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Christmas is typically the unofficial beginning of the NBA season. It’s when multiple games hit center stage and are usually filled with marquee matchups. This year, such is the case, as five games occur throughout the day, beginning at noon Eastern.

The Boston Celtics host the Milwaukee Bucks in a rematch of last year’s wild Eastern Conference Semifinals. LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers travel to take on Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks. The Philadelphia 76ers, Golden State Warriors, and Phoenix Suns also get to shine on the holiday. The one downfall for the NBA this year is Christmas falling on a Sunday.

The NFL will steal the NBA spotlight with Christmas falling on a Sunday

Christmas branding on the basketball stanchion prior to an NBA game between the Boston Celtics and the Toronto Raptors at Scotiabank Arena on December 25, 2019, in Toronto, Canada. | Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images.

There is no question that the NFL is king when it comes to American sports. Thats’ not a good thing for the NBA, with Christmas falling on a Sunday.

While most of the NFL’s Week 16 games will take place on Saturday, there will be three games played Sunday, beginning at 1 p.m. While the three games are far from earth-shattering, they are still likely to blow the doors off solid NBA matchups.

The three NFL games have very little appeal. Two have minor playoff implications. The other looked like it could be a possible Super Bowl matchup during the preseason. Instead, it’s a meeting of two teams with no playoff hopes.

The first football game on Christmas has the Green Bay Packers traveling to face the Miami Dolphins at 1 p.m. The Packers have been one of the league’s biggest disappointments, while the Dolphins have been a surprise with their potent offensive attack.

At 4:30, the Denver Broncos square off against the Los Angeles Rams. Both teams are going nowhere. The Broncos traded for quarterback Russell Wilson in the offseason and have stumbled their way to a 3-10 record. The defending champion Rams aren’t much better at 4-9.

The nightcap features Tom Brady’s disappointing Tampa Bay Buccaneers playing at the Arizona Cardinals. The Bucs don’t have a winning record but still could win the inept NFC South.

According to TV ratings, bad NFL games are still better than good NBA matchups


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The NFL will always own the NBA when it comes to ratings. The biggest reason for that is the games mean a whole lot more. A Dolphins win or a Buccaneers win this week could change the whole complexion of the postseason picture. In the NBA, it’s one game out of 82. While the matchups might be intriguing, a win or loss doesn’t mean a whole lot in December.

Last year, the NFL played two games on Christmas. Neither was a rivalry meeting or a matchup between two elite teams. They both blew the doors off any of the five NBA games in the ratings department.

The Packers played at the Cleveland Browns at 4:30 p.m. According to Sports Media Watch, that game pulled a 10.8 rating with 28.59 million viewers. The late game between the Indianapolis Colts and the Arizona Cardinals had a 5.3 rating and 12.62 million viewers on NFL Network.

The most highly-rated NBA Christmas game last season was the 8 p.m. game between the Lakers and the Brooklyn Nets. It drew 5.75 million viewers and a 2.4 rating. The Celtics vs. Bucks game at 2:30 p.m. had a 2.0 rating.

To put that Packers/Browns game in perspective, its 28.59 million viewers more than doubled the average of 12.4 million viewers who watched the 2022 NBA Finals between the Celtics and the Warriors.

If you think last year’s ratings comparison between the NBA and NFL was bad, it’s only going to get worse with an additional NFL game this year, even with some pretty poor NFL matchups.