Sunday Night Football Flex Scheduling Watch and Playoff Watch: Week 14

Well, now I’m not sure how much I should have relied on Awful Announcing for the protections not provided by Michael Hiestand, because AA pulled a brain freeze earlier this week and claimed there were protected games Week 17. Notwithstanding that that is expressly prohibited, it would also violate the limit on the number of protectable games – that or AA is forgetting his own previous post listing the protected games!

NBC’s Sunday Night Football package gives it flexible scheduling. For the last seven weeks of the season, the games are determined on 12-day notice, 6-day notice for Week 17.

Last year, no game was listed in the Sunday Night slot, only a notation that one game could move there. CBS and Fox were able to protect one game every week each but had to leave one week each unprotected and had to submit their protections after only four weeks.

Now, NBC lists the game it “tentatively” schedules for each night. However, the NFL is in charge of moving games to prime time.

Here are the rules from the NFL web site:

  • Begins Sunday of Week 11
  • In effect during Weeks 11-17
  • Only Sunday afternoon games are subject to being moved into the Sunday night window.
  • The game that has been tentatively scheduled for Sunday night during flex weeks will be listed at 8:15 p.m. ET.
  • The majority of games on Sundays will be listed at 1:00 p.m. ET during flex weeks except for games played in Pacific or Mountain Time zones which will be listed at 4:05 or 4:15 p.m. ET.
  • No impact on Thursday, Saturday or Monday night games.
  • The NFL will decide (after consultation with CBS, FOX, NBC) and announce as early as possible the game being played at 8:15 p.m. ET. The announcement will come no later than 12 days prior to the game. The NFL may also announce games moving to 4:05 p.m. ET and 4:15 p.m. ET.
  • Week 17 start time changes could be decided on 6 days notice to ensure a game with playoff implications.
  • The NBC Sunday night time slot in “flex” weeks will list the game that has been tentatively scheduled for Sunday night.
  • Fans and ticket holders must be aware that NFL games in flex weeks are subject to change 12 days in advance (6 days in Week 17) and should plan accordingly.
  • NFL schedules all games.
  • Teams will be informed as soon as they are no longer under consideration or eligible for a move to Sunday night.
  • Two other rules were established earlier: CBS and Fox each protect games in five out of six weeks, and can’t protect any games Week 17 this year.
  • Three teams can appear a maximum of six games in primetime on NBC, ESPN or NFL Network (everyone else gets five; the Pats and Cowboys already have six) and no team may appear more than four times on NBC.

Here are the current tentatively-scheduled games and my predictions:

Week 11 (November 18):

  • Selected game: New England @ Buffalo.

Week 12 (November 25):

  • Selected game: Philadelphia @ New England.

Week 13 (December 2):

  • Selected game: Cincinnati @ Pittsburgh.

Week 14 (December 9):

  • Selected game: Indianapolis @ Baltimore.

Week 15 (December 16):

  • Selected game: Washington @ NY Giants.

Week 16 (December 23):

  • Selected game: Washington @ Minnesota.

Week 17 (December 30):

  • Tentative game: Kansas City @ NY Jets
  • Prospects: Awful. This has the best chance of losing its spot.
  • Other possible games/Playoff Positioning Watch:
    • AFC East: Patriots clinched.
    • AFC North: Two-horse race. The Steelers are leading but the Browns are just a game back. Bengals and Ravens out. Steelers-Ravens out along with the Ravens’ playoff chances.
    • AFC South: The Colts are now two ahead of the Jaguars and the Titans and Texans are both out. Titans-Colts can still excite (see below) but is now vulnerable to an NFC game.
    • AFC West: Chargers two ahead of the Broncos and the Chiefs and Raiders are both out. The Chargers are playing the Raiders; the Broncos, the Vikings. Not looking likely.
    • AFC Wild Card: The Jags and Browns would get the nod if the season ended today, with the Titans and Bills a game back, the latter playing the Eagles. The Texans and Broncos are two back. Note the Jags-Texans matchup, probably the only serious competitor to Titans-Colts in the AFC. As the Ravens fade, Steelers-Ravens is probably out. Bengals only other team in playoff contention, and only because I’m too lazy to check the tiebreaker.
    • NFC East: Cowboys clinched.
    • NFC North: Packers clinched.
    • NFC South: Bucs up two on Saints, and Panthers would come down to tiebreaker with the Panthers still with one to play against the Bucs. Guess what week that is? Saints playing Da Bears.
    • NFC West: Seahawks’ lead over Cardinals comes down to tiebreaker.
    • NFC Wild Card: Giants and Vikings would get the nod if the season ended today. Packers-Lions now fading with NFC North locked up and Lions on a losing streak. Vikings-Broncos becomes a minor dark horse. Redskins, Lions, Saints, and Cardinals are all a game back at 6-7, lending a little credence to Packers-Lions, and the Eagles, Bears, and Panthers all have outside shots at 5-8, lending a little credence to Bills-Eagles, Saints-Bears, and Bucs-Panthers. All three of the other teams are at 3-10 and out.

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