Bulls of the week
Lamar Jackson and the underrated Baltimore Ravens are playing in a bull market and looking like Super Bowl contenders after another impressive win this week on Thursday Night Football.
The Ravens are now the NFL’s second team to eight wins (8-3). The Philadelphia Eagles (8-1) continue to set the pace for the NFL, one game ahead of the 7-2 Detroit Lions. The Chiefs of the AFC West are the NFL’s only other seven-win team.
Meanwhile, the Denver Nuggets — the reigning Larry O’Brien Trophy holders — are hot to trot and tied at the top of the NBA with the Boston Celtics as 9-2 teams. Next in line are the Dallas Mavericks at 9-3.
And in the NHL, the Vancouver Canucks continue to skate with the best despite a Thursday loss to the surging Calgary Flames. The Canucks are still on the podium of the league’s three best teams at 25 points with a 12-4-1 record, behind only the 13-3-1 Vegas Golden Knights (27 points) and the 12-1-2 Boston Bruins (26). That’s still very much found money for the Canucks.
And don’t look now, but the Edmonton Oilers have won three in a row, two of which have come after replacing head coach Jay Woodcroft and assistant coach Dave Manson with rookie NHL head coach Chris Knoblauch — Connor McDavid’s OHL bench boss a decade ago in Erie — and Paul Coffey.
Yet the biggest winner in the business of sport this week was sport TV, especially last Saturday in Canada when an NHL doubleheader and the CFL’s divisional finals combined to attract average national audiences of more than five million viewers over two broadcast windows that night.
The move to Saturday for the Grey Cup playoffs was rewarded with a spike of 43 per cent more viewers year-over-year; including average national audiences of 899,000 in English and another 449,000 in French for the Montreal Alouettes’ surprising 38-17 romp over the defending Cup-champion Toronto Argonauts and 1.05 million for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ victory over the B.C. Lions.
That came alongside average viewership of 2.05 million and 746,000, respectively, for the Hockey Night In Canada doubleheader. That’s a good night for the various rights-holders, merchandisers and licensees, and sports bars and restaurants, not to mention the teams involved.
Bears of the week
On the downside, Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals are in trouble after that 34-20 loss to the underrated Baltimore Ravens on Thursday Night Football.
The Bengals, two years removed from a Super Bowl appearance, are now 5-5 with seven games left.
Quarterback Burrow injured his wrist with the Bengals up 10-7 and looks like he’ll miss some games.
With former University of Washington QB Jake Browning, who threw his first NFL completion on Thursday, now at the helm, it’s a huge ask for the Bengals to even get into the playoffs as they stare at the NFL’s hardest schedule down the stretch.
Yet in the worst-kept secret in North American pro sports, the biggest loss suffered this week is that by baseball fans in Oakland after MLB’s Board of Governors voted officially and unanimously to allow the Athletics to relocate to Las Vegas in 2028.
That will make the A’s the second Oakland franchise to move to Nevada (the NFL Raiders did so in 2020) and the third to relocate overall since the NBA’s Golden State Warriors hopped across the bay to downtown San Francisco in 2019.
We’ve said it before, but it’s an unprecedented dismantling of a once-proud and strong blue-collar sport market in Oakland, Calif.
Tom Mayenknecht is the host of The Sport Market on Sportsnet 650 on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Vancouver-based sport business commentator and principal in Emblematica Brand Builders provides a behind-the-scenes look at the sport business stories that matter most to fans. Follow Mayenknecht at: twitter.com/TheSportMarket.
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