Sunday Night Football Flex Scheduling Watch: Week 15

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.

The first year, no game was listed in the Sunday Night slot, only a notation that one game could move there. 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 (note that even with the bit about the early flexes, this was written with the 2007 season in mind, hence why it still says late games start at 4:15 ET instead of 4:25):

  • Begins Sunday of Week 5
  • In effect during Weeks 5-17
  • Up to 2 games may be flexed into Sunday Night between Weeks 5-10
  • 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.
  • Rules NOT listed on NFL web site but pertinent to flex schedule selection: CBS and Fox each protect games in five out of six weeks starting Week 11, and cannot protect any games Week 17. Games were protected after Week 4 in 2006 and 2011, because NBC hosted Christmas night games those years and all the other games were moved to Saturday (and so couldn’t be flexed), but are otherwise protected after Week 5. As I understand it, during the Week 5-10 period the NFL and NBC declare their intention to flex out a game two weeks in advance, at which point CBS and Fox pick one game each to protect.
  • In the past, three teams could appear a maximum of six games in primetime on NBC, ESPN or NFL Network (everyone else gets five) and no team may appear more than four times on NBC. I don’t know how the expansion of the Thursday Night schedule affects this, if it does. No team starts the season completely tapped out at any measure; ten teams have five primetime appearances each, but only the Packers, Bears, 49ers, Steelers, and Saints don’t have games in the main flex period, and all have games in the early flex period. I don’t know if both of the games scheduled for 12/20 count towards the total, or only the one in primetime. A list of all teams’ number of appearances is in my Week 5 post.

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

Week 17 (December 28):

AFC Playoff Picture
2 tied at 9-5
NFC Playoff Picture
510-4 5-9
  • Tentative game: None (NBC will show game with guaranteed playoff implications).
  • Possible games: Panthers-Falcons, Lions-Packers, Chargers-Chiefs, Bills-Patriots, Bengals-Steelers (with the first three being most likely). Sadly for any chance of seeing Johnny Manziel in primetime this season, on top of his bad play the Browns’ conference record is atrocious, especially compared to the Chiefs and Chargers, essentially eliminating Browns-Ravens as a guaranteed win-and-you’re-in game for the Browns, though there’s an off chance it’s a loser-out game for the Ravens.
  • Lions-Packers will be selected if: The Packers win OR the Lions and Cowboys lose. If the Lions were to win and the Packers lose the Lions would cinch the conference tiebreaker; both teams hold tiebreakers over Philly so there is pretty much no way for this to be a loser-out game, but either team, with a win, would cinch a first-round bye contingent on winning the division. Even if a first-round bye isn’t guaranteed to be on the line, however, this game would probably still be flexed in with a Lions loss and a Cowboys win if any of the other scenarios fail to play out.
  • Panthers-Falcons will be picked if: The Panthers win AND the Falcons beat the Saints AND the Lions-Packers scenario doesn’t happen. The Saints winning on Monday night and the Falcons losing Sunday actually isn’t a disaster for this game’s chances; the Falcons would tie the Saints in the standings and hold a head-to-head sweep with a win, but the Panthers do need to hold up their end of the bargain, as a loss would leave them dependent on what the Saints do against the Bucs. Both the NFL and NBC really hope this doesn’t happen.
  • Chargers-Chiefs will be picked if: The Chiefs beat the Steelers AND the Chargers win AND the Ravens win AND the Lions-Packers scenario doesn’t happen. Though neither team is in position right now, their respective conference records have them in such good shape for cross-division tiebreakers it could actually hurt this game’s chances for the loser to be out; if the Steelers and Ravens both lose out, the Chiefs would still hold a head-to-head tiebreaker over the Steelers, and the Bills’ conference record is even worse than that of the Browns so they would be a nonfactor in this scenario.
  • Bengals-Steelers will be picked if: The Bengals lose AND the Chiefs beat the Steelers AND the Chargers win AND (the Ravens win AND the Lions-Packers scenario doesn’t happen) OR (the Lions win AND the Packers lose AND the Panthers-Falcons scenario doesn’t happen). If the Ravens lose either week, this game is for the division with the loser falling behind the Chiefs-Chargers winner, but if the Steelers lose out, they could easily still make the playoffs if the Ravens also lose out and the Chiefs beat the Chargers, and a Browns win this week doesn’t help that because they split the season series with the Steelers (with both also splitting with the Ravens), would finish with the same division record (ahead of the Ravens), and lose the common games tiebreaker. For the Bengals, the problem is all the more acute because tiebreakers don’t factor into it at all; in the wild card race, they can only fall behind the Chiefs, Chargers, or Bills if those teams win out, or the Ravens if they pick up at least one win. Division winner versus 6 seed might still be attractive to NBC, but not if the division winner would hold the 4 seed, or worse, if the game just determines home field for a rematch the following week. So this game actually has a better shot if it’s not guaranteed to be for the division, because that ensures that the loser will fall to third in the division on top of falling behind the Chiefs-Chargers winner. (UPDATE 12/18: Just realized the Bengals are playing on Monday night, making this all the more unlikely and possibly dependent on the Steelers winning. This game may be just plain out unless there are no other options.)
  • Bills-Patriots might be picked if: The Bills win AND the Steelers beat the Chiefs AND the Ravens and Chargers lose AND the Lions win AND the Packers lose AND the Panthers-Falcons situation doesn’t happen. Even then, the Patriots have already locked up the division and a lot would depend on what the Broncos and Colts do; this game would probably need the Patriots to lose and the Broncos to win, and a Colts win would be nice as well. But if all this happens, the Bills would lose a tiebreaker to the Chiefs-Chargers winner with a loss, while the worst-case scenario with a win would be going to strength of victory against the Ravens. All told, chances are NBC will continue its streak of airing all NFC matchups since Week 17 went to all-division matchups in 2010.

