Sunday Night Football Flex Scheduling Watch: Week 8

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 17; and week 18. 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. Note: This year NBC’s press release indicated that the main flex period begins in Week 11 even though Christmas falls on Sunday. I’m assuming this is correct and the result of NBC still being able to have six weeks in the main flex period despite this because of the expansion of the season.
  • In all cases, only games scheduled for Sunday may be moved to Sunday night. Thursday and Monday night games are not affected by Sunday night flexible scheduling (discounting the “flexible scheduling” applied to Saturdays in December in recent years – 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, historically 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 18, 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 2018 and 2020, respectively, were the first times it showed such games. 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, except for two games moved to Saturday to be simulcast on ESPN and ABC.

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

Week 11 (November 20):

  • Tentative game: Cincinnati @ Pittsburgh
  • Prospects: 4-4 v. 2-6. The Bengals are looking decidedly mediocre while the Steelers are in last place in the division.
  • Likely protections: Chiefs-Chargers or Cowboys-Vikings (CBS) and Bears-Falcons, Rams-Saints, or nothing (FOX).
  • Other possible games: Either of CBS’ potentially protected games would be very strong; Chiefs-Chargers pits the top two teams in the AFC West after the barnburner they put on to start Amazon’s TNF slate, while Cowboys-Vikings is 6-2 v. 6-1 (and probably more likely to be protected, because Cowboys). Jets-Patriots is the only other game on the slate involving two teams at .500 or better, with Eagles-Colts involving a team a half-game behind that mark but probably too lopsided to be relevant, and any other games running out of time and being behind too many other games.
  • Analysis: We’re actually at the point where Chiefs-Chargers at 5-2 v. 4-3 isn’t that much better than Jets-Patriots at 5-3 v. 4-4. Assuming Cowboys-Vikings is protected (or that the NFL does CBS a solid by letting them keep it no matter what; note that the Cowboys would be maxed out on both general primetime and NBC appearances with a flex), I would imagine that all else being equal, the league would rather give NBC Jets-Patriots as they might have larger fanbases, both Chiefs and Chargers would be maxed out on primetime appearances with a flex (though so would the Patriots), and it allows CBS to keep one half of a divisional rivalry. On the other hand, CBS might be fine with losing Chiefs-Chargers if it means more markets get Cowboys-Vikings, since Jets-Patriots can be played in the early slot and Chiefs-Chargers can’t. What gives me pause is that the Chiefs and Chargers might be the likeliest of the potentially-maxed-out teams to be flexed in again later in the season, but the Chiefs aren’t particularly likely as their best chance would involve the Cowboys being flexed out. Dolphins-Chargers Week 14 might be more of a concern, as it’s fairly mediocre and behind two very strong alternatives, but both of them have decent chances to be protected and the Broncos are struggling enough that Dolphins-Chargers might still be flexed in if it’s the best unprotected option, and with the Broncos on post-London bye they don’t have a chance to prove they’re good enough not to be flexed out. I don’t know that Chiefs-Broncos is particularly likely to be flexed out in favor of Dolphins-Chargers (even though both games have juicy quarterback matchups), and the Chargers’ game against the Rams might itself be flexed out later in the year, but if the Patriots win to climb above .500 I wouldn’t be surprised to see Jets-Patriots flexed in. If it is, though, I’m taking that as confirmation of the Week 14 protections, even though there could be other reasons to flex that game in.
  • Final prediction: Kansas City Chiefs @ Los Angeles Chargers (if Cowboys-Vikings is protected); Dallas Cowboys @ Minnesota Vikings (if it isn’t).

Week 12 (November 27):

  • Tentative game: Green Bay @ Philadelphia
  • Prospects: 3-5 v. 7-0, definitely lopsided but still pitting Aaron Rodgers against the league’s last unbeaten team, and the name value of the teams involved may yet save this game despite some decent alternatives.
  • Likely protections: Ravens-Jaguars, Bengals-Titans, Chargers-Cardinals, or nothing (CBS) and Rams-Chiefs, Saints-49ers, or nothing (FOX).
  • Other possible games: Thanksgiving weekend, paucity of good games; Bengals-Titans and Falcons-Warnocks are the only Sunday games involving two teams at or above .500, with Rams-Chiefs not too far behind. Bears-Jets, Chargers-Cardinals, and Saints-Niners are dark horses.

Week 13 (December 4):

  • Tentative game: Indianapolis @ Dallas
  • Prospects: 3-4-1 v. 6-2. Getting lopsided, but a good Cowboys team is almost certainly not being flexed out.
  • Likely protections: Jets-Vikings, Chiefs-Bengals, or nothing (CBS) and Titans-Eagles or Dolphins-49ers (FOX).
  • Other possible games: Jets-Vikings and Titans-Eagles both pit two teams above .500, with Chiefs-Bengals, Genericnames-Giants and Dolphins-Niners involving teams at that mark and Seahawks-Rams just a bit behind. Broncos-Ravens is a dark horse while Packers-Bears at this point is only worth mentioning because of the name value of the teams and rivalry.

