Last-Minute Remarks on SNF (and Saturday NFLN) Week 15 Picks

Week 15 (December 17-18):

  • Tentative SNF game: New England (6-6) @ Las Vegas (5-7). On the one hand the Raiders won again, but on the other hand the Pats didn’t exactly look ready for prime time in a listless Thursday night loss to the Bills. Apparently if this game were to be flexed out, it would force the Las Vegas Bowl the previous day into an afternoon timeslot, but considering that even before the season these teams were only expected to be around .500, it seems like it would have been a better choice for a Monday night game than Sunday night.
  • Tentative CBS 4:25 game: Cincinnati (8-4) @ Tampa Bay (5-6).
  • 3 of these games to be moved to Saturday on NFL Network: Dolphins (8-4)-Bills (9-3), Ravens (8-4)-Browns (5-7), Colts (4-8-1)-Vikings (10-2), Falcons (5-8)-Saints (4-8), Giants (7-4-1)-Riveras (7-5-1).
  • Likely protections: Probably Titans-Chargers (CBS) and Cowboys-Jaguars, Eagles-Bears, or nothing (FOX).
  • Impact of Monday Night Football: A Saints win would tie them with the Falcons only a half-game back of the NFC South, giving the game between them potentially huge divisional implications. A Saints loss, by contrast, would give the Bucs a game-and-a-half lead with the Saints another game behind that, giving Falcons-Saints much less juice. On the other hand, the Bucs getting back to .500 would make whether or not I’m correct about the protections a matter of paramount importance.
  • Analysis: As mentioned on last week’s Watch, I was ridiculed on the 506sports Discord for daring to suggest that CBS might have protected Titans-Chargers over Bengals-Bucs at all, let alone that they “probably” did so, but I don’t think we’d have been hearing about a potential Saturday game moving to Sunday night these last few weeks if Titans-Chargers were available (though all the factors leading to Dolphins-Chargers being flexed in the previous week suggests the league may have felt that was a more important Chargers game to flex in than the Titans). My view is that putting a potential Saturday game on Sunday night is only really worth it if the worst game going to NFLN would still be better than putting the Raiders on; NBC’s rights fees are more valuable to the league than games on NFL Network, but there’s still a question of whether the overall set of games getting national exposure is a net positive (though I did have it suggested to me that NFLN really only needs a single “anchor” game to prop up the rest of the slate), and the Raiders getting overtime wins the last two weeks, including against a team currently in the playoffs with the best home field advantage in the NFL, and following that up against a divisional opponent with playoff hopes of their own, suggests Patriots-Raiders may not be the disaster it was looking like earlier in the year. I’m actually not sure the game would be flexed out for Bengals-Bucs even if the Bucs win tonight; the Bucs would have the same record as the Patriots and only a game better record than the Raiders, and their game would technically be more lopsided. The problem, though, is that the Patriots may not necessarily be holding up their end of the bargain, even though they still technically have a better record than the Raiders.

    The Browns won to get to the same record as the Raiders, but their game with the Ravens looks to be more lopsided, and if the Bucs win tonight that would be only the second Saturday game if one of them gets flexed in to Sunday night. A Saints win might make the league feel better about flexing in one of the Saturday games, but I’m not sure it makes them feel all that great. Moreover, the league might not be able to wait for after the Monday night game to make decisions about which games get flexed to Saturday, though it sounds like they could announce the slate during the Monday night game (and they might be able to announce Saturday games conditional on the Monday night game, something they’ve done for Sunday night games in the past). As far as which game gets flexed in, I could honestly see it going either way; the Dolphins lost to put them a game back of the Bills and creep the game closer to the NFC East tilt, which would now determine which team would win a tiebreaker that would likely be just the two of them… but there’s also a question of whether we want to showcase a game that could just slog its way to a tie again. I’d still be inclined to pick the NFC East game, but I’m not as confident about it.

