Week 13 (December 2):
- Tentative game: Philadelphia @ Dallas
- Prospects: Very iffy at 5-5 v. 3-7 (and the Giants starting to pull away with the division); would even the NFC East factor overcome such mediocre teams?
- Likely protections: 49ers-Rams or Vikings-Packers (FOX) and Steelers-Ravens (CBS).
- Other possible games mentioned on last week’s Watch and their records: Vikings (6-4)-Packers (7-3), Seahawks (6-4)-Bears (7-2), Bucs (6-4)-Broncos (7-3), Pats (7-3)-Dolphins (4-6), Colts (6-4)-Lions (4-6).
- Impact of Monday Night Football: Under normal circumstances, the Bears would be playing to give Seahawks-Bears a leg up over Vikings-Packers and Bucs-Broncos, giving it a better pair of records at the expense of being a little lopsided, something it needs given it’s the least TV-friendly of the three. These aren’t normal circumstances.
- Analysis: Two years ago, against all logic, the NFL kept a tentative with a 3-8 Cowboys team, prompting this rant about how the tentative game bias can be so extreme as to render flex scheduling nearly worthless. With a better Dallas team this year that’s only a game out of the wild card, I suggested that, even with an Eagle loss to make it semi-lopsided and mediocre at best at 5-5 v. 3-7, a Dallas win would pretty much guarantee this game keeps its spot; it would hardly be the worst tentative the NFL has kept. Dallas then had one more loss than Philly has now and the game is less lopsided, while the Cowboys are still in the thick of the playoff race. But the best alternative available then was Chiefs-Chargers at 7-4 v. 6-5, and the collection of 7-3 v. 6-4 games are mighty tempting. If this tentative were anything else, I would bet on Vikings-Packers or Bucs-Broncos. As it stands?
- Final prediction: Philadelphia Eagles @ Dallas Cowboys (no change). (Does the lack of an announcement suggest that Seahawks-Bears has a shot with a Bears win?)