Week 14 (December 11):

  • Tentative game: Kansas City @ Denver
  • Prospects: 5-2 v. 3-5. The Broncos are not living up to the hype of Russell Wilson’s arrival, needing a late comeback to beat the 2-6 Jaguars in London, and this game could still be concerningly lopsided.
  • Likely protections: Jets-Bills or Dolphins-Chargers (CBS) and Bucs-49ers or Eagles-Giants (FOX).
  • Other possible games: Eagles-Giants and Jets-Bills would be surefire picks to be flexed in at the moment if they’re left unprotected; see above on Dolphins-Chargers’ chances if they are. Browns-Bengals has joined Bucs-49ers as dark horses.

Week 15 (December 18):

  • Tentative game: New England @ Las Vegas
  • Prospects: 4-4 v. 2-5, not exactly what NBC was hoping for but reasonably resilient to a potential flex given the name value of the teams and this being the week with a flexed-in Saturday slate.
  • Likely protections: Probably Titans-Chargers (CBS) and Cowboys-Jaguars, Eagles-Bears, or nothing (FOX).
  • Other possible games: As usual, assuming the games set aside for a potential move to Saturday can’t be protected; Dolphins-Bills is the clear favorite on the slate right now, while Giants-Riveras might actually have passed Colts-Vikings for the next best game. Unfortunately Titans-Chargers is the only other game on the Sunday slate pitting two teams above .500, with Bengals-Bucs, Eagles-Bears, and the remaining two potential Saturday games (Ravens-Browns and Falcons-Saints) as the most viable dark horses, likely leaving NBC stuck.

Week 17 (January 1):

  • Tentative game: LA Rams @ LA Chargers
  • Prospects: 3-4 v. 4-3. Decidedly mediocre, but still good enough to keep its spot as long as there isn’t some game that absolutely demands to be flexed in.
  • Likely protections: Vikings-Packers (CBS) and Saints-Eagles, Jets-Seahawks, or nothing (FOX).
  • Other possible games: Jets-Seahawks is the only game on the Sunday slate pitting two teams above .500; 5-3 v. 5-3 might not be enough to overcome the tentative game bias yet but it might not be that far off. Meanwhile, Colts-Giants might be too lopsided and Dolphins-Patriots might not be much if anything of an improvement. Cardinals-Falcons, Broncos-Chiefs, Saints-Eagles, and Browns-VoteDemocrats are dark horses.

Week 18 (January 8):

  • Playoff positioning watch begins Week 9.

50 thoughts on “Sunday Night Football Flex Scheduling Watch: Week 8

  1. Updated repost from earlier threads:

    Week 11: Bengals-Steelers could be flexed out as the Steelers could be 2-6 by the time this decision has to be made (Steelers have their bye in Week 9). We could see Chargers-Chiefs moved to SNF because CBS already has Cowboys-Vikings in the 4:25 PM ET slot and that is likely the game CBS protects that week (and yes, I know the earlier Chiefs-Chargers matchup was week 2 on Amazon Prime but last year ESPN/ABC had BOTH Eagles-Cowboys games). NBC could flex Jets-Patriots, but it would mean NBC would have the Pats on TWICE in five days since they also play Thanksgiving night in Minnesota and I doubt Robert Kraft or Bill Belicheck wants the Pats playing in prime time on Sunday night and playing again four nights later even though that is also a prime time game (and the Pats also host the Bills the following Thursday night on Amazon Prime with those teams playing on normal rest and the Pats are already scheduled for four straight prime time games since they also are at Arizona in Week 14 on MNF and Las Vegas in Week 15 on SNF, and I don’t know if the NFL would put the Pats in prime time potentially for five consecutive weeks).

    Week 12: Even if the Pack falters, this is unlikely to be changed because there are no other suitable games to do it with, though with the Packers seemingly in freefall and if they lose to the Lions, the worst team in the NFL this week they REALLY would show to be in total freefall as they could finish 5-12. If the Pack loses this week to the Lions and next week to the Cowboys and are 3-7 when the decision has to be made AND the Commanders continue to win as they have (4-4 after a 1-4 start), I could see Falcons-Commanders wind up on SNF simply because the NFC South could easily be won with a 7-10 or 8-9 record AND the Commanders are actually at the moment tied with the 49ers at 4-4 for the last playoff spot (49ers have the tiebreaker). If the Commanders beat the Vikings this week AND the Packers lose both of their next two games, I suspect Falcons-Commanders becomes SNF because there is NO WAY FOX would have protected that game with the Commanders 1-4 at the time they did (and the Commanders would be no worse than 5-5 when that decision has to be made).

    Week 13: Cowboys could keep this game on SNF, however, the Colts have been so putrid they could easily be 3-6-1 when this decision has to be made. It’s quite possible if the Titans keep winning (and ESPECIALLY if Packers-Eagles is flexed out of SNF due to the Pack’s problems) that Titans-Eagles replaces Colts-Cowboys on SNF and CBS makes Colts-Cowboys their main 1:00 PM ET game that week.

    Week 14: Broncos have been a massive disappointment and I could see if the Giants continue to play like they are AND it’s not protected by FOX Eagles-Giants moved to SNF. Otherwise, Dolphins-Chargers, currently in 4:05 purgatory could be moved to SNF and even if CBS has to move another game to 4:05 to replace it there.

