Why NFL games seem to be slower than ever

While speaking on ESPN Radio this week, NFL commentator Mike Tirico summed up the feelings of many fans when he said “the flow and tempo of the [NFL] game is just terrible right now.” Specifically, Tirico was referring to the number of penalties and replay challenges and how it kills the momentum of games.

Well, with respect to penalties, Tirico is right. Through three weeks, 730 penalties have been accepted in games this season, an NFL record for this point in a season, up 10.4% from last year and 18.3% from the 2013 season through the same number of games.

As a result, NFL games are averaging 3 hours 10 minutes so far this season, according to ESPN, nearly four minutes longer than the first three weeks last season. For a sport where the average game only has about 11 minutes of actual action, adding four more minutes of non-action is a terrible recipe.

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