43 thoughts on “Sunday Night Football Flex Scheduling Watch: Week 15

  1. Here is what I see happening for Week 17. (Part 2)

    1. Detroit(10-4) @ Green Bay(10-4)will most likely be the SNF game for Week 17.

    2. Cicinnati(9-4-1) @ Pittsburgh(9-5)will most likely get moved from the 1:00 broadcast window to the 4:25 national window on CBS.

    3. San Diego(8-6) @ Kansas City(8-6)will most likely stay at the 1:00 broadcast window on CBS or get’s crossflexed to FOX either at 1:00 broadcast window or 4:25 national window on FOX.

  2. 4. Buffalo(8-6) @ New England(11-3)will most likely stay at the 1:00 broadcast window on CBS or get’s crossflexed to FOX either at 1:00 broadcast window or 4:25 national window on FOX.

    5. Carolina (5-8-1) @ Atlanta (5-9) will most likely stay at the 1:00 broadcast window on FOX.

  3. Here’s what I see happening:

    If the Eagles win on Saturday, regardless of the outcome of Colts-Cowboys on Sunday were are likely looking at BOTH NFC East games being in the 4:25 PM ET time slot, most likely with Eagles-Giants remaining on FOX and Redskins-Cowboys cross-flexed to CBS (that could be flip-flopped, but it would mean Jets-Dolphins at 1:00 PM gets cross-flexed to FOX).

    If the Seahawks beat the Cardinals on Sunday night, look for Cardinals-49ers and Rams-Seahawks to be split up the same way (one on FOX, the other on CBS).

    Bills-Pats likely stays at 1:00 PM, but could be cross-flexed to FOX depending on Bengals-Chargers.

    The NFC South games (Falcons-Panthers and Saints-Bucs) likely are both at 1:00 PM, split between FOX and CBS in similar manner.

    Lions-Packers is a near-lead pipe cinch at this point to be the Week 17 Sunday nighter so long as the Lions have NOT clinched the NFC North this weekend. Bengals-Steelers, as long as its for the AFC North title likely would be the next best game if Lions-Packers isn’t.

  4. I think all of you who are assuming the NFL will crossflex games to allow people to watch both simultaneous games of a single race may be jumping to conclusions, especially considering how rarely the NFL has pulled the crossflex at all this year.

    I no longer think Bengals-Steelers has much of a shot at all except as a last resort, for reasons I’ve added to the post.

  5. Morgan:

    The purpose of cross-flexing is to allow for balance, but also to allow for as many people as possible to see both games if the division is on the line, especially where the blackout policy is NOT a factor.

