Last-Minute Remarks on SNF Week 15 Picks

Week 15 (December 15):

  • Tentative game: Minnesota @ LA Chargers
  • Prospects: 8-3 v. 4-8 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 mentioned on last week’s Watch and their records: Bills (9-3)-Steelers (7-5), Texans (8-4)-Titans (7-5), Seahawks (9-2)-Panthers (5-7), Jaguars (4-8)-Raiders (6-6), Bears (6-6)-Packers (9-3).
  • Impact of Monday Night Football: Well, it’s the Vikings and the Seahawks, but their respective games are so lopsided that the loser would be the one whose game would become more likely to be flexed in (or keep its spot in the case of the Vikings).
  • Analysis: When an otherwise serviceable tentative in Seahawks-Eagles was flexed out to make way for Packers-Niners, Seahawks fans (and front-office staff) upset at the team moving from a primetime showcase to a 10 AM PT start could take solace that the Seahawks’ clash with the Panthers, who were contending for the playoffs despite losing Cam Newton, looked likely to be flexed in in Week 15. Fast forward to now: the Panthers haven’t won a game since, as a result the Saints clinched the division as early as their Thanksgiving game with the Falcons while the Panthers are now tied with the Buccaneers (with the Bucs holding the tiebreaker!) for second in the division, and Seahawks-Panthers has become so lopsided it would be a legitimate candidate to be flexed out if it were the tentative. Based purely on record Bills-Steelers, Texans-Titans, and Bears-Packers would seem to be the favorites, and Texans-Titans can be dismissed out of hand right from the jump. Bears-Packers has the most name value and is only a half-game worse than Bills-Steelers, but NBC already showed that rivalry to kick off the season, and Fox, which probably didn’t protect it only because they have the Cowboys in their feature game, would scream bloody murder at losing it twice, once to a rare kickoff game not involving the Super Bowl champions and once to a flex. I normally dismiss the name value of the Bills, but the Steelers (despite lacking their own star quarterback) are one of the few teams that can pop a rating no matter who’s on the team, how they’re doing, or who they’re playing, and the Bills’ Thanksgiving clash did gerbonkers ratings even by the lofty standards of Cowboys Thanksgiving games, so they’re hardly chopped liver and have more national showcases coming – a Saturday NFLN clash with the Patriots the following week and a return to the playoffs as the third- or fourth-best team in the AFC. The time is ripe to give them a Sunday night showcase as well.
  • Final prediction: Buffalo Bills @ Pittsburgh Steelers.
  • Actual selection: Buffalo Bills @ Pittsburgh Steelers (matches prediction). Which was actually announced before halftime of the Sunday night game, meaning, as pointed out to me on Twitter, it came before the Patriots opened up an opportunity for the Bills to actually catch them for the division and a first-round bye. (Which, coupled with the Rams’ continued mediocrity, means the game between them might now be the most attractive of the three Week 16 Saturday NFLN games.)

3 thoughts on “Last-Minute Remarks on SNF Week 15 Picks

  1. As said in the prior thread, this was the correct move, especially once the Panthers lost again and since unless the Seahawks have the NFC West wrapped up before Week 17, their game with the 49ers is almost certain at this point to be the SNF finale.

    As for Week 16, especially if the Seahawks win tonight AND the Bears win on Thursday, Chiefs-Bears actually stays as the Week 16 SNF game and even more so if the Eagles lose, which I think would be a relief for the NFL in not having to contemplate doing a “makeup flex” to the Eagles (yanking FOX’s protection of DAL-PHI and having to do makeups for FOX) because of WHY SEA-PHI in Week 12 was flexed out and the circumstances behind such, perhaps guaranteeing the Eagles two early SNF home games next season to make it up that way and granting the Eagles an extra appearance beyond the normal limits if warranted in either of the next two seasons as a make-good. As much as the NFL supposedly can’t flex out games (and now it’s looking like it may be a moot point with DAL-PHI anyway), there were special circumstances with SEA-PHI in Week 12 as well as with SF-BAL in Week 13 I think will lead in future TV deals to where the scheduled SNF game can be made part of a doubleheader on MNF and the network losing a game because of it being compensated by being granted the Thursday night slot in Week 1 the following season (with NBC’s opening game shifted to Wednesday or even Tuesday if BOTH FOX and CBS need to be compensated with Week 1 prime time games on Wednesday and Thursday in such a scenario) and in that scenario, the Week 2 TNF game being on FOX between teams that played Wednesday or Thursday in Week 1 (with Weeks 3-4 being NFLN only OR such during the MLB playoffs), allowing for an extra TNF game on the back end in Week 16 that I suspect FOX and NFLN would take in that scenario. This SNF to MNF option would ONLY be use when a game that normally would not have been flexed out of SNF needs to be in the best overall interests of the NFL even if it means compensating FOX or CBS accordingly.

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