Yes, this is going up barely twelve hours before the start of the Sunday slate. Shrug emoji.
Since it started in its current format as the NFL’s main primetime package in 2006, the defining feature of NBC’s Sunday Night Football has been the use of flexible scheduling to ensure the best matchups and showcase the best teams as the season goes along. Well, that’s the theory, anyway; the reality has not always lived up to the initial hype and has at times seemed downright mystifying. Regardless, I’m here to help you figure out what you can and can’t expect to see on Sunday nights on NBC.
A full explanation of all the factors that go into flexible scheduling decisions can be found on my NFL Flexible Scheduling Primer, but here’s the Cliffs Notes version with all the important points you need to know:
- The season can be broken down into three different periods (four if you count the first four weeks where flexible scheduling does not apply at all) for flexible scheduling purposes, each with similar yet different rules governing them: the early flex period, from weeks 5 to 10; the main flex period, from weeks 11 to 16; and week 17. In years where Christmas forces either the Sunday afternoon slate or the Sunday night game to Saturday in Week 16, flex scheduling does not apply that week, and the main flex period begins week 10.
- In all cases, only games scheduled for Sunday may be moved to Sunday night. Thursday and Monday night games, as well as late-season Saturday games, are not affected by Sunday night flexible scheduling (discounting the “flexible scheduling” applied to Saturday of Week 16 this year and last – see below).
- During the early and main flex periods, one game is “tentatively” scheduled for Sunday night and listed with the Sunday night start time of 8:20 PM ET. This game will usually remain at that start time and air on NBC, but may be flexed out for another game and moved to 1, 4:05, or 4:25 PM ET on Fox or CBS, no less than 12 days in advance of the game.
- No more than two games can be flexed to Sunday night over the course of the early flex period. If the NFL wishes to flex out a game in the early flex period twelve days in advance, CBS and Fox may elect to protect one game each from being moved to Sunday night. This is generally an emergency valve in situations where the value of the tentative game has plummeted since the schedule was announced, namely in cases of injury to a key star player.
- CBS and Fox may also each protect games in five out of six weeks of the main flex period, but all of those protections must be submitted after week 5, week 4 in years where the main flex period begins week 10 (so it is always six weeks before the start of the main flex period).
- No team may appear more than six times across the league’s three primetime packages on NBC, ESPN, and Fox/NFL Network, and only three teams are allowed to appear that often, with everyone else getting five. In addition, no team may appear more than four times on NBC. All teams’ number of appearances heading into this season may be seen here.
- According to the league’s official page, teams are notified when “they are no longer under consideration or eligible for a move to Sunday night.” However, they rarely make this known to the fans, and the list of each network’s protections has never officially been made public. It used to leak fairly regularly, but has not leaked since 2014.
- In all cases, the NFL is the ultimate arbiter of the schedule and consults with CBS, Fox, and NBC before moving any games to prime time. If the NFL does elect to flex out the Sunday night game, the network whose game is flexed in may receive the former tentative game, regardless of which network would “normally” air it under the “CBS=AFC, Fox=NFC” rules, keeping each network’s total number of games constant. At the same time, the NFL may also move games between 1 PM ET and 4:05/4:25 PM ET. However, this feature focuses primarily if not entirely on Sunday night flexible scheduling.
- In Week 17, the entire schedule is set on only six days notice, ensuring that NBC gets a game with playoff implications, generally a game where the winner is the division champion. More rarely, NBC may also show an intra-division game for a wild card spot, or a game where only one team wins the division with a win but doesn’t win the division with a loss, but such situations are rare and last year was the first time it showed such a game. If no game is guaranteed to have maximum playoff implications before Sunday night in this fashion, the league has been known not to schedule a Sunday night game at all. To ensure maximum flexibility, no protections or appearance limits apply to Week 17. The NFL also arranges the rest of the schedule such that no team playing at 4:25 PM ET (there are no 4:05 games Week 17) could have their playoff fate decided by the outcome of the 1 PM ET games, which usually means most if not all of the games with playoff implications outside Sunday night are played at 4:25 PM ET.
Here are the current tentatively-scheduled games and my predictions:
Week 11 (November 17):
- Selected game: Chicago @ LA Rams.