    In this case, it would make the most sense for the NFL to split up the games where a division title is on the line as much as possible where the teams aren’t meeting head-to-head because it means BOTH CBS and FOX will likely be getting viewers to both games with people going back and forth. As long as the Eagles win on Saturday, one of Eagles-Giants and Cowboys-Redskins will get flexed to CBS, depending on whether FOX is willing to take Jets-Dolphins in the 1:00 PM slot in order to keep Cowboys-Redskins. Same with the NFC West if the Seahawks win on Sunday with Rams-Seahawks and Cardinals-49ers (one on FOX, the other goes to CBS).

    As for SNF, as previously said so long as the Lions DO NOT CLINCH the NFC North this weekend, Lions-Packers will be the SNF finale (basically, as long as the Packers don’t fall flat in Tampa on Sunday).

  6. “The purpose of cross-flexing is to allow for balance, but also to allow for as many people as possible to see both games if the division is on the line, especially where the blackout policy is NOT a factor.”

    [citation needed]

  7. Okay, maybe I should have worded it differently, but I was simply using common sense:

    One of the reasons I believe the NFL did do cross-flexing besides adding balance was to allow with all games in Week 17 being divisional matchup being able to set up where whenever possible, both divisional games can be seen at the same time. If the Eagles and/or Seahawks both win this weekend, we will see if this actually plays out.

    Logic dictates in the new format of cross-flexing wherever possible to make it so fans of teams alive for the playoffs with the division on the line can see both games at the same time. That’s why I think if the Eagles win on Saturday we will see Eagles-Giants on FOX AND Cowboys-Redskins on CBS at 4:25 (for the latter to remain on FOX, Jets-Dolphins would have to be cross-flexed to FOX at 1:00).

    You do have to wonder if for instance if Raiders-Broncos and Bills-Patriots between them decide the #1 seed if the NFL would consider a first-time-ever regular season move of a Broncos home game to 1:00 PM (11:00 AM local time), especially since Bengals-Steelers, Chargers-Chiefs and Browns-Ravens also could all be at 1:00 if the NFL decides to have the NFC East and NFC West games (should one of both divisions be still up for grabs) at 4:25 PM (with the NFC South games potentially also at 4:25 games if both Panthers-Falcons and Saints-Bucs are in play as well).

  8. Is that “common sense” or “logic”, or just wishful thinking that crossflexing was instituted for any purpose other than the networks’ benefit? I admit I haven’t been keeping track of the circumstances behind each crossflex and “logic” would dictate that the networks would benefit most from each market getting the two most attractive games for that market whenever possible, but I’m not sure the NFL has flexed any games for the “fans'” benefit all season, or even to put more attractive games on one network or the other; why would they start now? Not to say I would be surprised if they crossflexed in that fashion, but if they don’t don’t say I didn’t tell you so.

  9. I was just using plain old logic:

    I would think the NFL would want both games of local interest whenever possible to be airing in the same cities at the same time, which the NFL is more easily able to do with situations like the Eagles and Cowboys (if the Eagles win Saturday) given all week 17 games are within the divisions. The NFC East and NFC West races are pretty much clear-cut at this point as we know the scenarios depending on who wins and loses this weekend. As long as both division games matter, then the split of those games between FOX and CBS makes the most sense. Same with the NFC South if both games matter there.

    The AFC is a bit more complicated because of the Wild Card also being in play and teams needing help there. Easpecially if the Colts beat the Cowboys on Sunday, Monday’s Broncos-Bengals game is going to go a long way as to deciding if the #1 and/or #2 seeds are on the line in the final week of the regular season as well as help shape the Wild Card race going into the last week of the year.

    That’s why to me the likely scenario as of when this was written is this (and even more so if the #2 seed is at stake in the AFC):

    ALL AFC games at 1:00 PM ET (split between CBS and FOX with as much as possible both games of a division airing simultaneously plus the meaningless Bears-Vikings NFC game also at 1:00), including a first-ever move of a Broncos home game to 11:00 AM local time so that game is in play at 1:00 and not potentially meaningless at 4:25.

    All NFC games other than the NFC North at 4:25 PM, again split between FOX and CBS. Since unless the Pack fall flat in Tampa their game with the Lions will be for the NFC North, that will be the Sunday night game. If the Pack are only playing for a Wild Card (and are tied with the Eagles at 10-5 going into that game for the #6 seed) in that game and the NFC South comes down to Panthers-Falcons, then Panthers-Falcons is the SNF game and Lions-Packers is at 4:25 and airing on whichever network is NOT airing Eagles-Giants.