    Week 15: Pats-Raiders on really shaky ground as the Raiders are not only 2-5 it looks like Josh McDaniels could be fired before this game takes place. If the Giants and Commanders keep winning, there is a very likely possibility that Giants-Commanders becomes SNF because both would be in playoff contention even if the Giants come back to earth a bit after their start.

    Week 16 doesn’t have a flex. This is where the NFL should have had the bulk of the games on Monday, December 26 (day after Christmas that is the actual legal holiday for such) though as noted I suspect the station managers of FOX affiliates objected to that due to their having numerous pre-emptions during the World Cup in November and December and the syndicators of shows that normally air on FOX stations in the daytime probably made clear they could not pre-empt for NFL games on 12/26 since the week of 12/26-30 likely is re-airs of shows that first aired during the World Cup pre-empted by FOX affiliates. Otherwise, it would have set up for ESPN/ABC to have a flex that Monday night. If the Christmas Eve slate had been played the day after Christmas instead, Chargers-Colts would likely still be the Monday night game though Falcons-Ravens would have been a candidate to move to MNF in that scenario.

    Week 17: Rams-Chargers likely stays there almost no matter what because logistics and it being New Year’s Day likely make it next-to-impossible to do a flex. If it did get moved, Jets-Seahawks right now looks like a prime candidate since that is unlikely to be protected (and it’s in 4:05 purgatory), especially if the Jets are still in contention for a wild card in the AFC when that decision has to be made.

    Week 18: If Giants-Eagles is for the NFC East, THAT is the Sunday Night finale (and if the Eagles are 16-0 going into Week 18, it could be put there anyway if for the Giants the game matters regardless of the outcome of earlier games for a Wild Card while otherwise it likely in that scenario becomes the 8:15 PM ET game on Saturday solely because of the Eagles looking for 17-0). If Jets-Dolphins matters for a wild card no matter what happens in the earlier games on Sunday (unless the Bills falter), THAT is the Sunday night game (though that is also a candidate for Saturday). If Rams-Seahawks is for the NFC West OR a Wild Card regardless of the outcome of earlier games, THAT is the SNF Finale and also is a candidate for Saturday otherwise. If Bucs-Falcons is for the NFC South and the Saints have faded by then, THAT can be the SNF Finale as well.

  2. Hi, Travis Kelce. This is Brian Inman sending you a message. You’re a good tight end to the chiefs. Due to the possibility of chiefs vs. chargers be flexed to SNF week 11, I predict you and your chiefs team beat the chargers on the road, 37 to 30. You know what I hope next season? That you and your chiefs team face Aaron Rodgers and his packers team at Lambeau next season.

  3. New development coming out Wednesday night:

    Apparently, CBS DID NOT PROTECT Vikings-Cowboys and it could be moved to SNF in Week 11, which is VERY surprising. That game looked like a shoo-in to be protected, ESPECIALLY SINCE CBS scheduled it for 4:25. I wonder if certain execs at CBS wanted Chiefs-Chargers protected because they wanted stars of their shows at the game.

    This also suggests there is a very good possibility Colts-Cowboys in Week 13 is flexed out for Titans-Eagles, ESPECIALLY since I can now see Falcons-Commanders replace Packers-Eagles in Week 12 due to in those cases the Pack and Colts in freefall.

  4. No way in hell Atlanta -Commies replaces Packers – undefeated Eagles.

    Washington Atlanta would be buried getting minimal time on Red zone on a Sunday morning. nobody wants to see that game.

    Aaron Rodgers is always a huge draw and a BIG story (drama) whether they are winning or losing. Eagles Packers is not going anywhere.

    It’s not just about records you have to understand about what draws eyeballs. The Packers are a huge name brand and the eagles are in a big market with an undefeated season going. Worst take you have ever had Walt, and you have had some doozies over the years

  5. Brian I think you will get your wish and that will be an early season Sunday night game when Kansas City comes to Green Bay next season. Mahomes and Rodgers have never actually played against each other in a game so they will want to make it early to make sure both are healthy and available

  6. Thanks, Kels. That Packers vs . Chiefs game could be SNF at Lambeau next season or this matchup could be on CBS with Jim Nantz and Tony Romo announcing because it seems that every season, Packers would get two games on tv channel CBS and it’s normally at Lambeau Field. I predict 3 SNF games for the Packers of next season.
    1. Packers vs Vikings at Lambeau Field late in the season next season.
    2. Vikings vs. Bears at Lambeau Field early next season.
    3. Packers vs. Raiders in Las Vegas, Nevada when the Packers face their former teammate Davante Adams.
    What makes you think the packers will face the chiefs on SNF next season at Lambeau field?

  7. Repost from the previous thread:

    Hello NFL SNF Flex Scheduling lovers,

    Here’s my take on things after Week 8.

    Week 10 – scheduled game is: L.A.C.(4-3) @ S.F.(4-4)

    #1 – Minn.(6-1) @ Buff.(6-1)
    #2 – L.A.C.(4-3) @ S.F.(4-4)

    The tentative is very likely to keep its place at this point with both being at .500 or better, but wow, what a fun matchup of Vikings/Bills that should at least move to the late slot of games and I’d really love to see it move to SNF. The Bills might be maxed though, as they were picked for a ton of National games before the season even started.