    That’s especially the case because before the Sunday slate even started, someone uncovered an FCC request for a satellite uplink in Buffalo that included “NBC NFL SNF” as one of the dates for it to be used. Seems odd for the decision to be made that early and without publicly announcing it, but I’m almost tempted to go with that, because I could honestly see any of four games ending up on Sunday night otherwise. Leaving that aside, what may end up being the determining factor is that Patriots-Raiders is another West Coast game that can only go in the late afternoon window, and if it ends up going to CBS, the network it would “normally” go to and the one that, as the doubleheader network, has more need for games, it would enter an already crowded late DH window unless Bengals-Bucs either moves to the early window or gets flexed into SNF. If one of the Saturday games gets flexed to SNF, I would look for Patriots-Raiders to be “crossflexed” to Fox’s late singleheader.

  • Final prediction for SNF: Cincinnati Bengals @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (if unprotected or CBS is convinced to give it up, and the Bucs win tonight), New England Patriots @ Las Vegas Raiders (no change) (if not).
  • Final prediction for Saturday: New York Giants @ Washington Commanders (8 PM ET), Miami Dolphins @ Buffalo Bills (4:30 PM ET), Atlanta Falcons @ New Orleans Saints (1 PM ET, if the Saints win tonight), Baltimore Ravens @ Cleveland Browns (1 PM ET, if the Saints lose tonight or the league really can’t make the game dependent on the result of the Monday night game). (If the Saints lose and a Saturday game gets plugged into SNF, my first instinct is to go with Colts-Vikings over Falcons-Saints for the third Saturday game, even though it’s badly lopsided, as a game with playoff implications for one team at least. But I could see the league thinking differently, especially with the likelihood of the Vikings clinching the division this week, and if they can’t wait for the Monday night result I would expect them to go with Falcons-Saints in the late afternoon window, justified with the Saints being on Central time.)

13 thoughts on “Last-Minute Remarks on SNF (and Saturday NFLN) Week 15 Picks

  1. I still think you could see elected officials in SEC country get involved to block Pats-Raiders from being moved to the afternoon to keep (in many of that part of the country’s minds) the “pure” Las Vegas Bowl game in its scheduled Saturday evening slot on ABC (something I’m sure Disney execs and ad buyers for that game are lobbying the NFL for because the New Mexico Bowl, which would replace it would be FAR less attractive to advertisers). For elected officials, it would be to score cheap political points for their constituents who in many cases are STILL boycotting the NFL because in their minds it’s too “woke” and in their minds the NFL should be punished by either being forced to keep Pats-Raiders on SNF (which may still happen anyway) OR if moved, to 11:45 PM ET Sunday night to “own the libs.” I still think the NFL schedule will wind up being this:

    Falcons-Saints: Saturday 4:30 PM ET on NFL Network
    Ravens-Browns: Saturday 8:15 PM ET on NFL Network
    Dolphins-Bills: Becomes FOX’s main Sunday game
    Colts-Vikings: Moved to CBS.
    Giants-Commanders: Sunday 8:20 PM ET on NBC
    Pats-Raiders: Sunday 11:45 PM ET on NFL Network (in place of the Saturday 1:00 PM ET game).

    I still believe the Bills are maxed out on primetime appearances as I believe Thanksgiving counts as a prime time game. If the rules were changed, then it could move to SNF. I also think they may want Giants-Commanders because it’s not only NFC East, but NBC clearly wanted Eagles-Giants for Week 14 but I believe the Mara family, at the behest of many Giants season ticket holders who are notorious for refusing to go to night games ultimately pushed the NFL not to move the game to Sunday night. I still think if that was the case, Giants season ticket holders threatened to sell their tickets for the game to Eagles fans for the purpose of “sending a message” to the Mara and Tisch families they hate night games and having Met Life Stadium for the game be 70,000+ Eagles fans making the two-hour drive to The Meadowlands for the game and hearing Eagles chants all night, turning it into essentially a home game (away from home) for the Eagles.

    And I still think privately the NFL would much prefer having an 11:45 PM ET Sunday game as opposed to a 1:00 PM ET Saturday game because the late Sunday night game would do a much better rating than the Saturday afternoon game (simply because no one wants to admit it, but many families have activities on Saturdays or in this case would be out Christmas shopping), but would not push it knowing the blowback they would get from in this case Pats fans and sportswriters on the east coast who would slam the NFL for making Pats fans stay up until 3:00 AM Monday to see the finish of their team’s game.