Week 12 (November 24):
- Selected game: Green Bay @ San Francisco. The NFL actually carried out the ideal scenario for the entire week’s slate outside observers predicted, with Saints-Panthers being crossflexed to CBS to shore up their anemic slate. Between no announcement coming on Monday and the Seahawks winning that night, I was actually beginning to favor Seahawks-Eagles keeping its spot, and while that might have just been because of Veterans Day, the announcement ended up coming pretty late in the day on Tuesday to the point some of the people on the 506sports forums seemed to start going stir-crazy with theories and speculation, so I’m deathly curious what sort of negotiations may have taken place to cause the announcement to come so late – appeasing the Seahawks for moving a game that wouldn’t normally warrant being flexed out to the early afternoon? Compensating Fox for losing two marquee games? Fox being asked to choose whether they wanted Seahawks-Eagles or Saints-Panthers anchoring their early slate? Fox having to come to terms with the possibility of losing both Saints-Panthers matchups (see Week 17 below)? Simply sorting out the Week 16 Saturday situation so they could announce both sets of moves at the same time? At the very least, I’d love to have an alternative narrative to a certain commenter of mine who’s convinced the league was going to institute a “reverse DH” with Cowboys-Patriots at 1 and most of the rest of the slate moving to the late afternoon time slot, and needed Robert Kraft, Jerry Jones, CBS and its affiliates, the Bills (playing the Cowboys on Thanksgiving and preferring as much rest as possible), local authorities, and more to come in and put the kibosh on it, as though all those factors weren’t reason enough for the league not to have considered it in the first place – which wasn’t even the most insane proposal in last week’s comments. (Why can’t my commenters be as reasonable and sane as the ones on the 506? Granted, when the “reverse DH” idea was brought up there they weren’t immediately dismissive, which tells you how stir-crazy they were getting…)
Week 13 (December 1):
- Tentative game: New England @ Houston
- Prospects: 8-1 v. 6-3, potentially a skosh lopsided and lacking the unbeaten factor, but both teams lead their respective divisions and it’s hard to say no to Tom Brady.
- Likely protections: Raiders-Chiefs (CBS) and Niners-Ravens, Packers-Giants, or nothing (FOX).
- Other possible games: Thanksgiving weekend, paucity of good games; even with no teams on a bye (which has not always been the case on Thanksgivings past) Niners-Ravens and Raiders-Chiefs are the only games on the Sunday slate involving two teams above .500. Other than Niners-Ravens, Titans-Colts might be the best game available to NBC.
- Analysis: Niners-Ravens could be 9-1 v. 8-2, pitting two of the hottest young quarterbacks in the league, with Patriots-Texans 8-2 v. 6-4, but I don’t know if that overcomes the tentative game bias – I suspect the league is reticent to flex in the same team two weeks in a row (especially given what may have happened behind the scenes to pull it off the first time) and the Pats are the most TV-attractive team in either game. Even if Fox left it unprotected, what seems more likely is for the game to be crossflexed to CBS to anchor what’s currently an anemic doubleheader headlined by Browns-Steelers with Chargers-Broncos as a backup, though a) we just saw how the Browns could be more competitive with the Steelers than you might think, and b) Raiders-Chiefs, which might have to go to whichever network doesn’t have Niners-Ravens (unless you want to give the Bay Area a “double singleheader” or open the possibility of starting Niners-Ravens on the Bay Area’s CW station if Raiders-Chiefs goes long), is currently the best game on CBS’ slate, so they might be more inclined to move that game to the late afternoon rather than pull a more complex crossflex. But Niners-Ravens doesn’t strike me as a game that demands a larger audience the way Packers-Niners was, even leaving aside that it’s not facing the prospect of being boxed out of greater distribution by a blockbuster game between two name teams, so I don’t think they flex out a Patriots game of this caliber for it even in the best of circumstances.
- Final prediction: New England Patriots @ Houston Texans (no change).
Week 14 (December 8):
- Tentative game: Seattle @ LA Rams
- Prospects: 8-2 v. 5-4. The Seahawks could be defending a wild-card berth and contending for the division lead, but the Rams’ continued mediocrity could start making it dangerously lopsided. A potential complication: the Chargers are currently slated to play in the 4:05 ET slot on Fox, so either LA team would need to serve as a CBS undercard to Chiefs-Patriots if this is flexed out (Chargers-Jaguars could theoretically be moved to the early afternoon but that might be too complicated and still require a move to CBS or giving LA a “double singleheader”).
- Likely protections: Chiefs-Patriots (CBS) and Niners-Saints if anything (FOX).
- Other possible games: Ravens-Bills looks like the only real contender for a flex if Niners-Saints was protected; Lions-Vikings had an off chance of being the Fox protection, but that might be looking increasingly iffy now. Titans-Raiders is a dark horse.
Week 15 (December 15):
- Tentative game: Minnesota @ LA Chargers
- Prospects: 7-3 v. 4-6 continues to raise concerns about this game being concerningly lopsided. This game is back to having the worst team in any tentative in the flex period.
- Likely protections: Texans-Titans, Jaguars-Raiders, or nothing (CBS) and Rams-Cowboys if anything (FOX).
- Other possible games: Right now Seahawks-Panthers is the only game likely to overcome the tentative game bias if Rams-Cowboys was protected, though Bills-Steelers looked like a potential contender before the Thursday night game. CBS’ potentially protected games are dark horses, as is Bears-Packers, which probably would have been protected if one of the teams in Fox’s current late-afternoon feature game wasn’t the Cowboys.
Week 16 (December 22):
- Tentative game: Kansas City @ Chicago
- Prospects: The Bears might be back to having a better record than the Chargers by half a game, but it’s the circumstances surrounding the week that would make it less vulnerable.
- Likely protections: Ravens-Browns if anything (CBS) and Cowboys-Eagles (FOX).