    Main Flex period:

    Week 11 – scheduled game is: Cin.(4-4) @ Pitt.(2-6) <—looks shaky, but lets check on the alternatives.

    #1 – Dal.(6-2) @ Minn.(6-1)
    #2 – K.C.(5-2) @ L.A.C.(4-3)
    #3 – N.Y.J.(5-3) @ N.E.(4-4)

    I think we'll probably end up stuck with the tentative at this point, but hopefully I am wrong. Cowboys/Vikings is likely protected, Chiefs/Chargers were in Primetime in Week 2 in TNF. Jets/Patriots doesn't quite have the pizazz yet.

    Week 12 – scheduled game is: G.B.(3-5) @ Phil.(7-0) <—this very likely stays, but starting to look pretty damned lopsided due to my Packers 🙁 🙁 and the 2 alternatives below have nowhere near the name value of this and you won't kick a potential undefeated team off of SNF.

    # 1 – Cin.(4-4) @ Tenn.(5-2)
    # 2 – Atl.(4-4) @ Wash.(4-4)

    Week 13 – scheduled game is: Ind.(3-4-1) @ Dal.(6-2) <—very likely to stay, unless the Colts die with their rookie QB taking over the reins

    Week 14 – scheduled game is: K.C.(5-2) @ Den.(3-5) <—this matchup was in Primetime both times last year and is looking very shaky now, which means I really hope that it loses its spot. With the Broncos winning in London against the Jags this past Sunday, the chances of this staying were greatly increased.

    Week 15 – scheduled game is: N.E.(4-4) @ L.V.(2-5) <—will the Raiders be so bad and ruin the Belichick/McDaniels matchup?

    Also, 3 of 5 games will move to Saturday and they are:

    Mia.(5-3) @ Buff.(6-1) <—looking near certain to move to Saturday
    Balt.(5-3) @ Clev.(3-5) <—not likely, for now
    Ind.(3-4-1) @ Minn.(6-1) <—looks good to move, but meh!
    Atl.(4-4) @ N.O.(3-5) <—not likely, in spite of how tight the NFC South is
    N.Y.G.(6-2) @ Wash.(4-4) <—because it's big market teams, it's looking okay at the moment, though it's a pretty lopsided matchup

    Week 16 – scheduled game is: T.B.(3-5) @ Ariz.(3-5) <— can't be flexed, as it's set in stone due to being on Christmas, but yuck!

    Week 17 – scheduled game is: L.A.R.(3-4) @ L.AC.(4-3) <— very likely to stay

    Week 18 – no scheduled SNF game and 2 games moving to Saturday

    N.E.(4-4) @ Buff.(6-1) <—can't move to Saturday
    N.Y.J.(5-3) @ Mia.(5-3) <—might be affected by Bills not being able to play on Saturday and could preclude them from doing so as well. If not precluded from moving to Saturday, it has a good chance or possibly SNF.
    Balt.(5-3) @ Cin.(4-4) <—can't move to Saturday
    Clev.(3-5) @ Pitt.(2-6) <—not looking like a move to Saturday would be in the cards anyway
    Hou.(1-5-1) @ Ind.(3-4-1) <—not a good Saturday game candidate
    Tenn.(5-2) @ Jack.(2-6) <—not a good Saturday game candidate
    L.A.C.(4-3) @ Den.(3-5) <—not a good Saturday game candidate, for now
    K.C.(5-2) @ L.V.(2-5) <—not a good Saturday game candidate
    N.Y.G.(6-2) @ Phil.(7-0) <—looking to be the frontrunner for Game 272 on SNF in Week 18
    Dal.(6-2) @ Wash.(4-4) <—starting to gain on potentially moving to Saturday
    Minn.(6-1) @ Chi.(3-5) <—not a good Saturday game candidate
    Det.(1-6) @ G.B.(3-5) <—not a good Saturday game candidate
    T.B.(3-5) @ Atl.(4-4) <—could be a dark horse for SNF, as it could become a win and in, lose and out game, but I doubt it or maybe I'm starting not to doubt it
    Car.(2-6) @ N.O.(3-5) <—not a good Saturday game candidate
    Ariz.(3-5) @ S.F.(4-4) <—could be a good candidate to move to Saturday, but so early still. Hell, this game is so weird.
    L.A.R.(3-4) @ Sea.(5-3) <—could be a good candidate to move to Saturday, but so early still. Hell, this game is also so weird.

    Remember, due to Buffalo and Cincinnati playing on MNF in Week 17, they will not be able to play on Saturday in Week 18 and that also leads to the potential of no matchup from the AFC East and AFC North moving to Saturday.

    Go Pack Go in Detroit this week to play the Lions. Better be careful with this team.

  8. Jeff:

    You are aware Vikings-Cowboys was left UNPROTECTED by CBS.