  10. Like I said, a lot of this is going to depend first and foremost on the outcome of the games this week. A lot can and likely will change between now and then and what I said now might be the most practical come when the decisions have to actually be made on Monday for week 17.

  11. It is now official that Bengals-Steelers will be the Sunday night finale.

    I believe the NFL did not want to put Lions-Packers on SNF because of the #1 seed being in play (Lions can be the #1 seed if they win and BOTH the Cardinals and Seahawks lose). That will likely be a 4:25 PM game along with the NFC West games for that reason. Also possible local officials in Green Bay did not a Sunday night game on six days notice unless it was the only option and told the NFL such.

    There also is the possibility with a tie of the Cowboys being the #2 seed (which the Cowboys can also get if BOTH the Seahawks and Cardinals lose and they win and the Cowboys can actually get if ALL of the above happen) which likely also played into the NFL’s decision.

    Panthers-Falcons, while a de facto playoff game is not one the casual sports fan, who is difficult to get to watch Christmas week is not as likely to watch (the NFL did go with the de facto playoff Rams-Seahawks game in a similar situation four years ago and it was the lowest-rated game of the NBC era of Sunday Night Football I believe). This would have likely been lower than Rams-Seahawks four years ago because neither team that big with casual fans outside of the southeast.

    Bengals-Steelers will be for the AFC North.

  12. I meant to say:

    “Panthers-Falcons, while a de facto playoff game is not one the casual sports fan, who is difficult to get to watch Christmas week is likely to watch.”

    (Editing error)

  13. The idea that Green Bay didn’t want a night game announced on six days notice (notably, in the middle of winter at frigid Lambeau) is the only part of that explanation of why Lions-Packers wasn’t flexed in that makes sense to me (and if true, puts the NFL’s decisions last year in a new light). All the scenarios you bring up would still be in play if Lions-Packers was the Sunday night game because that game wouldn’t have been played yet when all the other teams you mention would have been playing, and the Lions and Packers would have been playing for the division and (barring a tie) a first-round bye no matter what. I’m not passing judgment on what happened here until I see a) behind-the-scenes pieces from sports media reporters and b) the final Week 17 schedule, because I can’t help but wonder if crossflexes, and the need to have an exact balance of crossflexes going each way for the season, played into this (as well as the not-quite-22-20 rule and the lack of any flexes all season).

  14. Actually, the Cowboys scenario, albeit far fetched may have played into things in this case:

    Keep in mind, Jerry Jones may need as much lead-in time as possible in case the Cowboys wind up with the #1 or #2 seed because “Jerry World” is also playing host to the Cotton Bowl at 11:30 AM local time on New Year’s Day as part of the new “New Year’s Six” bowl that in turn are part of the new College Football playoff and more importantly is also hosting the first national championship game in the new CFB Playoff on Monday, January 12.

    Staff at A T & T (Cowboys) Stadium and/or the College Football Playoff Committee may have informed the NFL they need to know as early as possible which weekend (Wild Card or Divisional Playoff) they will be hosting the Cowboys first playoff weekend as if the Cowboys do wind up with the #1 or #2 seed in particular, it is going to affect the preparations of which schools are playing for the College Football National Championship on Monday 1/12 and how those schools might prepare for that game.

    The Cowboys almost would have to play a Divisional Playoff game at home on Saturday in order to get A T & T Stadium ready in time for the teams playing for the CFB Championship to be able to do a walk-through the day before that game on Sunday.

    That likely explains why Bengals-Steelers wound up the Sunday Night finale while neither Lions-Packers nor Panthers-Falcons were chosen for that game.

  15. One other note:

    Panthers-Falcons was likely not chosen because Georgia Dome officials likely informed the NFL they needed that game to stay at 1:00 as they needed the additional time to get the Georgia Dome ready for the Peach Bowl as soon as Panthers-Falcons ended (that game is on New Year’s Eve at 12:30 PM local/Eastern time and is also part of the “New Year’s Six” Bowl Games).

  16. Apparently, it is now being reported the NFL did want to have Panthers-Falcons be the Sunday night game but Peach Bowl officials insisted on that game staying at 1:00 as they not only have to get the Georgia Dome ready for the Peach Bowl as soon as the Falcons game ends, but some fans will be coming for the Peach Bowl, arriving in RVs as early as Sunday night (and yes, the will get there 2-3 days ahead). You get a lot of people who travel considerable distances to college games a lot more than the NFL and it’s a different kind of fan as well, and even more so for a bowl game.