- Other possible games: Both Bills-Patriots and Rams-Niners, the two highly attractive games that had been singled out for a potential move to NFLN on Saturday, made the move. That leaves Panthers-Colts as the only unprotected game involving two teams above .500, with Saints-Titans involving a team at that mark. Raiders-Chargers could be an intriguing dark horse, being another game that had been singled out for a move to Saturday, but if Vikings-Chargers gets flexed out the only thing it’d have going for it is being less lopsided.
- Tentative game: None (NBC will show game with guaranteed playoff implications).
- Possible games: Steelers-Ravens, Saints-Panthers, Titans-Texans, Colts-Jaguars, Chargers-Chiefs, Niners-Seahawks.
27 thoughts on “Sunday Night Football Flex Scheduling Watch: Week 10”
Week 13: As I originally said, I felt both Robert Kraft and Jerry Jones, two of the biggest lovers of late/primetime games the NFL has likely told the NFL in no uncertain terms DAL-NE in Week 12 was NOT to be moved to 1:00 PM even if it remained the main DH game, forcing what we saw that would have had to happen anyway for reasons that I now think will lead in the next TV deal to allow if a situation like DAL-NE and GB-SF on the same week in the afternoon happens again and one needs to be moved to SNF, the NFL has the right to shift a game that otherwise should not have been moved off SNF to MNF, especially if the schedule MNF game can be pushed back to a 10:20 PM start to accommodate an additional MNF game that week. Given that, I suspect Kraft probably also told the NFL that NE-HOU can’t be moved unless the Texans are that bad and obviously that is NOT the case here.
Week 14: I doubt the NFL will flex the Seahawks out of SNF a second time in three weeks, even if the Rams are out of it as I’m sure the Seahawks owners would be livid it they did and it were not deserved. Other situations might make it impossible anyway.
Week 15: If the Chargers continue to falter, I can see the NFL doing a makeup to the Seahawks for the Week 12 situation by flexing in Seahawks-Panthers so the Seahawks don’t have to play at 10:00 AM Seattle time, especially if the Panthers are in the wild card if not NFC South mix.
Week 16: I see the NFL telling FOX they can’t protect Cowboys-Eagles as the NFL may here have to again do a makeup to the Eagles (using a “protection override” if necessary) for their being flexed out in Week 12 due to circumstances beyond any demands Jones and Kraft made with DAL-NE in Week 12 that even if not the case, moving that game to 1:00 and flipping the DH would have resulted in a TON of unintended consequences that might have included FCC complaints against CBS because of CBS having to air the bulk of their singleheader games in Week 12 in the late slot and that likely pushed back to a 4:25 PM ET kickoff (with the FOX games in a reverse DH at 4:45 to assure DAL-NE ended before regional games headlined by GB-SF started), forcing in this case except where a “purgatory” 1:00 PM game was airing and on the west coast “60 Minutes” to air ahead of football at 3:00 PM Eastern/2:00 PM Central Time because of their planned lineup that night opposite the American Music Awards on ABC. “60’s” audience as noted before is the ONE audience that would complain to the FCC because its demos are by far the oldest of ANY prime time program and many of those viewers date back to the days when Sunday from 7:00-8:00 PM/6:00-7:00 CT was restricted to news and children’s programming and they are more vocal about stuff like that. If the Bears continue to falter, I see the NFL doing this to appease certain Eagles fans who lost a primetime appearance that again I see in a future TV contract winding up where under such circumstances such game can be moved to Monday Night Football.
Week 17: As long as the Seahawks and 49ers are within a game of each other AND that game is for the NFC West (and even more if its for the #1 seed) OR the #1 seed is on the line for either team AND a wild card is on the line for the other, THAT is the Sunday Night finale.
For those who say the NFL could not move a game from Sunday to Monday night, had ABC retained what then was Monday Night Football, beginning with the 2006 season the NFL was actually going to begin flexing games from Sunday afternoon to Monday Night and vice versa. The only reason NBC got that package (that became Sunday Night Football because NBC had a powerful Monday night lineup at the time) was because Disney was losing $150 Million a year on that version of MNF whereas even with a weaker schedule (but a considerably beefed up version of ESPN’s old Sunday Night package), the ESPN version of Monday Night Football brings in a ton of revenue because of what Disney can charge cable operators and so forth.
I’m guessing Niners Ravens gets flexed to 4:25 week 13, only reason I can see Browns Steelers staying is the drama aspect
What I have learned from the comments section:
1) Yes NFL will flex Sunday to Monday night.
2) NFL will put the main game at 1 pm Eastern.
3) Local city officials influence Roger Goodell and crew.
4) 60 Minutes does influence the NFL flex.
5) Jets vs Raiders was going to be flexed in but the guy in the parking lot of Met Life had the wrong year, 2021.
6) Seattle will be SNF game in week 14, 15, and 17 (and maybe 16?)
