Sunday Night Football Flex Scheduling Watch: Week 15

NBC’s Sunday Night Football package gives it flexible scheduling. For the last seven weeks of the season, the games are determined on 12-day notice, 6-day notice for Week 17.

The first year, no game was listed in the Sunday Night slot, only a notation that one game could move there. Now, NBC lists the game it “tentatively” schedules for each night. However, the NFL is in charge of moving games to prime time.

Here are the rules from the NFL web site (note that this was written with the 2007 season in mind, hence why it still says late games start at 4:15 ET instead of 4:25):

  • Begins Sunday of Week 11
  • In effect during Weeks 11-17
  • Only Sunday afternoon games are subject to being moved into the Sunday night window.
  • The game that has been tentatively scheduled for Sunday night during flex weeks will be listed at 8:15 p.m. ET.
  • The majority of games on Sundays will be listed at 1:00 p.m. ET during flex weeks except for games played in Pacific or Mountain Time zones which will be listed at 4:05 or 4:15 p.m. ET.
  • No impact on Thursday, Saturday or Monday night games.
  • The NFL will decide (after consultation with CBS, FOX, NBC) and announce as early as possible the game being played at 8:15 p.m. ET. The announcement will come no later than 12 days prior to the game. The NFL may also announce games moving to 4:05 p.m. ET and 4:15 p.m. ET.
  • Week 17 start time changes could be decided on 6 days notice to ensure a game with playoff implications.
  • The NBC Sunday night time slot in “flex” weeks will list the game that has been tentatively scheduled for Sunday night.
  • Fans and ticket holders must be aware that NFL games in flex weeks are subject to change 12 days in advance (6 days in Week 17) and should plan accordingly.
  • NFL schedules all games.
  • Teams will be informed as soon as they are no longer under consideration or eligible for a move to Sunday night.
  • Rules NOT listed on NFL web site but pertinent to flex schedule selection: CBS and Fox each protect games in five out of six weeks, and cannot protect any games Week 17. Games were protected after Week 4 last year as well as the first year of flexible scheduling, because NBC hosted Christmas night games those years and all the other games were moved to Saturday (and so couldn’t be flexed), but are otherwise protected after Week 5.
  • In the past, three teams could appear a maximum of six games in primetime on NBC, ESPN or NFL Network (everyone else gets five) and no team may appear more than four times on NBC. I don’t know how the expansion of the Thursday Night schedule affects this, if it does. No team starts the season completely tapped out at any measure; eight teams have five primetime appearances each, but only the Broncos and Bears don’t have at least one game that can be flexed out. A list of all teams’ number of appearances is in my Week 5 post.

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

Week 17 (December 30):

AFC Playoff Picture
DIVISION
LEADERS
WILD CARD WAITING IN
THE WINGS (6-8)
EAST
49-5
59-5
8-6
EAST
310-4
68-6
CLINCHED
WEST
211-3
7-7
CLINCHED
SOUTH
112-2
CLINCHED
NFC Playoff Picture
DIVISION
LEADERS
WILD CARD WAITING IN
THE WINGS (6-7)
EAST
48-6
59-5
2 teams at 8-6
NORTH
310-4
68-6
2 teams at 8-6
WEST
210-3-1
8-6
9-5 8-6
SOUTH
112-2
8-6
CLINCHED 6-7-1
  • Tentative game: None (NBC will show game with guaranteed playoff implications).
  • Possible games: Ravens-Bengals, Packers-Vikings, Cowboys-Redskins, Eagles-Giants.
  • Cowboys-Redskins will be picked if: The Giants lose OR the Cowboys win. Both teams split the season series with the Giants, but the Giants can’t finish with a division record better than 3-3, while the Cowboys-Redskins winner will pick up at least their fourth division win. The Redskins won the first game against the Cowboys and so would sweep them with a win, so even with a Cowboys win this week a loss to the Redskins would eliminate them from the division. As this is the most TV-friendly option, it seems very likely, with the caveat that the loser could still get a wild card spot, and even if this scenario doesn’t play out…
  • Eagles-Giants will be picked if: The Giants win AND the Cowboys and Redskins lose, which would put this scenario (scroll to the bottom) into play. As would…
  • Packers-Vikings could theoretically be picked if: The Vikings win AND the NFC East teams all lose, as the Vikings would lose a tiebreaker to any of them but swept the Bears. But if that were to happen, the Vikings win by itself means I can’t see a scenario where the Cowboys-Redskins loser gets a playoff spot, wiping out Packers-Vikings’ one potential saving grace.
  • Ravens-Bengals will be picked if: The Ravens lose AND the Bengals beat the Steelers AND the Giants and Redskins win AND the Cowboys lose. Even then, the Ravens already have a playoff spot and the Bengals-Steelers result would assure the Bengals of one too; I haven’t researched that infernal common-games tiebreaker between the Colts and Bengals, but it’s very possible this game would merely determine home-field advantage for a rematch the following week, whether as the 3-6 or 4-5 game (if New England loses out, a Ravens win in this game gives them the 3 since they beat the Pats).

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