  17. The reports of Peach Bowl officials wanting Panthers-Falcons to remain at 1:00 and NOT moved to SNF were proved to be at least partially false as we now know Panthers-Falcons will be at 4:25 PM and cross-flexed to CBS.

    It wouldn’t shock me at all if we found out later the NFL had to do serious arm-twisting with Peach Bowl and Chick-Fil-A (game’s title sponsor) officials in order to just move the game to 4:25 because college football fans are a lot different from the NFL and some fans/alumni of Ole Miss and TCU will be arriving in Atlanta as early as Sunday and they have a lot of work to do in order to get the Georgia Dome ready for the Peach Bowl, which has a 12:30 PM ET kickoff on Wednesday 12/31 as the first of the “New Year’s Six” Bowl Games in the new College Football Playoff format (Rose and Sugar Bowls are the playoff games this year with the Peach, Cotton, Orange and Fiesta Bowls also hosting semifinal games every third year).

    If those who travel using RVs (and a lot do in college football) planned to park in the Georgia Dome lot Sunday evening, they will be in for a rude awakening.

  18. Adding:

    The stated reason since reported is they took CIN-PIT because they wanted to take a CBS game over a FOX game after taking a FOX game for four straight years.

  19. Here’s my take on what I would have done if I was the NFL in scheduling the final SNF game of the season. The original schedule was slated as 13 early games and 3 late games. The NFL chose to move 2 of the early games to late games, to make it 10 early games and 5 late games. Last year, the NFL had 8 early games and 7 late games. Perhaps the disparity this year is due to less of the games having playoff impact.

    My final rankings for SNF pick would have been in this order:

    #1—Carolina(6-8-1) @ Atlanta(6-9) and it was my pick due to the win in factor that the NFL used to seem to want to be this game.

    #2—Detroit(11-4) @ Green Bay(11-4) chose over Cincy/Pitt due to perhaps less impact on seeding, but barely. Maybe I’m wrong.

    #3—Cincinnati(10-4-1) @ Pittsburgh(10-5)

    #4—San Diego(9-6) @ Kansas City(8-7) could be a game that determines the final AFC playoff spot, had it been scheduled as the SNF game.

    And lastly, a few side notes. 11 of the 16 games this weekend have bearing on playoff seedings or those that make the playoffs. The 5 matchups that are just to play for playing’s sake are:

    NY Jets @ Miami
    Chicago @ Minnesota
    Buffalo @ New England (though NE is of course #1 seed in AFC)
    Philadelphia @ NY Giants
    New Orleans @ Tampa Bay

    All of these games are in the early time window, leaving 5 games that matter in the early window. That, of course, means all 5 games in the late window and the SNF all have playoff implications.

    Should be a fun Week 17.

    GO PACK GO!!!!!!!!

  20. Jeff:

    I agree on Panthers-Falcons, however, I stand by my opinion that Peach Bowl and/or Chick-Fil-A representatives made it clear to the NFL not to move the game to Sunday night, even if no one wants to admit it. I suspect the NFL had to do a LOT of arm twisting just to make it a 4:25 PM game because some people are likely going to be getting there in RVs and will be expecting to park in the Georgia Dome lots as early as Sunday night for the Peach Bowl.

    Lions-Packers I think didn’t get flexed because College Football Playoff Officials (again, something the NFL likely would never want to admit to) made it clear they needed 100% certainly ASAP as to whether the Cowboys would be at home for the Wild Card game on most likely Sunday 1/4 or the Divisional Playoff game on Saturday 1/10. Given the slim possibility of the Cowboys getting the #2 seed if they won and the Lions-Packers game ended in a five-quarter tie OR their winning and the Cardinals losing, CFB Playoff officials likely needed to know no later than 8:00 PM ET Sunday so they can put their plans for the Championship game in place, especially since people may be arriving in RVs for the title game as early as Friday 1/9 for the CFB Championship game on Monday 1/12.