SNF remains the same, Patriots-Texans
CBS moves Raiders-Chiefs to 4:25 pm ET to lead its late-afternoon doubleheader
Browns-Steelers, despite the fireworks last TNF, moves to the early window 1:00 pm ET on CBS
49ers-Ravens remains on FOX at 1:00 pm ET
(Least amount of moving parts in this scenario, FOX would complain about losing SF-BAL, and CBS can easily move OAK-KC to the late afternoon to showcase Mahomes in a divisional game featuring AFC playoff implications)
Seahawks-Rams stays on SNF
49ers-Saints remains FOX’s lead singleheader game at 1:00 pm ET
Chiefs-Patriots is a CBS protection and leads the late afternoon doubleheader
(I’m guessing FOX protected SF-NO following week 5, there’s no other NFC game FOX would want to protect in week 14; also don’t think BAL-BUF is big enough to bump out SEA-LAR in SNF)
Little too far out to predict at this point; this largely depends on if the Chargers are still in the playoff hunt. If so, NBC might keep MIN-LAC in SNF. But if the Chargers continue to stumble, flex options include Bills-Steelers, Texans-Titans, or Seahawks-Panthers (FOX has Cowboys-Rams protected)
Looks like Chicago’s playoff hopes are over, so it would seem Chiefs-Bears is a prime candidate to be flexed out. However, there’s not a lot of great flex options in week 16. Even if the Browns made some sort of late season push, I’m guessing CBS protected the Ravens-Browns rematch way back in week 5. Also, there is a 0% chance Cowboys-Eagles gets flexed to SNF. FOX has protected Cowboys-Eagles and there’s no way the NFL would force a “protection override” here. NBC has already had Cowboys-Eagles once this season, so zero shot the NFL would take away the rematch away from FOX. This game will likely decide the NFC East and has ratings gold written all over it for FOX. Therefore, the only potential games the NFL could flex to SNF are either Saints-Titans or Panthers-Colts. I’m sure NBC would hate to lose a Mahomes game on SNF, but if the Bears continue to be this bad the NFL may have no choice
If 49ers-Seahawks is for the NFC West title (even if both teams have clinched playoff berths), then that’s the SNF game of week 17. The other SNF possibility is one of the AFC South games, Titans-Texans or Colts-Jaguars. One of those matchups could be for the AFC South or final wild card spot in the AFC
The NFL really has a pickle for Week 14, and I’m interested to see what they do. Assuming Saints and 49ers win in Week 12, then, the NFL will have to decide if the matchup that would likely determine the NFC 1 seed deserves to move to SNF, which is part of the rationale behind having a flexible schedule. Let’s say the NFL says no, then a game with giant playoff implications gets moderate distribution in the early window of the non-double header network.
Now let’s say they flex in SF-NO. By “rule”, then, SEA-LAR goes to Fox. Because the Rams will host at home, the game has to be shown at 4:05. That forces the LAC to move to 1pm, and it would have to move to CBS, since CBS has the double header. Then the NFL would have to move either TEN-OAK or PIT-AZ to the late window on Fox. CBS might like this setup, as it could clear KC-NE in more markets. Fox won’t, as none of the remaining early games have any real intrigue, beyond perhaps WAS-GB just banking on name power, and it has to bury Seattle in the late afternoon single header purgatory slot.
Now let’s say the NFL flexes SF-NO, but says SEA-LAR gets cross flexed to CBS. Again, it has to go to 425 because the Rams are at home. That will force the Chargers game again to 1pm. The NFL will cross flex TEN-OAK or PIT-AZ to the late window on Fox. CBS likely isn’t enamored with this result, either, as it will have to clear SEA-LAR in some of the biggest markets, diluting the viewership of their flagship game. Fox again loses a key match up and still has the issue of no true anchor game in their early window.
It will be really interesting to see how the NFL handles this situation. Unlike the flex situation in week 12 where Fox kept 2 games with national appeal, CBS gained 1 game with national appeal, and NBC got a great game with huge playoff implications, it doesn’t seem like Week 14 has the ability to move things around that keeps everyone happy.
You gotta assume the NFL is trying to get Niners Ravens or Raiders Chiefs to take over Browns Steelers for America’s game of the week. I think they will move Niners Ravens to that slot, absolutely no chance Patriots Texans gets flexed out of primetime ….. Also for Week 14 I think it’s very likely Seahawks Rams stays after the Rams win last night and Week 15 depends on if the Chargers beat the Chiefs tonight
Confirmed: Pats-Texans stays on SNF, with Raiders-Chiefs audibled into the late doubleheader leadoff. Niners-Ravens remains the 1pm highlight on FOX, presumably getting widespread distribution. (And a Buck/Aikman booth? Normally FOX seem to give them the weekend off in singleheader weeks…)
I presume Seahawks-Rams will stay in week 14 after last night; the Rams are very much in the teeth of a ferocious fight for the 6 seed. I wonder if part of the quid pro quo for the Seahawks having an SNF tentative moved to 10am PT was the reverse process in week 15? Seahawks-Panthers isn’t a particularly great option, but it’s clearly better than the Viking invasion of ROKiT Field at Dignity Health Sports Park (yes, really), and I say this as one of the ten Chargers fans.
