Steelers and either Seahawks-Panthers or Eagles-Cowboys Week 15; Ravens-Seahawks and Packers-Bears Week 16; and Steelers-Ravens or Titans-Colts, and Cowboys-Redskins or Packers-Lions, Week 17.
NBC has a point when they note that the Bills are on fire. But the Pats are too far on another level for it to look competitive, in the game or the AFC East. NBC also notes that the Pats played in the two highest-rated games this season – ignoring that the Colts and Cowboys games were also two of the most-hyped, most-important games this season. It reminds me of when Sports Media Watch became so fixated with its “Cowboys were more responsible for Pats-Cowboys rating than the actual quality of the teams” hypothesis that it actually picked a lower rating for Pats-Colts, underestimating the NFL audience and failing to note that the NFL is unlike any other sports league. NBC (and the NFL) may be falling into the same trap.
The Week 10 College Football Rankings will be here shortly. They do not include ESPN’s Tuesday and Wednesday games. I will also update the Web site at the same time to include the NFL Lineal Title change.