  21. Yeah, if fact, something else with this:

    If you listen carefully to ESPN’s ads on radio for their first-ever NFL Playoff telecast, they have been mentioning “The Weekend of January 3rd” and NOT Saturday 1/3 itself. That suggests there is a possibility that if the Cowboys in fact are the #1 or #2 seed, BOTH NFC Wild Card games have to be on Saturday 1/3 because the Cowboys in that scenario would have to host their Divisional Playoff game on FRIDAY 1/9 due to having to get A T & T Stadium ready for the College Football National Championship Game on Monday 1/12. That would suggest in that scenario, ESPN would get the early game on Sunday 1/4 and it would be one of two AFC Wild Card games that day.

  22. The NFL is not playing a playoff game on Friday. I refuse to believe Jerry Jones, ESPN, and the CFP had that little confidence in the Cowboys not to have ANY contingencies in case they got a first-round bye (although, considering how the team has played in recent years before this year…). They may play early Saturday, but they’ll play in the Cotton Bowl before they move the game to Friday. (Although the Cowboys getting a first-round bye is a REALLY big long shot in any case.)

  23. Morgan:

    It definitely IS a longshot, however, it had been long assumed ESPN would have the early playoff time slot (4:30 PM) on Saturday 1/3 in the new playoff format. The fact that ESPN (at least on radio) is advertising “The Weekend of January 3” rather than January 3 itself suggests it is possible ESPN could wind up with a 1:00 PM ET playoff game on Sunday 1/4.

    No one expected the Cowboys to amount to much of anything this year, especially after they were THRASHED 28-0 AT HOME by the 49ers on the opening Sunday of the season. The fact they are (as of when this was written) still alive at all for the #2 seed is remarkable, but at the same time is a potential scheduling NIGHTMARE for all parties because the CFB Playoff people have to get A T & T (Cowboys) stadium ready for the CFB Championship and you have the likelihood of fans of the winners of the Rose and Sugar Bowls showing up in RVs as early as Friday night (1/9) and expecting to park in the lots at A T & T Stadium (something unique to college football you don’t see in the NFL).

    The CFB Playoff committee, if the same rules for the NCAA Basketball playoffs are followed likely will require that ALL Cowboys banners and other items be removed the way the NCAA requires it when NCAA Tournament games are held there in order to avoid any possible offending of those who are anti-pro sports on religious grounds (especially since there are those who associate pro sports with gambling). That, and having the field ready for the Rose and Sugar Bowl winners playing in the championship games so they can practice on it (remember, they use a different field for college football than NFL games at A T & T stadium) might very well require a Friday NFC Divisional Playoff game if the Cowboys are the #1 or #2 seed may force this. That in turn could force BOTH NFC Wild Card games on Saturday so you don’t have the potentially of the Cowboys’ opponent playing the Divisional playoff on four days rest.

    This is something NO ONE could have realistically expected to happen, but as of when this was written, it was still possible.

  24. Lets just say there was a MASSIVE sigh of relief coming from NFL Offices as well as College Football Playoff officials when the Seahawks won AND the Lions-Packers game DID NOT END in a five-quarter tie because either scenario would have given the Cowboys a first-round bye and a massive scheduling headache for officials.

  25. I still think they’d have moved the game to the Cotton Bowl rather than play on Friday if they couldn’t have done an accelerated turnaround, much as Jerry Jones wouldn’t like not having a divisional game in his personal Taj Mahal, and despite how old and decrepit the Cotton Bowl is.

    For that matter, even if they HAD forced both NFC wild card games to Saturday, why would that move ESPN’s game to Sunday when they’re showing an NFC game as it is? Why wouldn’t they go ESPN-Fox on Saturday and CBS-NBC on Sunday? I’m not sure an advertisement that sounds like it was as vague as possible to cover all possible bases necessarily says anything about how set in stone plans were by the time it aired.

  26. The likely scenario in my view had the Cowboys gotten the bye would have been this (assuming a five-quarter tie in Lions-Packers):

    NFC (both Saturday 1/3):
    Cardinals at Panthers, 4:30 on FOX
    Packers at Lions, 8:15 on NBC

    AFC (both Sunday 1/4):
    Bengals at Colts, 1:05 PM on ESPN
    Ravens at Steelers, 4:30 PM on CBS.

    Higher remaining seed at Cowboys, Friday 1/9 at 9:05 PM ET on FOX (9:05 PM ET kickoff to accommodate the west coast).