As for week 16, I don’t think Chiefs Bears stands a chance unless Mitch somehow turns it on since he was disgusting to watch in primetime last night. I think Panthers Colts is the most likely scenario, with Saints Titans or Raiders Chargers as another option…. Ravens Browns, Steelers Jets are dark horses ( if the Browns and Jets get back into contention )
The NFL I think might have to do a “protection override” of Cowboys-Eagles from FOX to NBC to give the Eagles back an SNF game they under normal circumstances would not have had taken away from them.
Keeping SEA-PHI on SNF would have resulted potentially CBS being hit with massive fines by the FCC because of having to air “60 Minutes” in much of the country at 3:00 PM ET/2:00 PM CT (due to many older viewers complaining to the FCC about that) because most of the country would have had the CBS SH game at most likely 4:25 PM (pushed back from 4:05) due to DAL-NE being the main DH game at 1:00 PM (1:00 being treated like 4:25 in that scenario with the regional games on FOX headed by GB-SF at 4:45) to make sure DAL-NE finished before the regional games started. The FCC might have then come after the NFL and more greatly enforced the old rules where 7:00-8:00 PM on Sunday night was restricted to news and children’s programming and there lied a potentially huge unintended consequence of keeping SEA-PHI on SNF. That’s why I think the NFL may have to use to a “protection override” and put DAL-PHI in Week 16 on SNF so the Eagles get that primetime appearance back because there were a potential huge avalanche of problems if the NFL had kept SEA-PHI on SNF that went WAY beyond any gain in the primetime ratings from not keeping GB-SF on FOX and moving DAL-NE to 1:00 PM while keeping it the main game.
No NBC Can Not Flex The 2nd Meeting Between The Cowboys and Eagles Cause they already aired the first meeting 4 weeks ago
Hi, Andrew. Even though between the cowboys and eagles cannot be flexed to NBC again this season since they faced each other on Sunday night football 4 weeks ago, you don’t think the Packers vs. Bears game at Lambeau Field be flexed to SNF next month, do you? I heard about the possibility of Packers vs. Bears game at Lambeau Field could be flexed to Sunday night football NBC next month because of the drawing power.
If in fact the NFL did have to do a “protection override” of DAL-PHI in Week 16 to NBC in order to give the Eagles their primetime game back, the NFL could compensate FOX by letting them take Rams-49ers on Saturday in prime time from NFL Network (or that becomes a FOX/NFL Network simulcast), with next season, NFL Network getting Saturday tripleheaders in Weeks 15 & 16 (this is the only year where the NFL and college football schedules are such where the NFL could only do Saturday games in Week 16) and also get a Friday night game in Week 16 involving teams that played on Saturday in Week 15 to make up for giving FOX Rams-49ers this season because having to override a protection of DAL-PHI in Week 16 due to what happened in Week 12 that I think in the future can be remidied by moving such an SNF game to MNF when warranted.
The NFL can and will flex the second meeting of teams to SNF even if they played on SNF the first time. As noted, this would be a special circumstance caused by the Eagles being flexed out in Week 12 because doing a reverse DH where DAL-NE was at 1:00 PM as the main game with practically all other games (save for a couple of “purgatory” 1:00 PM ET games on CBS) shifted to what would have likely become 4:25 on CBS/4:45 on FOX games just to keep SEA-PHI on SNF could have resulted in CBS facing massive fines from the FCC for having to shift “60 Minutes” in most of the country to 3:00 PM ET/2:00 PM CT ahead of the CBS SH game. THAT’s why the NFL might have to make it up to the Eagles by giving them the Week 16 flex even if it violates normal rules and the NFL as noted has to compensate FOX by giving them Rams-49ers on Saturday night in Week 16 and NFL getting extra games next season to compensate in turn for losing that game. That’s also why I think if the Chargers falter, the NFL makes it up to the Seahawks by moving SEA-CAR in Week 15 to prime time.
1) At no point did the NFL ever discuss moving Cowboys-Patriots off of 4:25 pm ET. That late afternoon slot is the prime ratings window for FOX’s game of the week. Your narrative of the NFL making a complicated “reverse DH” maneuver for Cowboys-Patriots, and moving a bunch of 1:00 pm ET CBS/FOX games to the 4:05/4:25 pm ET slot, is inaccurate.