    IMO, the Pack have to win this week over the Lions or that SNF game in Philly against the Eagles is in serious jeopardy UNLESS they somehow beat the Cowboys next week. If they by some miracle win both, it obviously stays, but the reality is, the Pack could EASILY be 3-8 by the time they face the Eagles and that game could become a bloodbath. Falcons-Commanders becoming SNF in Week 12 would hinge on the Commanders keeping their streak going. Also, there would be a lot of people who would watch that to hate-watch the Commies because of the Dan Snyder controversy and the Falcons, even if they are 5-5 when the decision has to be made are going to be in the NFC South race to the end (with a very good chance Bucs-Falcons is the Sunday night finale in Week 18).

  9. I don’t think we know for sure the cowboys vikings game was unprotected . that was just one writer speculating. If you have information to the contrary please post it.

  10. The person who said it is a reporter who covers the Vikings. That is something he is likely to know about it.

  11. Chiefs Broncos is still not in the best shape but it might get flexed out after thanksgiving but i could be wrong

  12. They said Vikings-Cowboys was eligible to be moved to SNF. That USUALLY means it was left unprotected (which would be VERY STUPID unless again, CBS execs specifically wanted Chiefs-Chargers protected because they want to have stars to their daytime and prime time shows at the game).

  13. Dallas vs Minn WILL NOT be Flexed because dallas plays at 4:30pm on Thanksgiving. NFL will not give a team a SNF game if they play 4 days later on a Thursday

  14. Joe:

    The actually did that a couple of years ago with a Rams-Bears game. And the Bears were IN DETROIT for the 12:30 game on Thanksgiving.

    Cowboys have in fact been on SNF the week before Thanksgiving a couple of times and then played their traditional Thanksgiving slot.

    Anyway, after the Packers lost today to the Lions, I see the Cowboys licking their chops against them this week. If that happens, with the Pack at 3-7, they could actually be in jeopardy of having their SNF game with the Eagles in Week 12 flexed out with Bengals-Titans now possible on SNF (if not protected). Titans could actually wind up being flexed into SNF two straight weeks as with the Colts in freefall I suspect Colts-Cowboys is ALSO in danger of being flexed out with Titans-Eagles flexed in in week 13.

  15. I don’t think the Packers vs eagles game gonna be on SNF on week 12 this season because of the way packers have been playing lately. Due to the likelihood of Packers eliminated in the playoffs this season, I could see the Vikings vs. Packers game on week 17 New Year’s Day January 1st 2023 be flexed out of 3:25 pm CBS and have that matchup be shown on 12 pm on Fox tv channel.

  16. Brian:

    Agree. I suspect Bengals-Titans becomes a real candidate to replace Packers-Eagles with as noted the Titans possibly flexed in two straight weeks with Titans-Eagles ALSO flexed to SNF in Week 13 (basically, the Eagles stay on SNF but play that a week later).

  17. NFL Flexes I could see in the coming weeks:

    Week 11 Chiefs at Chargers replacing Bengals at Steelers on SNF, Jets at Patriots also in week 11 is a wildcard but probably Mahomes vs Herbert gets the nod.

    Week 12 Thanksgiving Weekend where I think Packers at Eagles is in dangers of being replaced possibly by Bengals at Titans even though I think the Eagles will likely enter this match-up undefeated and the Packers are a big draw despite there fading record especially losing 5 in a row now after there recent game at the Lions.

    Week 13 Titans at Eagles replacing Colts at Cowboys. Yes the Cowboys are the rating darlings of the NFL but the Colt look god awful especially now with there backup quarterback. Titans at Eagles would be awesome on SNF especially if the Eagles get to this game undefeated which is very possible even though back to back weeks for them on SNF.

    Week 14 maybe Chiefs at Broncos gets flexed out if the Broncos don’t get on a roll here. Chiefs are a huge rating draw thanks to Mahomes. I could see Jaguars at Titans if the Jaguars can get on a run here, Jets at Bills, Dolphins at Chargers, Eagles at Giants as possibilities where Eagles could be chasing history here and could be flexed to SNF.

    Week 15 I think Patriots at Raiders is in serious jeopardy here of remaining on SNF unless the Raiders can turn it around which I doubt. Titans at Chargers, maybe Cowboys at Jaguars if the Jaguars get on a run here, maybe Giants at Washington are the possibilities to keep an eye on.

    Week 17 I think Dolphins at Patriots is a strong possibility to replace Vikings at Packers as the CBS 325 Main DH game or Rams at Chargers on SNF. Or maybe Jets at Seahawks is a huge wildcard. Maybe Broncos at Chiefs is considered as well for SNF or 325 on CBS.

    Week 18 all TBD, I think Giants at the Eagles is favorite for the final game of the regular season on SNF as of right now especially with potential history on the line if the Eagles can do it but this is a possible game also where the Eagles could rest there starters and maybe the Giants have something to play for. But still to early to tell.

  18. Robert:

    Jets-Pats I looked at for Week 11, but the Pats are scheduled to have four straight prime time games (including Thanksgiving Night) after that, which makes it difficult. Whichever of Chiefs-Chargers or Cowboys-Vikings that is NOT protected by CBS goes to SNF,

    Weeks 12-13 could very well go as you say. Jets-Bills now is a possibility.

    Week 14: Dolphins-Chargers, currently in 4:05 purgatory could easily replace Chiefs-Broncos.

