Week 14 (December 11):
- Tentative game: NY Giants @ Dallas
- Prospects: NFC East clash, with both teams moderately good and tied for the division lead entering Week 12. For a flex to have ever been in the realm of possibility, one or both teams would have had to completely collapse and the other game would have to sweep the NFL off its feet. Combine that with a paucity of NFC road games, and no wonder Fox left this week unprotected.
- Protected games: Patriots-Redskins (CBS).
- Other possible games mentioned on last week’s Watch and their records: Texans (8-3)-Bengals (7-4), Raiders (7-4)-Packers (11-0), Saints (7-3)-Titans (6-5), Broncos (6-5)-Bears (7-4).
- Impact of Monday Night Football: The Saints can improve their chances at the expense of one of the tentative teams.
- Analysis: I said last week that both teams would have to lose for this game to be flexed out, and even then the chances would be extremely slim, and the Cowboys won. Texans-Bengals and Raiders-Packers would be better games even if the Giants won in terms of average record, though Saints-Titans and Broncos-Bears are only equivalent games at best, so they’re out. But Raiders-Packers is lopsided (and the undefeated factor is only likely to come into play Week 17), and even if Texans-Bengals finishes a full game ahead of Cowboys-Giants, they’re not nearly as TV-attractive. Regardless of whether the division lead actually ends up on the line, the tentative game bias wins again. (And keep an eye out there, because there’s a chance the division won’t be settled Week 17 and the return match at the Met winds up on NBC as well!)
- Final prediction: New York Giants @ Dallas Cowboys (no change).