2) The NFL does not owe the Eagles anything for flexing them out of SNF. If anybody should be mad, it’s the Seahawks for now having to play a 10:00 am PT game on the East Coast. The NFL does not do primetime “makeups” in the middle of the season for 5-5 teams. Seahawks-Eagles was just a casualty of Packers-49ers being a better game, and the NFL making sure Packers-49ers didn’t get stuck in limited distribution behind Cowboys-Patriots
3) The NFL will not to use a “protection override” for week 16 Cowboys-Eagles. This is FOX’s game of the week, and could be FOX’s biggest ratings game this regular season, only behind Cowboys-Patriots or Packers-Cowboys. The NFL almost never flexes a protected CBS/FOX game to SNF. The one example Morgan mentioned of a “protection override” was a singleheader game, not a lead 4:25 pm ET game that headlines CBS/FOX’s late afternoon window. Also, FOX execs would be furious if they lost both Eagles-Cowboys games to NBC this year
4) Rams-49ers week 16 is staying on NFLN Saturday at 8:15 pm ET. Once the NFL bookmarked Rams-49ers and the two other NFLN games for Saturday, they are no longer in consideration to be moved to Sunday
5) The NFL does not care about 60 Minutes, and the FCC is not going to fine CBS or the NFL if 60 Minutes doesn’t start on time
Under normal circumstances, yes, but I also know based on past history, and especially with “60 Minutes” having the ONLY audience of ANY show that WOULD complain to the FCC over when it airs because of the nature of THAT PARTICULAR audience, which is much older than ANY OTHER prime time show, doesn’t care about sports the way later generations do and goes back to when Sunday 7:00-8:00 PM ET/PT was in fact restricted that CBS would likely have faced big fines from the FCC had “60” been forced to the afternoon because of most of the CBS SH games at 4:25/4:35 (and in NYC having to air in the overnight hours). That audience is small, but extremely vocal on stuff like that and they would complain en masse about something like that to the FCC to the point even where Trump (who is widely believed by some, especially Stephen A. Smith to have a long-running vendetta against the NFL dating back to 1986 when he attempted to force a merger between the NFL and USFL, something SAS has noted on his ESPN Radio show) got involved.
The NFL was in a bad spot. They could have moved DAL-NE to 1:00, kept GB-SF in the late slot (moved back to 4:45) and if necessary moved ALL of the other games to CBS (actually giving NYC a “double singleheader” most likely with Giants-Bears first followed by Raiders-Jets pushed back to 4:35 with all other CBS games at 4:25 other than “purgatory”) with 1:00 PM considered “purgatory” for CBS and FOX getting two full national games: DAL-NE at 1:00 AND GB-SF at 4:45, most likely with SEA-PHI pushed back to 8:50 so NBC gets its full pregame show after GB-SF ends EXCEPT for “60 Minutes” I believe having to be completed airing by 9:00 PM ET because much of that particular audience goes to bed early. “60’s” audience is that vocal about it and CBS I believe gets only one or two waivers a year on that at most, and if it’s one it’s used for the pre-Grammys show.
As for LAR-SF, that would STAY on Saturday night, BUT FOX would get that game (either by itself or simulcast with NFL Network) as compensation for losing DAL-PHI to SNF in order for the NFL to make up to the Eagles a prime time appearance they lost due to in this case the likelihood of CBS and the NFL being in hot water with the FCC if they went the route of a reverse DH just to keep SEA-PHI on SNF (and as noted, give NFL Network next season tripleheaders in Weeks 15 & 16 AND a Friday night game in Week 16 involving teams that played on Saturday in Week 15 if FOX took LAR-SF on Saturday night as compensation for losing DAL-PHI). The NFL can if need be further compensate FOX by giving them the late Sunday slot (4:40 WC/6:40 Div & Conf Championship) on ALL playoff rounds this year and if need be next year as well for losing DAL-PHI to SNF due to what happened in Week 12 (and if necessary, perhaps next year let CBS have Saturday night in Week 16).
I don’t think you realize how vocal “60’s” audience is about that show airing when its supposed to. It’s the one reason prior to this year the NFL has not moved the Divisional round of the Playoffs on Sunday to 3:00/6:30 knowing CBS, even when it made more sense like the time where otherwise, there was one year where FOX could have had GB-ARI in one wild card playoff game at 2:00 PM and a game in San Diego on CBS at 5:30 PM ET (I remember this because FOX had promised at buyers the previous May at the UP FRONTS they would have the Divisional playoff game in the late Sunday slot that season). CBS specifically cited 60 Minutes as the reason and that’s why I discovered how vocal those viewers really are.
That part about the Divisional game was DAL-MIN that would have been the late game the following week in the Divisional playoffs but because the NFL was forced by CBS due to 60 Minutes to have the WC game on FOX a week earlier, that divisional game had to be at 1:00 PM.
Still leaning toward no more flexes until Week 17 – Vikings-Chargers and Chiefs-Bears obviously won’t be the strongest matchups, but I don’t see another non-protected game that would clearly beat either one ratings-wise. Maybe Bills-Steelers in Week 15 would be the exception if the Steelers win the next two weeks, but even then would NBC be champing at the bit to flex in Josh Allen and Mason Rudolph?
The FCC didn’t not fine CBS in 1982 for airing the Cowboys-49ers NFC Championship game, And that game dates back to the days when Sunday from 7:00-8:00 PM/6:00-7:00 CT was restricted to news and children’s programming, but the NFL had to ask CBS to push “60 Minutes” back because otherwise, i believe the Chargers-Bengals game would have conflicted with church services in the Midwest. Did the FCC fine them? No. Did they do that to NBC with the NBA Finals? No. Just because the 7:00-8:00 PM/6:00-7:00 CT was restricted to news and children’s programming, didn’t mean they could put sports events there, it just didn’t happen too much.
