Favrian Followers

How ‘bout them Cowboys?

Jimmy Johnson may not have been in Jerry Jones’s new house for Dallas’ desultory win over Carolina, but plenty of Nielsens were watching Monday Night Football.

Love or loathe ‘em, the ‘Boys are TV eye candy and their 21-7 triumph drew some 15.7 million viewers, the biggest cable audience thus far in 2009.

That gives Dallas three of the top four telecasts in ESPN’s MNF history. The Sept. 28 telecast ranks fourth, behind the Oct. 23, 2006 contest against the New York Giants, which scored with over 16 million viewers and the second-ranked New England Patriots-Baltimore Ravens tilt on Dec. 3, 2007. At that point, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady were still pursuing NFL perfection, a mark that was saved at the time by Baltimore’s then-defensive coordinator Rex Ryan calling a timeout that negated the Ravens’ stoppage of the QB’s sneak in the waning moments.

The MNF grandaddy of them all under ESPN’s watch, at this point, is the Sept. 15, 2008 game in which the Cowboys edged the Eagles 41-37. Breaking news aside, that telecast, with some 18.6 million viewers, ranks as cable’s most-watched live telecast. However, it falls to second overall behind the premiere of Disney Channel telefilm High School Musical 2, when live +seven-day watching is factored in.

The question is where will these telecasts be — or not be — ranked after the Oct. 5 Monday nighter in Minneapolis. Brett Favre, the NFL’s version of Hamlet, will lead the Vikings as they host the team the Green Bay Packers, the club for which the QB fashioned most of his legacy on the field. Not to mention the first few verses of that by now oh, so tired tune, “The Go Home to Ride a Tractor in Mississippi Blues.”

The ole gunslinger did set things up nicely for ESPN, with his tremendous last-second TD pass to Greg Lewis that dropped San Francisco from the ranks of the unbeaten. Hence, first place in the NFC North will be on the line as Favre’s understudy Aaron Rodgers and the 2-1 Pack try to knock his/their (tor)mentor and Adrian Peterson, the league’s top RB, from their 3-0 perch.

On paper it’s a great match-up and with Favre’s histrionics, it has a story line second to only when The Waffler will visit Lambeau Field on Nov. 1. But the size of the competing DMAs –Minneapolis-St. Paul is No. 15, Green Bay-Appleton is No. 70 — may work against the contest making cable audience history of its own.

Unless, of course, the game goes down to the wire and the Hall of Famer has another opportunity to conjure his two-minute magic and there’s enough hatred, er interest, from the Big Apple, Favre’s haunt during the 2008 season.

Make no mistake, there are more than a few New York Jets’ fans and others from these parts that would like to see No. 4 get knocked back into retirement in Mississippi by Green Bay.

Go Pack!