Week 12 (November 28):
- Tentative game: San Diego @ Indianapolis
- Prospects: 6-3 v. 4-5; the Chargers’ win over the Texans potentially put the NFL in a difficult situation. They had a bye this week, so they couldn’t make it back to .500, but they’re close enough, and have enough upward momentum that history suggests will continue, that the NFL will have to weigh its tentative game bias against the present iffy state of the game and the strength of the alternatives. 6-3 v. 4-5 still isn’t so lopsided to rule the game out.
- Protected games: Eagles-Bears (FOX) and Jags-Giants (CBS).
- Other possible games mentioned on last week’s Watch and their records: Titans (5-4)-Texans (4-5), Chiefs (5-4)-Seahawks (5-4), Packers (6-3)-Falcons (7-2), and Bucs (6-3)-Ravens (6-3).
- Impact of Monday Night Football: None.
- Analysis: I said last week that the best situation for Colts-Chargers left Packers-Falcons at 6-3 v. 6-3 and Colts-Chargers at 6-3 v. 4-5, but that the same situation could very easily coincide with Bucs-Ravens being 6-3 v. 7-2, but even then Packers-Falcons could get the nod based on name teams and people’s general feeling that the Bucs are beneficiaries of a weak schedule. I felt the Ravens needed to win on Thursday night to have any shot at the flex at all. Not only did that not happen, it’s now very difficult for the NFL to pass up a battle between two teams that might be the best two in the NFC. Worth noting that both of these would be moves from a CBS game to a Fox game, with a Fox-to-CBS move unlikely in the remaining weeks to force Week 17 to go to a CBS game, and Green Bay would be maxed out on NBC appearances with Packers-Patriots unlikely to be flexed out, and a potential huge Week 17 game with the Bears. Would the NFL keep a 6-3 v. 4-5 game with a 6-3 v. 7-2 game available of this caliber? One need only look to this same week, and this same Colts-Chargers game, two years ago. But 7-2 wasn’t the best record in the league then…
- Final prediction: Indianapolis Colts @ San Diego Chargers (no change), but a flex would not surprise me one iota. (Lack of announcement is probably to see if Eagles-Bears at 5-3 v. 6-3 is worthy of Fox late game vis-a-vis Bucs-Ravens, which may be a good sign for flexing in Packers-Falcons.)