Jay and Daniel:
After the Cowboys-49ers NFC Championship game in January 1982, the NFL was forced to as I remember move up the Sunday playoff games to 12:30 and 4:00 PM ET (from 1:00 and 5:00 PM ET) because of complaints from various groups over such running well past 7:00 PM and even 8:00 PM. Religious organizations had a much greater say at that time and even now, there are religious groups who associate pro sports with gambling to the point where they won’t let their kids watch pro sports because of that (though that isn’t close to what it once was in that regard, the January 1983 conference title games were on different days due to the NFL strike that year that caused them to be a week later when networks had prior programming scheduled). The lone exception for years after that was January 1990 (1989 season) when both Conference Title games being west of the Central Time Zone forced the games to be at 1:30 and 5:00 PM over the objections of some groups (and even to do that, as I remember the NFL had to get permission from local officials to start the AFC Title game in Denver at 11:30 AM local time) as the NFL would have had issues if they had gone at 3:00 and 6:30 PM Eastern Time as they now do for the Conference Title games and this year on Sunday for the first time the Divisional round). That only changed on Saturday to 4:30 and 8:00 in January 2002 when the NFL season was delayed a week by 9/11, forcing the Divisional round to be on the original weekend of the conference title games and other events had previously been scheduled. The following year that began to be the case on Saturday for the Wild Card round as well but Sunday for the Wild Card and Divisional rounds remained earlier, though moved to 1:00 and 4:30 (before as noted this year the Divisional round being on Sunday at 3:00 and 6:30, they only didn’t do it both weekends due to the Golden Globe Awards on NBC being WC Sunday and that is a difficult event to move to say Wednesday to accommodate later kickoffs on Sunday, especially with the CFB title game that Monday).
Those are a lot of “60’s” viewers and what I talk about when I say the NFL had to do what it did in Week 12 as opposed to not PO’ing the Seahawks and their fans keeping SEA-PHI on Sunday Night Football while moving DAL-NE to 1:00 PM while keeping it the main DH game and moving most other games to 4:25/4:45 PM (again, I suspect in future TV deals there will be provisions to move such a game that under normal circumstances would not have been moved off SNF to MNF even if the MNF game has to move to Sunday OR as likely would have been the case this week become the second game of a DH on ESPN with SEA-PHI at 7:10 and BAL-LAR at 10:25). These viewers are the one who would have loudly complained to the FCC about CBS having to air “60 Minutes” in much of the country at 3:00 PM ET due to having almost all of its SH games at 4:25 instead of 1:00 due to the DH for one week being reversed and causing the FCC to likely fine CBS heavily for not airing “60” when it was supposed to air, leading to potentially other problems for BOTH CBS and the NFL. THAT’s why in this case, citing extremely unusual circumstances that forced SEA-PHI to be moved to 1:00 PM because of unintended consequences of flipping the DH as noted, the NFL does a “protection override” to give the Eagles their Sunday night home game back at the expense of FOX and compensates FOX by letting them have LAR-SF as a standalone Saturday night game on FOX (or simulcast on FOX and NFL Network) AND all three late Sunday playoff games for this season and possibly next (with NFL Network getting a Week 16 Friday night game and there being Saturday tripleheaders in Weeks 15-16 next season (week 16 Friday game between teams who played Saturday in Week 15) with all three Saturday games in Week 15 on NFL Network and also Week 16 though the prime time game next year in Week 16 on Saturday could be given to CBS to even things out).
If any game gets flexed in for Week 15, it’s Seahawks-Panthers as a makeup to the Seahawks for being screwed out of this Sunday night for reasons well noted already.
Walt I don’t know why you think the NFL needs to make up for lost primetime games, and also the reverse double-header was never ever going to happen, the NFL is not just gonna move several games from 1:00 to 4:05 or 4:25 that would cause major backlash against the NFL. Cowboys Eagles is staying on FOX week 16 and if Seahawks Panthers does get flexed week 15 it will be because it could have wild card implications
I was going to post my final comments about Week 13 SNF Flex Scheduling, but the NFL announced the final Week 13 schedule earlier in the day. No change to SNF, as NE(9-1) @ Hou(6-4) remained the choice. However there were 2 changes and is essentially a flip of games. Oak(6-4) @ KC(7-4), but 6-4 at the time moved from the early slot to late slot and Clev(4-6) @ Pitt(5-5) moved from the late slot to the early slot.
Here’s what my choices would have been for Week 13, in order of ranking:
#1 – SF(9-1) @ Balt(8-2) <—should be fun, but I see Baltimore winning
#2 – Oak(6-4) @ KC(7-4) <—winner leads AFC West
#3 – NE(9-1) @ Hou(6-4) <—the tentative and likely a blowout game
#4 – Tenn(5-5) @ Ind(6-4) <—highly important game in the AFC South
Here are my current thoughts on Weeks 14 to 17:
Week 14 by order of ranking:
#1 – SF(9-1) @ NO(8-2) <—should be a great game
#2 – Sea(8-2) @ LAR(6-4) <—the tentative that was a Thursday Night Football classic earlier this season
#3 – Balt(8-2) @ Buff(7-3) <—I like the Bills, but I see this being pretty ugly for them, though perhaps home field might help some
#4 – KC(7-4) @ NE(9-1) <—not sure about KC right now and the Patriots are just solid, but not dominant. Pats will win, especially since it's at home
#5 – Tenn(5-5) @ Oak(6-4) <—could be a huge game in the Wild Card chase
Week 15 by order of ranking:
#1 – LAR(6-4) @ Dal(6-4) <—could be huge for both teams
#2 – Buff(7-3) @ Pitt(5-5) <—another one of those games that the Bills will have to win to get some respect. Can they do it?