    Lower remaining seed at Seahawks: Saturday 1/10 at 8:15 PM ET on NBC (this is NBC’s first year with a Divisional Playoff game)


    Lower remaining seed at Patriots, Saturday 1/10 at 4:30 PM ET on CBS

    Higher remaining seed at Broncos, Sunday 1/11 at 3:10 PM ET on CBS (slightly earlier kickoff since there would be only one Sunday game)

    That would have accommodated the CFB Champiosnhip game being on Monday 1/12 if the Cowboys got a bye. The NFL was not about to move a game to The Cotton Bowl, especially a playoff game for the same reasons they would not let the Bills use the Carrier Dome at Syracuse earlier this year.

  27. Didn’t think of it until after I posted, but one other scenario from this had it happened would have been the GoDaddy Bowl on ESPN would have been moved from a 9:00 PM ET to a 12:30 PM ET (11:30 AM CT) kickoff on Sunday 1/4 with the following then happening:

    AFC Playoffs (Sunday 1/4)
    Ravens at Steelers: 3:10 PM ET on CBS
    Bengals at Colts: 7:40 PM ET on ESPN

    That to me was why ESPN was being vague in its radio ads for their Wild Card game due to the possibility of the Cowboys having to play on Friday 1/9 if they got the bye.

  28. I know we don’t talk about this yet, but here I go anyway. Last year, not 1 single SNF game was flexed. In a new twist last season, 2 of the 6 SNF games from Week’s 5 to 10 can be flexed. The Week 5 SNF game in this 2015 season is San Francisco @ NY Giants. Those teams are currentlt 1-1 and 0-2 respectively. If San Fran loses @ 2-0 Arizona this week and the 0-2 Gmen lose at home vs. Washington, I could see the Week 5 SNF game being flexed and perhaps to a New England @ Dallas game. I know, I know……they won’t flex a game out of the New York market, but a 1-3 49ers @ 0-4 Giants could be a very horrible game for NBC.

  29. Jeff:

    After three weeks, if the Falcons and Panthers keep winning, I can see their week 14 meeting in Charlotte gets flexed to SNF AND depending on what happened between now and then their Week 16 rematch in Atlanta ALSO being flexed to SNF. Those right now look like the only two possible flexes to SNF this season.

  30. Walt:

    Kansas City @ San Diego in Week 11 is a possibility for a flex and a potential replacement could be Green Bay @ Minnesota. Cincinnati @ San Francisco in Week 15 has a chance to be flexed out due to the chance that the 49ers don’t live up to their end of the bargain. Denver @ Pittsburgh is a potential replacement there, but of course that might become a protected game. Would be my choice if I was CBS. Your thoughts on Week 14 and 16 are pretty spot on. Who would have thought that before the season. Needless to say, I believe we’ll have at least a flex or 2 this year, as opposed to last year’s zero.

    As for Week 6, I am thinking that if Indy beats Jack this week, then I’d be for keeping New England @ Indy as the SNF game. However I do like 2 other games. They are Arizona @ Pittsburgh, but no Big Ben lessens the marquee value of this game. The other game I like is Cincy @ Buffalo, but pretty much only if Buffalo beats the Giants in Buffalo this weekend.

    Bottom line, even if Indy loses vs. Jack this week, I see no chance that New England @ Indy gets flexed. Especially as it’s a deflategate rematch.

  31. Woiuld not be surprised if at least one of Falcons-Panthers is protected by FOX, especially with both teams 4-0 (as of this writing). Otherwise, both meetings for now look like the best candidates to be flexed.

  32. I agree Walt. I could see Fox protecting the Week 14 Falcons at Panthers, moving it to 3:25pm and NBC then grabbing Cowboys at Packers which would be a big national ratings game if Romo and Dez are back.

  33. Actually Cory:

    FOX would protect Cowboys-Packers and let NBC take Falcons-Panthers. Cowboys-Packers, even if both were only looking to be a wild card is still a much more marquee matchup for casual fans than Falcons-Panthers ever will.

  34. For SNF for Week 6, I would not flex out New England @ Indy, after Indy managed to survive in OT against Jax.

    My next choices for SNF in Week 6 would have followed in this order:

    Carolina(4-0) @ Seattle(2-2)
    San Diego(2-2) @ Green Bay(4-0)
    Cincinnati(4-0) @ Buffalo(2-2)
    Arizona(3-1) @ Pittsburgh(2-2)
    Washington(2-2) @ NY Jets(3-1)

    But alas, I just checked out and see no changes in the Week 6 schedule.

