By Alan Pergament
On a Buffalo Bills bye week, Western New Yorkers proved how much they love the National Football League.
All of the Bills' division rivals were playing on a cold Sunday afternoon and evening, when local fans had to be thankful there wasn't a game at the Ralph to brave those conditions and they could sit in the front of their TV sets.
New England's 34-31 overtime victory over the Denver Broncos on Sunday Night Football was the highest-rated locally with a 17.7 rating on Channel 2. That's about half of what Bills game receive, but it more than doubled Sunday's network prime time competition, which included the American Music (7.6) Awards on Channel 7.
Dallas' 24-21 victory over the New York Giants in the late Fox game carried on WUTV had an impressive 15.9 rating here.
Baltimore's 19-3 win over the New York Jets and slumping quarterback Geno Smith had a 13.9 rating on Channel 4, the local CBS affiliate.
Carolina's 20-16 victory over the Miami Dolphins had a 10.3 on WUTV, the local Fox affiliate.
To put WNY's love of football in even more perspective, the Buffalo Sabres' 3-1 loss to Detroit in a game that had a late afternoon start on MSG had a 6.9 rating. After a double-digit rating for the game against Toronto that was Ted Nolan's first as coach, the Sabre games have been averaging in the 7's. That is lower than last year's average, but above the ratings in the weeks before Nolan and Pat LaFontaine were hired.
I have no idea if Jason LaCanfora's report on CBS Sports.com about Jon Bon Jovi's interest in buying the Buffalo Bills is credible or means anything. I understand why in the age of social media, it became a mainstream media story here. But I would have been more convinced about its credibility if LaCanfora had talked about it on his insider segment on CBS' pregame show Sunday. He didn't say a word about it in his segment on the big network. The tip seemed to be one of the online prayers that insiders throw out just in case they prove to be accurate five years down the road. I certainly smiled when LaCanfora cited as evidence of Bon Jovi's interest in the Bills that the singer added a Buffalo concert date to his tour. If that is evidence, then I'm thinking Rihanna and Michael Buble might be interested in buying the Bills, too.
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