    Week 15: Titans-Chargers (a third flex-in of the Titans?) is possible.

    Week 17: Dolphins-Patriots now is quite possible.

    Week 18: Giants-Eagles right now looks more a candidate for Saturday night on ESPN/ABC. Bucs-Falcons right now looks to be the frontrunner for SNF.

  19. I didn’t read all the comments, but there is no way the Patriots or Vikings will be flexed into a Sunday night game when they face each other on Thursday night.

  20. The Colts just fired there HC Frank Reich and hopefully the NFL does the right thing and flexes out the Colts at Cowboys game in week 13, I don’t see them turning around there season with a inexperienced backup quarterback and putrid offensive line. Tennessee at Philly would be a great choice.

  21. Robert:

    Titans-Eagles (unless protected by CBS) is looking more like a lock for Week 13, however, even if protected I could see CBS allow it to be flexed into SNF since they could have Colts-Cowboys be their main 1:00 PM ET game.

    Titans could actually be flexed into SNF three times in four weeks (also week 12 at home vs. the Bengals and in Week 15 in LA against the Chargers).

  22. Have to take back on what I said with the Titans:

    I forgot the Titans have TWO Thursday night games (Week 11 at the Packers and Week 17 vs. the Cowboys), and have already played twice, so they can only be flexed in twice. If they are flexed in for Weeks 12 & 13, they could NOT be flexed in Week 15.

  23. I’m going the dark horse route here. Although most do not see this team making the playoffs this season considering their record. I think it is possible the 12pm CST/1pm EST Bears @ Falcons could become a later afternoon or maybe even the SNF game. When the Bears beat the Patriots in week 7 Justin Fields basically put himself on the map. Although the Bears lost to the Cowboys and Dolphins, they did not feel like losses. Fields seems like a far advanced player now vs in week 2 in Green Bay.

    Right now, Bears sit at 3-6 and Falcons sit at 4-5. Not exactly records that will get you into the playoffs but with the way the NFC is right now both those teams are actually on the cusp. And the whole country gets to see a really exciting player in prime time.

  24. Week 11: Bengals vs Steelers (current)

    Its tricky to pinpoint if Pats or Vikings can even be flexed to snf week 12 because of the thanksgiving games and i dont know if theyd give Minnesota two straight home NBC games. Jets Pats in essence probably is in the same boat. Also it seems as though Bengals Steelers will most likely be flexed and I honestly don’t think NFL will keep it there. Id say Chiefs Chargers is seemingly a lock and dare I say if they can’t pick that maybe Eagles Colts? Idk…. I think Chiefs Chargers is almost the no brainer here and thats if KC isn’t maxed out..

    Week 12: Packers vs Eagles (Current)
    If they flex out week 11, I just still don’t see NFL flexing this one out in all honesty, Eagles will likely be undefeated and who knows maybe the Packers are pesky in this one. However with the chance of the eagles being flexed into week 13, maybe it’s possible for this one to be flexed out. Only other option is Bengals Titans and to be honest that game might just have what it takes to dethrone this game, however it’s basically all depending on if the Packers are 3-7 after next week.

    Week 13: Colts vs Cowboys (current)
    Okay to be completely honest here I think this one stays, Colts will likely be 4-6-1 by the time this rolls around but I don’t think that will be enough to dethrone the Cowboys from a home snf game. Jets Vikings looks strong but again I don’t think nfl will give Minnesota 2 straight NBC home games, perhaps Titans Eagles but that’s probably if Packers Eagles is flexed out and again I don’t know if nfl wants to flex 3 straight snf games. I think Colts Cowboys stays

    Week 14: Chiefs vs Broncos (Current)
    These next games are so far away so I’ll keep it brief

    Eagles Giants likely protected as is with Bucs Niners, maybe Dolphins Chargers is in the runnings if Denver stays cold, and could maybe see Vikings Lions sneak up.

    Week 15: Patriots vs Raiders (current)
    Titans Chargers seems good enough , and Dolphins Bills will likely go Saturday, maybe Eagles Bears sneaks in.

    Week 17: Rams vs Chargers (current)
    Basically certain this stays, maybe Dolphins Patriots if the current game falls off the grid, Jets Seahawks doesnt seem bad, and if all fails maybe Browns Commanders

  25. Also for the Saturday December 17 Saturday games….

    The options are….
    Colts vs Vikings: Colts are a boring teams that will likely be out of contention and probably get blown out in this one, no chance.

    Falcons vs Saints: Technically close in the AFC South division chase, but realistically I dont see this moving the needle despite honesty probably being a fun game.

    Ravens vs Browns: Browns will likely be out of contention as well, Ravens will likely blow out, not likely

    Giants vs Commanders: Two big market teams in contention, almost a near lock if you ask me compared to the previous 3 games.

    Dolphins vs Bills: By far the best out of the 5 by a mile, almost no chance this isn’t flexed to Saturday. However the primetime game likely goes to Giants Commanders because its the NFC east.

    4:30pm: Dolphins vs Bills
    8:15pm: Giants vs Commanders

  26. Hello NFL SNF Flex Scheduling lovers,

    Here’s my take on things after Week 9.

