The NFL's biggest reason for its declining TV ratings has passed, so there are no more excuses

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Through nine weeks of NFL games, TV ratings have seen a dramatic decrease from 2015.

After another down week in Week 9, Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio reported that 26 of 27 2016 primetime games have seen a decrease from 2015.

There's been a great deal of hand-wringing over the reason for the ratings decline. Perhaps the most common theory has been the all-consuming presidential election distracting fans from the game. This was even asserted by the league itself, which sent a memo to team owners saying that ratings have dropped because of "unprecedented interest" in the election. They added that ratings typically drop in election years.

However, with the presidential election now over, the NFL is going to truly find out the state of the league.

Ratings might not rebound immediately; the aftermath of Donald Trump's win could linger for several more weeks. However, if there was a week for the NFL to make a comeback with the conclusion of the election, it would be Week 10.

NFL Power Rankings: Week 10
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NFL Power Rankings: Week 10

32. Browns (0-9)
Last Week: 32

The Browns are closing in on one calendar year since their last victory. At this point, going 0-16, and grabbing the draft's No. 1 overall pick, is probably their best course of action.

(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

31. 49ers (1-7)
Last Week: 31

That's seven straight losses now for San Francisco, despite a strong performance from Colin Kaepernick. His play was encouraging, but it's merely in an audition for other teams next year.

(Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)

30. Jets (3-6)
Last Week: 28

The Jets were on the verge of heading into overtime after coming back to tie the Dolphins late in the fourth -- until they allowed a game-winning 96-yard return touchdown on the ensuing kickoff. With their playoff hopes all but gone, it's now time for the Jets to look toward the future -- which could be without several of this team's key pieces.

(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

29. Jaguars (2-6)
Last Week: 30

They competed against a tough opponent in Kansas City, but the Jags weren't able to muster up enough offense to earn their third win. Anything is possible in the lowly AFC North, but Jacksonville is going to need a major turnaround in the second half to salvage a decent season.

(AP Photo/Ed Zurga)

28. Bears (2-6)
Last Week: 29

Can Jay Cutler stay enthusiastic enough to keep the Bears engaged through the second half? And of equal importance: Are the Bears good enough to make a late season push?

(AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

27. Ravens (4-4)
Last Week: 25

Baltimore has dropped back to .500 after a 3-0 start, but have the benefit of playing Cleveland in Week 10. With Pittsburgh and Cincinnati struggling, the door has been left open for the Ravens to sneak into the postseason, and a win this week would put them a step ahead.

(Photo by Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports via Reuters)

26. Rams (3-6)
Last Week: 23

The Rams supposedly won't turn to Jared Goff until they're out of playoff contention. Said another way: It won't be long until we get to see the No. 1 overall pick.

(Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

25. Saints (4-4)
Last Week: 26

New Orleans beat up on a lesser opponent in San Francisco, but the true tests awaits next week against Denver. A win could keep the Saints within striking distance of Atlanta, although the Falcons only appear to be getting stronger.

(AP Photo/D. Ross Cameron)

24. Dolphins (4-4)
Last Week: 27

Miami has rebounded nicely from a slow start, evening their record back at 4-4 with a last-minute win over the Jets. Some more winnable games await the Dolphins in the coming weeks, and with some luck, they could perhaps make an unlikely second-half push toward a Wild Card.

(AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

23. Buccaneers (3-5)
Last Week: 21

Tampa got smoked at home in prime time by a superior team in the Falcons, and lost Jameis Winston due to injury in garbage time. Winston has practiced this week, and with a winnable game against the Bears looming, the Buccaneers will need him.

(Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

22. Titans (4-5)
Last Week: 20

Tennessee continued alternating wins and losses on Sunday against a resurgent Chargers team, but posted 35 points while Marcus Mariota threw for more than 300 yards. They'll face another tough test in going against the Packers next week before a rematch with the Colts in a crucial divisional battle.

(Photo by Chris Williams/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

21. Colts (4-5)
Last Week: 24

The Colts' bye week comes at an inopportune time, with the team fresh off its best win of the season. Still, the victory over Green Bay was encouraging, and could be a pivotal moment of the Colts' season.

(Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

20. Panthers (3-5)
Last Week: 22

That's two straight wins now for the Panthers, but the real test comes next week, against the most quietly hot team in football: Kansas City.

(Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

19. Bengals (3-4-1)
Last Week: 19

Cincy returns from its bye week to take on a Giants team that, while winning, has looked vulnerable of late. In the Bengals' Week 1 trip to MetLife Stadium against the Jets, they came away victorious. They'll look for similar results in Week 10.

(AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

18. Redskins (4-3-1)
Last Week: 15

Washington takes on the Vikings at the best possible time, with Minnesota losing three straight and the Skins well-rested off a bye. They'll need a win to keep up with the rest of the NFC East, and there's a chance they get it.

(Photo by Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images)

17. Texans (5-3)
Last Week: 14

Houston has scored just 22 points over its last two games, but will go up against a Jacksonville team in Week 10 that ranks 25th in points allowed per game.

(Photo by Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

16. Eagles (4-4)
Last Week: 11

The Eagles have now lost four of their last five, and now take on a Falcons team that's won six of eight since a Week 1 loss. The Eagles need a win to stay on pace in the division, but each week Atlanta appears to be a more and more formidable opponent.

(Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

15. Chargers (4-5)
Last Week: 18

The Chargers have no won three of their last four, and host the Dolphins before a Week 11 bye. Melvin Gordon, who now leads the NFL with 11 total touchdowns, will look to lead the way against a Dolphins defense that's allowed the fourth-most rushing yards in 2016.

(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

14. Giants (5-3)
Last Week: 16

For the second game in a row, the Giants squeaked out a win despite some shaky play in the closing minutes. The pair of victories, though, has them in spot to battle for a playoff position, and solid play against the Bengals on Monday Night Football would give them a 6-3 record.

(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

13. Steelers (4-4)
Last Week: 10

Ben Roethlisberger returned early from knee surgery, but, like the rest of the Steelers team, struggled mightily. With as many offensive weapons as Pittsburgh has, they're better than a 4-4 record on paper. But can they rebound in the second half?

(AP Photo/Nick Wass)

12. Bills (4-5)
Last Week: 13

Buffalo continues to compete with tough competition, but fell just short on the final play in Week 9 against Seattle. Their third straight loss brings them down to 4-4 entering their bye.

(Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

11. Cardinals (3-4-1)
Last Week: 12

Despite their first-half struggles, Arizona still has a chance to challenge Seattle for the division in the second half of the season. That journey will begin this week against the 49ers, who haven't won since Week 1.

(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

10. Vikings (5-3)
Last Week: 6

After an undefeated start, Sam Bradford's Vikings are now losers of their last three. Their remaining schedule isn't the easiest, but with strong defensive play over the last two months, the Vikings should make it out as a playoff team.

(Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports via Reuters)

9. Packers (4-4)
Last Week: 5

Despite pedestrian play from Aaron Rodgers, the Packers are still in the mix in the AFC North, but the Vikings' hot start and a red-hot Lions team aren't making it easy.

(Photo by Jeffrey Brown/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

8. Lions (5-4)
Last Week: 17

That's now four wins in their last five games after knocking off Minnesota in overtime, and all of a sudden, the Lions are looking like a tough opponent. They'll have a bye week to rest before hosting Jacksonville in Week 11.

(Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports via Reuters)

7. Broncos (6-3)
Last Week: 3

Denver's defense may be the best in the league, but against offensively explosive teams like Oakland, they'll face their share of struggles. They're in good position moving forward, but their offense will need a bit of figuring-out between now and the postseason.

(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

6. Falcons (6-3)
Last Week: 9

When they were 6-3 last season, Atlanta closed out the year with five losses over their last seven games. This time around, though, they seem to be hitting their stride.

(Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images)

5. Seahawks (5-2-1)
Last Week: 7

Seattle eked out a close win at home against the Bills on Monday night, keeping its undefeated home record in tact and stretching its NFC West lead even further.

(AP Photo/John Froschauer)

4. Chiefs (6-2)
Last Week: 4

Quietly, the Chiefs have won 16 of their last 20 regular season games and are 4-0 at Arrowhead in 2016. They travel to Charlotte this Sunday to take on a Panthers team that's caught fire recently, but a Chiefs defense that's allowed less than 19 points per game this year should pull through.

(AP Photo/Ed Zurga)

3. Raiders (7-2)
Last Week: 8

So, this is really happening, huh? The Raiders, now at 7-2, and fresh off beating the Broncos in primetime, have the second-best record in the AFC as we enter Week 10. The combination of a dominant offensive line, great quarterback play and an assortment of weapons have given the Raiders one of the most explosive offenses in football, while the defense is beginning to take shape.