  2. One other thought:

    Would the NFL extend the deadline for Week 15 to after Thursday’s Raiders-Rams game? If the Raiders win that game, they would be 6-7 and make a Pats-Raiders SNF game more viable.

  3. Further thoughts:

    If the Saints win tonight, I could see two schedules done where regardless the Las Vegas Bowl stays where it is, Dolphins-Bills becomes FOX’s main game on Sunday and Colts-Vikings is on CBS with the remaining schedule depending on the outcome of Thursday Night Football:

    If the Raiders lose Thursday night to the Rams in LA, the Sunday schedule is the one I noted in the first post with Giants-Commanders becoming SNF and Pats-Raiders moving to 11:45 PM ET, replacing the scheduled Saturday 1:00 PM ET game on NFL Network. If the Raiders win on Thursday, on Saturday Falcons-Saints is at 1:00 PM ET, Ravens-Browns is at 4:30 PM and Giants-Commanders is at 8:15 PM ET with Pats-Raiders remaining on SNF. This way, Giants-Commanders is the only game potentially affected and even then it would be a primetime game whether it’s on Saturday or Sunday and the others simply being a few hours later if NYG-WSH became SNF.

  4. There’s an activity that often takes place at 11:30 on Sunday called SLEEPING. More people tend to do that than do Christmas shopping in one particular window. If people really want to watch the game, they’ll schedule their shopping around that rather than vice versa.

    And yeah, maybe some rando politician in Florida kicks up a fuss about the Vegas Bowl, but what does Tommy Tuberville or someone from Mississippi or Georgia care about the Gators’ well-being? You’re acting like the Vegas Bowl is some sacred tradition and that moving it is like putting Coastal Carolina and Wyoming in the Rose Bowl and playing it on December 21. This is the first year the SEC has even been tied in to the bowl.

    All of this hoo-hah and rigamarole may happen, but what’s actually *going* to happen is that it appears Patriots-Raiders will be flexed (Scott Zolak of the Patriots seems to believe that it will be), the Vegas Bowl and New Mexico Bowl will switch timeslots, and the sun will rise again the next day.

  5. Hello all,

    With these being the games selected for Saturday:

    Saturday, December 17 on NFL Network –

    1:00 PM ET – Indianapolis Colts vs. Minnesota Vikings

    4:30 PM ET – Baltimore Ravens vs. Cleveland Browns

    8:15 PM ET – Miami Dolphins vs. Buffalo Bills

    I suspect that the league is going to move NYG/Wash to SNF to replace NE/LV. I thought that NE/LV had probably done enough to stay on SNF and I’m really surprised that the NFL decided to give us the garbage of Indy/Minn on Saturday. Like Morgan said earlier, it appears that the NFLN needed only 1 anchor game for the trio of games to be played and they definitely have that with the 3rd game of Mia/Buff.

    Tonight’s game really should have no bearing on Week 15’s SNF, but maybe it does and if TB wins, then perhaps Cin/TB moves to SNF and NYG/Wash moves to the late Sunday window on CBS to join Tenn/LAC in that slot.

    It will be interesting to see what happens!

  6. Just as I hit “Post Comment” I come out and see PeteF3 with the announcement. Looks like the Las Vegas Bowl will be moving its game time.

  7. Well You’re Right Pats Raiders Game Got Flexed Out And The NFL Did The Right Thing Again And I was Right Because The game was not in the best shape. But I wont be watching the Giants and the Commanders because i am sick of the NY Giants because they have too many star players and i will not watch this game at all. and i will not watch dolphins chargers sunday either.

  8. Why did NBC pick Giants-Commanders over Dolphins-Bills The answer would be NFC East but if that’s the case then why did Dolphins-Chargers get chosen over Giants-Eagles. I know FOX would have been light in the 1pm window but you could have moved Ravens-Steelers to FOX to be Fox’s Main 1pm game. That is a big rivalry and is definitely good enough to be the feature 1pm game. And with Giants fans hating Night Games the NFL couldnt care less about season ticket holders they just care about money

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