Skip to main content

The Russell Wilson experiment with the Denver Broncos has failed miserably. Rock bottom came Christmas Day when the Broncos were embarrassed in a 51-14 loss to the Los Angeles Rams. The game was the last for first-year coach Nathaniel Hackett, who was fired after the miserable outing.

Meanwhile, in Boston, Jayson Tatum and the Boston Celtics took on Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks in a rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference Semifinals. Tatum racked up 41 points as the Celtics cruised to a 139-118 victory. While Tatum and the Greek Freak, two of the NBA’s biggest stars, went head-to-head, most of the nation’s eyes were on a stumbling Russell.

Russell Wilson and the Broncos drew more than three times the viewers than Jayson Tatum and the Celtics

Michael Hoecht of the Los Angeles Rams sacks Russell Wilson of the Denver Broncos during the third quarter at SoFi Stadium on December 25, 2022, in Inglewood, California. | Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images.

Christmas falling on a Sunday was not good news for the NBA, and it showed. Five NBA games, all hand-picked specifically for the holiday, were on tap. Most of the NFL schedule was played Saturday, but there were three leftovers for Sunday.

Of those three, only the first game between the Green Bay Packers and the Miami Dolphins had any real appeal. The Broncos and Rams game was appealing at the beginning of the season. Tom Brady and the disappointing Tampa Bay Buccaneers played at the even more disappointing Arizona Cardinals in the nightcap.

Broncos vs. Rams was supposed to be a matchup of the defending Super Bowl champs against the new-look Broncos with Wilson under center. A Super Bowl champion, Wilson was supposed to help the Broncos get over the hump and get back into the postseason. It’s been nothing but a disaster in Denver.

The Broncos are 4-11 and the banged-up Rams are 5-10. The battle of the two underachieving teams was in the same time slot as Celtics vs. Bucks, the top two teams in the Eastern Conference. The television ratings weren’t even close. The horrendous Broncos/Rams game drew nearly four times the viewers than Bucks/Celtics had.

Christmas Day proved once again that NFL is king


When Did NBA Christmas Day Games Become a Tradition?

The NFL will likely dominate the TV ratings simply because there are just 17 regular-season games compared to the NBA’s 82. Every game means something. The Celtics could go on a six-game losing streak and still be the top seed in the playoffs. That won’t happen in the NFL.

That theory, however, was somewhat debunked on Christmas. While it was still one of 17 regular-season games, Denver vs. LA was a matchup between two teams going absolutely nowhere. The game meant nothing as far as postseason hopes were concerned. Despite its meaningless label, that game drew 22.57 million viewers, according to NFL reporter Ari Meirov. The Celtics/Bucks game had 6.03 million people watching.

Broncos/Rams wasn’t even the most-viewed NFL game in the holiday. Celtics/Bucks was the top-rated NBA game.

The Packers/Dolphins game, played at 1 p.m. Eastern brought in 25.92 million viewers. Even the ugly matchup between the Buccaneers and the Arizona Cardinals, who were down to their third-string quarterback, had 17.15 million watching.

A LeBron James vs. Luka Doncic meeting at 2:20 p.m. tallied 4.33 million views. That was the third-best of the five NBA games. The Memphis Grizzlies vs. Golden State Warriors matchup had 4.70 million.

Christmas on a Sunday was expected to be a disaster for the NBA, and Russell Wilson proved it.