(AP Photo/Ben Margot)

2. Cowboys (7-1)
Last Week: 2

The 7-1 Cowboys are cruising toward a playoff spot, boasting the No. 3 offense in the league in terms of yardage, while the defense has quietly exceeded expectations. Jerry Jones can belabor all he wants, but Tony Romo has lost his starting job.

(AP Photo/David Richard)

1. Patriots (7-1)
Last Week: 1

The class of the NFL is starting to separate itself from the pack as we enter the season's second half, but the Patriots sit comfortably above everybody else. A Super Bowl 49 rematch against the Seahawks awaits on Sunday night, but their next tough matchup doesn't pop up until Dec. 18 against Denver.

(Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)


Though it kicks off with a lopsided Thursday night game between the 4-4 Ravens and winless Browns, the Sunday slate has several intriguing matchups, highlighted by a Super Bowl 49 rematch between the Seahawks and Patriots. That game is preceded by a Cowboys-Steelers afternoon showdown and is followed by the New York Giants playing in primetime on Monday night.

Some have surmised that the NFL's TV ratings have fallen because of a drop in quality of play. While there aren't stats to back this up, a less-than-thrilling schedule, often featuring middling teams in primetime has not, optically, done the NFL many favors. Week 10 finally presents competitive, big-market, star-studded teams playing in the first post-election weekend.

If ratings don't rebound, at least slightly, it could be indicative of deeper problems with the NFL. Speaking from The New York Times' DealBook conference on Thursday, commissioner Roger Goodell suggested a few things that could be hurting the league. According to Ken Belson of the Times, Goodell acknowledged the possible need for fewer commercials and potential over-saturation of games (something Mark Cuban once predicted).

As the Washington Post's Matt Bonesteel detailed, the length of games, particularly with the high number of commercials, could also be hurting viewing audiences. The NFL could consider how better to rearrange the timing of ads to keep viewers engaged.

However, these theories come second to the distraction of the election, which the NFL specifically pointed to. The election is now over, and if ratings don't begin to creep up in a promising week, the NFL may need to take a deeper look into why Americans are turning off football games.

The best pictures from NFL Week 9
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The best pictures from NFL Week 9
OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 06: Latavius Murray #28 of the Oakland Raiders carries the ball during the second quarter against the Denver Broncos at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on November 6, 2016 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - NOVEMBER 6: Trae Waynes #26 of the Minnesota Vikings bats the ball away from Marvin Jones #11 of the Detroit Lions during the fourth quarter of the game on November 6, 2016 at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - NOVEMBER 6: Golden Tate #15 of the Detroit Lions leaps into the end zone for the go ahead touchdown while being tackled by Andrew Sendejo #34 of the Minnesota Vikings during overtime on November 6, 2016 at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
San Diego Chargers cornerback Brandon Flowers (24) intercepts a pass intended for Tennessee Titans wide receiver Kendall Wright (13) during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 6, 2016, in San Diego. Flowers scored a touchdown on the play. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Eli Rogers is unable to hold onto a pass-attempt in the second half of an NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens, Sunday, Nov. 6, 2016, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Allen Robinson (15) leaps for but cannot catch the ball during the first half of an NFL football game against the Kansas City Chiefs in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Nov. 6, 2016. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown (84) is tackled by Baltimore Ravens free safety Lardarius Webb (21) and strong safety Eric Weddle while rushing the ball in the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 6, 2016, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Gail Burton)
Philadelphia Eagles middle linebacker Jordan Hicks (58) and defensive back Jaylen Watkins (26) break up a pass in the end zone intended for New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham (13) during the third quarter of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 6, 2016, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
Nov 6, 2016; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins defensive tackle Jordan Phillips (97) leaps over New York Jets wide receiver Robby Anderson (11) after making an interception during the second half at Hard Rock Stadium. The Dolphins won 27-23. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Los Angeles Rams quarterback Case Keenum, right, reacts after being sacked by Carolina Panthers defensive end Mario Addison, bottom left, during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 6, 2016, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ryan Kang)
New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham (13) catches a pass for a touchdown as he is hit by Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Leodis McKelvin (21) during the second quarter of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 6, 2016, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

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