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'Thursday Night Football' ratings up from last year, down from last week

The NFL is more popular than ever, shown by the primetime ratings so far in 2014.

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Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

On Thursday evening, the Atlanta Falcons pounded the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in front of a national audience, drawing an 8.5 rating with its duel broadcasts on NFL Network and CBS, per John Ourand of SportsBusiness Journal.

The rating brings both good and bad news for the NFL. On a positive note, the rating is up 25 percent from last year's Week 3 Thursday night game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles, which only drew a 6.8 rating despite having Andy Reid returning to Philadelphia.

The bad news is how the number paled in comparison to a week ago, when the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens got together. That game did a rating of 13.7 on CBS, according to USA Today, 38 percent higher than the Falcons-Buccaneers game. Interestingly, that number was a whopping 108 percent better than last year's Week 2 game showcasing the New York Jets and New England Patriots.

The season-opening contest of the Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers on NBC had a rating of 16.8, which was slightly up over last year's opener between the Denver Broncos and Baltimore Ravens, which did a 16.2, per SportsBusiness Journal.

It will be interesting to see if the downward trend continues from week-to-week this season. After falling from 16.8 to 13.7, the NFL fell once more to 8.5 on Thursday. Week 4 brings us a Thursday night matchup between Washington and the New York Giants, two powerhouse fan bases in large markets.