The Rams bumble along in the win-loss column, where they are 2-7. They bumble along in offensive statistics, in which their 12.6 points per game average is the worst in the NFL. And they bumble along in defensive stats, in which their 150.6 rushing yards per game allowed are the worst in the league.
But where they don't bumble is in local television ratings. The Rams are having their second-best year at the same point, through nine games, since 2006.
According to The Nielsen Co., Rams telecasts have been seen in 20.2 percent of homes with a TV in the market, their best nine-game figure in that span other than the 25.0 rating of last year — when they finally were showing some promise. Although they were just 4-5 then, they were coming off seasons of one, two and three wins and rookie quarterback Sam Bradford looked like the real deal.
But while the team and Bradford have regressed, the rating for nine contests this year is 20 percent better than any recent season other than last year.
To put the Rams' rating thus far into perspective, and to show the massive draw of the NFL, the top Fox Sports Midwest rating for the Cardinals in its 15 seasons of televising the ballclub is 18. That was for their season finale this year as they beat Houston and later that night clinched a playoff spot.
KTVI (Channel 2) televises the bulk of the Rams' games and its general manager, Spencer Koch, was not available for comment. However, the strength of the Rams as a TV entity is nothing new and he has addressed the matter in the past. "The St. Louis fan looks at it as an event, a week-to-week story and they're going to watch," he has said. "... We have a big base of people who like to watch football."
And some creative accounting in the ticket department has led to no Rams home games being blacked out on local TV since the finale of the 2009 season, as the technical 'sellout" requirements have been met despite blocks of empty seats at some home games. (Sunday's game, against Seattle, will be on KTVI.)
Last Sunday afternoon, the snorefest in which the Rams beat Cleveland 13-12 was the highest-rated program on St. Louis television for the week that ended that day despite the game being between teams that went in with a combined record of 4-13 and not being in prime time. Nielsen says 19.3 percent of homes with a TV in the market tuned in.
And not just in St. Louis, where football is big on TV. Through Monday, National Football League games accounted for 18 of the 20 most-watched programs on television since the NFL season began. The only other shows on that list were the much-publicized season premiere of "Two and a Half Men," which was No. 1 (28.7 million viewers) and Game 7 of the World Series, which was No. 8 (25.4 million viewers) as the Cardinals beat Texas.
Both Missouri Class 6 football semifinal games, CBC vs. St. Louis University High and Blue Springs South against Francis Howell, will be webcast tonight on foxsportsmidwest.com. So will one of the Class 5 semis — Lee's Summit West vs. Staley.
Those games begin at 7 p.m. On radio, KFNS (590 AM) airs the CBC-SLUH contest and KSLG (1380 AM) has the Howell game.
All Show-Me Bowl state title games next weekend will be on Fox Sports Midwest's alternate channel, which varies by carrier and now is being called "Fox Sports Midwest Plus.''
IN THE BOOTH
Wisconsin at Illinois, 11 a.m. Saturday, ESPN2 • Beth Mowins (play-by-play), Mike Bellotti (analysis).
Missouri vs. Texas Tech, 2:30 p.m. Saturday, KDNL (30) • Dave Lamont (play-by-play), Ray Bentley (analysis).
Seahawks at Rams, 3:05 p.m. Sunday, KTVI (2) • Chris Myers (play-by-play), Tim Ryan (analysis), Jaime Maggio (reporter).