#3 – Hou(6-4) @ Tenn(5-5) <—all the AFC South keeps doing is eating their division leader and no one pulls away
#4 – Sea(8-2) @ Car(5-5) <—this might not be on my list soon, as the Panthers are in the middle of their late season swoon, like last season
Minn(8-3) @ LAC(4-7) <—the tentative that is lopsided, though the Chargers never get blown out. Please don't stick us with this NFL.
Week 16 options:
Car(5-5) @ Ind(6-4), NO(8-2) @ Tenn(5-5), & Dal(6-4) @ Phil(5-5)
KC(7-4) @ Chi(4-6) <—the tentative and if Bears lose their next 2 to the Giants and Lions, then this needs to be flexed out. I don't see that happening though. They'll win at least 1, if not both of those games and this will stay. Plus, my other options are close to not being options at all.
Week 17 options:
Tenn(5-5) @ Hou(6-4), Pitt(5-5) @ Balt(8-2), NO(8-2) @ Car(5-5), & SF(9-1) @ Sea(8-2).
49ers/Seahawks is by FAR the most desirable game for Week 17 so far. The AFC South matchup of Titans/Texans could be a win and in/lose and out. We'll see. Saints/Panthers won't matter likely, as Saints will likely have the NFC South clinched and the Panthers will be wondering what happened to their season, again. Steelers/Ravens might be huge, if the Steelers get back on track.
Due to these 4 games likely affecting the playoff seedings in a big way and needing to be played at the same time as other games, there's a chance we could have a repeat of 2017 and have no Week 17 Sunday Night Football game. I hope not!
Go Pack Go this week in Frisco in the flexed in Sunday Night Football game!!! 🙂
Again, these are NOT regular circumstances. I’m sure Jeff Lurie (Eagles owner) was PO’ed about the move to 1:00 PM though he would likely have understand the potential huge consequences against the NFL if they did everything that would have been necessary to keep SEA-PHI on SNF and I would think he would want Cowboys-Eagles moved to primetime to make up for that even if it meant the NFL having to compensate FOX with their getting the Saturday Week 16 primetime game (or simulcast on FOX and NFL Network) PLUS ALL late Sunday playoff games this year and ALL late Sunday playoff games again next year to make up to FOX for losing such, with the NFL explaining to FOX this has to be done due to the Eagles undeservingly losing a home prime time game because of otherwise having to reverse the DH which would have likely resulted in CBS being hit with heavy fines from the FCC for reasons noted.
This would likely be a one-time only situation in doing an in-season make-good even if it POs people at FOX because I’m sure even those at FOX realize if they had kept both DAL-NE and GB-SF (with SEA-PHI remaining on Sunday night) it would have resulted in having to reverse the DH and causing unintended consequences against the NFL that might have even seen Trump get involved because many of “60s” viewers are in the main demo that put Trump over the top: Those who were looking for a return to the 1950’s and ’60s when many of them thrived and as noted the belief of many Trump has a long-running vendetta against the NFL. It it were not for THESE circumstances, THIS would never come up, and is why I suspect we will in future TV deals have provisions to shift a game from SNF to MNF if such a situation ever arises again.
I still think unless the Bears get their act together real fast, the NFL may be forced to do a makeup flex of DAL-PHI to SNF to give the Eagles back the home SNF game they lost in Week 12 due to well noted circumstances.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Jeff Lurie loves having Seahawks-Eagles flexed out of Sunday night because he’s now playing a team whose internal body clocks are reading 10 AM. I really don’t think the flex discussions are quiiiiite as drama-filled as they are in your head, or that teams place as much importance on playing in primetime as it may once have seemed. Have we even had “make-up flexes” with the previous times not-that-bad games were flexed out to give another game a wider audience? I’m sure the likelihood of Seahawks-Panthers being flexed in helped soften the blow with the Seahawks front office, but the idea that the Eagles need a “make-up flex” is preposterous, much less that it would be the Cowboys game which would piss Fox off no end.
Good points Morgan!
I would also like to point out to our commentator friend that the late doubleheader for FOX and CBS at 4:25 pm ET is actually a better ratings window than SNF at 8:20 pm ET. In fact, the FOX/CBS late doubleheader game has beaten NBC’s SNF head-to-head in the ratings 10 out of 11 weeks so far this season (info courtesy Sports Media Watch)
Just another reason why a 1:00 pm ET “reverse DH” for Cowboys-Patriots WAS NEVER a discussion for the NFL… and one more reason why week 16 Cowboys-Eagles IS NOT leaving FOX for SNF (besides the fact it’s a FOX protection, and the NFL wouldn’t do FOX dirty by flexing out a protected Cowboys-Eagles game and giving it to NBC a second time)