    Main Flex period:

    Week 11 – scheduled game is: Cin.(6-4) @ Pitt.(2-6) <—looks shaky, but lets check on the alternatives.

    #1 – Dal.(6-2) @ Minn.(7-1)
    #2 – N.Y.J.(6-3) @ N.E.(5-4)
    #2 – K.C.(6-2) @ L.A.C.(5-3)

    If Walt's Minnesota guy is right, then bring on Cowboys/Vikings. I moved up Jets/Patriots due to both winning in Week 9 and would be cool to see that game on SNF if Cowboys/Vikings is indeed protected.

    Week 12 – scheduled game is: G.B.(3-6) @ Phil.(8-0)

    # 1 – Cin.(5-4) @ Tenn.(5-3)

    The only real alternative in my book is Bengals/Titans if they boot my Packers off, which they should. Likely this stays due to unbeaten Eagles.

    Week 13 – scheduled game is: Ind.(3-5-1) @ Dal.(6-2)

    #1 – N.Y.J.(6-3) @ Minn.(7-1)
    #2 – K.C.(6-2) @ Cin.(5-4)
    #3 – Mia.(6-3) @ S.F.(4-4)
    #4 – Tenn.(5-3) @ Phil.(8-0)

    I think Jets/Vikings could be a very nice flex option here and I highly doubt it's protected.

    Week 14 – scheduled game is: K.C.(6-2) @ Den.(3-5) <—this matchup was in Primetime both times last year and is looking very shaky now, which means I really hope that it loses its spot. With the Broncos winning 2 weeks ago in London against the Jags this past Sunday, the chances of this staying were greatly increased.

    Week 15 – scheduled game is: N.E.(5-4) @ L.V.(2-6) <—will the Raiders be so bad and ruin the Belichick/McDaniels matchup? The answer is starting to look like a big YES!

    Also, 3 of 5 games will move to Saturday and they are:

    Mia.(6-3) @ Buff.(6-2) <—certain to move to Saturday
    Balt.(6-3) @ Clev.(3-5) <—tossup with Colts/Vikings for 3rd Saturday game
    Ind.(3-5-1) @ Minn.(7-1) <—tossup with Ravens/Browns for 3rd Saturday game
    Atl.(4-5) @ N.O.(3-6) <—not likely, in spite of how tight the NFC South is
    N.Y.G.(6-2) @ Wash.(4-5) <—because it's big market teams, it's looking okay at the moment

    Week 16 – scheduled game is: T.B.(4-5) @ Ariz.(3-6) <— can't be flexed, as it's set in stone due to being on Christmas, but yuck!

    Week 17 – scheduled game is: L.A.R.(3-5) @ L.AC.(5-3) <— very likely to stay, unless the Rams really falter

    Week 18 – no scheduled SNF game and 2 games moving to Saturday

    N.E.(5-4) @ Buff.(6-2) <—can't move to Saturday
    N.Y.J.(6-3) @ Mia.(6-3) <—might be affected by Bills not being able to play on Saturday and could preclude them from doing so as well. If not precluded from moving to Saturday, it has a good chance or possibly SNF.
    Balt.(6-3) @ Cin.(5-4) <—can't move to Saturday, but SNF could be a possibility, though not likely
    Clev.(3-5) @ Pitt.(2-6) <—not looking like a move to Saturday would be in the cards anyway
    Hou.(1-6-1) @ Ind.(3-5-1) <—not a good Saturday game candidate
    Tenn.(5-3) @ Jack.(3-6) <—not a good Saturday game candidate
    L.A.C.(5-3) @ Den.(3-5) <—not a good Saturday game candidate
    K.C.(6-2) @ L.V.(2-6) <—not a good Saturday game candidate
    N.Y.G.(6-2) @ Phil.(8-0) <—looking to be the frontrunner for Game 272 on SNF in Week 18, but if Philly has nothing to play for, then it won't be SNF
    Dal.(6-2) @ Wash.(4-5) <—starting to gain on potentially moving to Saturday or not
    Minn.(7-1) @ Chi.(3-6) <—not a good Saturday game candidate
    Det.(2-6) @ G.B.(3-6) <—not a good Saturday game candidate
    T.B.(4-5) @ Atl.(4-5) <—could be a dark horse for SNF, as it could become a win and in, lose and out game, but I doubt it or maybe I'm starting not to doubt it……..reminds me of Rams/Seahawks on SNF years ago as a clown show win and in and lose and out game
    Car.(2-7) @ N.O.(3-6) <—not a good Saturday game candidate
    Ariz.(3-6) @ S.F.(4-4) <—could be a candidate to move to Saturday, but so early still. Hell, this game is so weird.
    L.A.R.(3-5) @ Sea.(6-3) <—not looking good to move to Saturday

    Remember, due to Buffalo and Cincinnati playing on MNF in Week 17, they will not be able to play on Saturday in Week 18 and that also leads to the potential of no matchup from the AFC East and AFC North moving to Saturday.