    On to my Week 7 SNF projections(for after Week 4):

    I would really like to see Philly @ Carolina being flexed if Philly loses at home this week vs. the Saints. That would knock Philly down to 1-4 and playing in Carolina(4-0). Though something tells me that the NFL won’t hose the fine folks of Charlotte, NC after their fine start to the season.

    My preferences for SNF go in this order:

    NY Jets(3-1) @ New England(3-0) <-a very good choice
    Dallas(2-2) @ NY Giants(2-2) <-interesting rematch from SNF from Week 1
    Oakland(2-2) @ San Diego(2-2) <-i know, i know, this will never happen

    We'll see after Week 5 what I project for Week 7.

    And we should know the protected games by CBS and FOX for Weeks 11 thru 16 pretty derned soon. Walt or Morgan or anyone, if you find out the protected list, please post it here.

    Thanks, Jeff (Go Pack Go)

  35. Here’s my take on SNF for Week 7….I think the game of Philly(2-3) @ Carolina(4-0) should be flexed in favor of NY Jets(3-1)@ New England(4-0), but now that Philly won today in pretty convincing fashion over the Aints, there’s no chance that Philly @ Carolina will be flexed out. Another reason it won’t be flexed is New England @ Indy is the Week 6 SNF game and they won’t give New England 2 of those in a row. They might have considered it had the Eagles lost today.

    And here’s my take on the Week 8 SNF game. The game currently scheduled is Green Bay(5-0) @ Denver(5-0), so this game is what one calls a 100% chance of staying as the SNF game. Only 1 other potential SNF matchup could currently get to 2 teams with a current winning record and that’s a current(5-0)Cincy @ a current(2-2)Pittsburgh and of course the Steelers could lose tomorrow @ San Diego to fall to 2-3. I have the Steelers beating the Chargers 17-14 tomorrow night. We’ll see what happens. 😉

  36. Predictions for Week 11-13

    Week 11:
    SNF: Chiefs at Chargers. Good chance of being flexed out.

    FOX has the DH. 49ers at Seahawks is the current late game. They also have Packers at Vikings. CBS has Broncos at Bears, Colts at Falcons, Bengals at Cardinals

    I think Bengals is the best game but lousy markets. I’m not sure if CBS would protect it. Depending on how the Broncos and Peyton go, that could be the day he breaks Favre’s yardage record and/or wins record. CBS probably uses a protect here but not sure which game. I think FOX uses a protect on Packers/Vikings.

    Week 12:

    SNF: Patriots at Broncos. ZERO chance of being flexed out.

    CBS has the DH and the late game is Steelers at Seahawks. I wouldn’t protect the game if I’m CBS. I hope NBC steals it so I get Brady and Manning back. No FOX game is worth protecting.

    Week 13:

    SNF: Colts at Steelers. If Luck and/or Big Ben play, probably stays. If both out, probably gets flexed out.

    FOX has the DH with the late game Eagles at Patriots. Since FOX doesn’t get many Pats games, they probably protect this one. CBS likely protects Broncos at Chargers or Jets at Giants, which if the Jets are still good might be meaningful. Look for the game that CBS doesn’t protect possibly being flexed in.

  37. Predictions for Week 14-16

    Week 14:

    SNF: Seahawks at Ravens. Good chance of being flexed out.

    FOX has the DH with the late game Cowboys at Packers. It certainly gets protected. CBS probably protects Steelers at Bengals. Falcons at Panthers is the most likely replacement game assuming FOX protects Dallas/Green Bay.

    Week 15:

    SNF: Bengals at 49ers. Good chance of being flexed out.

    CBS has the DH with Broncos at Steelers the late game. CBS certainly will protect it. Panthers at Giants and Cardinals at Eagles look like good replacement candidates depending on if the teams stay in contention. FOX may protect one and the other will go to NBC. I’d consider giving Bengals at 49ers to FOX to make up for it.

    Week 16:

    SNF: Steelers at Ravens – The last four games between the two have been in prime time. Unless the Ravens come back, it’s time to give someone else a chance.

    FOX has the DH with Packers at Cardinals the late game. FOX probably protects it. CBS likely protects Patriots at Jets. The other Panthers/ Falcons game is a possibility if NBC didn’t take the first one. If the Cowboys or Bills are still in the race, that could be a good choice to flex in. If FOX protects Dallas/Buffalo, might as well give NBC the Packers/Cardinals.

Leave a Comment