  27. wow those Saturday options are looking pretty putrid for Week 18 so far!
    Jeff: thanks for the most clear/insightful rankings out this page, Morgan included!
    looking fwd to getting some better SNF games as the season goes along…
    I’m scheduled to be LIVE in the FanDuel VIP suite for Chiefs @ Broncos Dec. 11 (was there for Niners-Broncos SNF snoozer in Sept). Looking more and more like that’ll get switched to 1:05 p.m. Pacific time if the Donkeys don’t win a few between now and then. Either way, GO CHIEFS! Flex us in at Chargers and at Bengals to make up for the likely Denver boot!

  28. Okay guys don’t quote me but I know a source close to NBC who says Packers Eagles is likely to be flexed out but for… Bears Jets, they said if green bay loses this week its almost guranteed Bears Jets will be the snf game. If you guys want I can show confirmation:)

  29. First:

    Chiefs-Chargers as originally expected is being flexed into Sunday Night Football in place of Bengals-Steelers. CBS in the end DID protect Cowboys-Vikings (makes sense since that game was at 4:25 to begin with AND cross-flexed to CBS) in spite of what the Vikings reporter noted (and the same reason likely Jets-Pats was not flexed to SNF anyway otherwise, the NFL not wanting to make a team play Sunday night and then on Thanksgiving plus in that case I think Robert Kraft would have vehemently objected to the Pats playing on SNF and then Thanksgiving night, plus the Pats potentially would be playing five consecutive prime time games as they are already scheduled for four straight primetime games from Weeks 12-15).


    That is interesting given the Bears, while a decent team are likely not in realistic playoff contention would be flexed in. I suspect that if that happens with Bears-Jets put in place in Week 12 would be because as noted the Titans can only be flexed into SNF twice the rest of the way due to their actually playing on Thursday night football twice in Weeks 11 & 17 and if they flexed the Titans in for both Week 12 (vs. the Bengals) AND Week 13 (at the Eagles), they could not flex the Titans in Week 15 (at the Chargers) due to the Titans in that scenario being maxed out.

  30. What a shocker… Walt was wrong again.
    Next Time learn the difference between a sportswriter’s speculation and Actual fact.

  31. Actually I said whichever of Chiefs-Chargers OR Cowboys-Vikings was NOT protected by CBS would be flexed.

  32. No you actually said the cowboys game was not protected and then you tried the back pedal and blame it on the article you read. And the article clearly never said that was the case. It’s OK to admit you’re wrong now and then Walt.

  33. Just face it Jeff , the Packers guy and these new guys are mopping up on the analysis. Your old school tales “the executives probably got together and talked about what we should put on Christmas morning to not upset the world cup of cricket” garbage doesn’t fly anymore when people have actual information like there will be 3 Saturday flex games late in this season. Just read from the others and learn.🎄👊🥂

  34. Go back to the first post. I actually did say Chiefs-Chargers. It was only after a Vikings reporter on Twitter said Vikings-Cowboys was eligible to be flexed (which usually means UNPROTECTED) that things went sideways. I had before that consistently said Chiefs-Chargers. Anything on Vikings-Cowboys was SPECIFICALLY because that was on the assumption CBS wanted Chiefs-Chargers NOT flexed and no other reason, which I also said made NO SENSE unless CBS wanted it at 4:25 because CBS wanted stars of their shows to be at that game specifically. In the end, things worked out as I originally said.

  35. Stars of shows “being seen at the game” was a big reason the networks wanted teams in LA. There have for years been a lot of women who watch Laker games (and now to a lesser extent, Clipper games) on TNT, ABC and ESPN SOLELY to see who is at the game.

    If CBS had protected Chiefs-Chargers, that likely WOULD have been the reason as it would have been the only logical one. Cowboys-Vikings was always the likely game going to be protected.

  36. Who Cares About The Game Between The Chiefs and Chargers being Flexed who cares about it. 7 years ago the chiefs chargers game was flexed out for the Bengals Cards game. 6 years ago steelers bengals got flexed out in favor of Bucs Cowboys i didn’t Watch that game and now 6 Years later bengals steelers game in pittsburgh gets flexed out as well. The Next Games that are going to be flexed out are Packers Eagles Cowboys Colts Chiefs Broncos and Pats Raiders because those games are not in the best shape. I Am Sick of the chiefs and i will not watch this game.

  37. Before this week I’m gonna give my thoughts on the upcoming flex scenario for week 12’s Packers vs Eagles game…….
    Currently stands at 8-0 vs 3-6 and Green Bay is falling more and more off the radar. I personally think the flex decision is as simple as if Green Bay loses to Dallas or not. If the Packers are 3-7, I think the NFL will look at their other options here. I actually think the most likely scenario here is (especially if the Bears win) Bears vs Jets. The Jets are the talk of the town, and while there is Bengals vs Titans… I think it would be very hard for the NFL to not look at a Chicago vs New York game, two of the biggest markets in the league. Fields is fun to watch and Bears could be 5-6 by the time of this game or even 4-7 which still could draw some fans interest to the game. But I think in all reality NFL does what it can to make sure they have a big market game in this slot whether its Packers vs Eagles or Bears vs Jets!

  38. Libby:

    This has been no secret for years. It’s something that is antiquated but seems to still be the case but was the driving force for the NFL putting teams in LA at the behest of the networks. Even in their dysfunctional state right now, the Lakers are still a big TV draw.

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