Week 16 (December 22):
- Tentative game: New England @ Baltimore
- Prospects: 10-3 v. 7-6; pretty lopsided, but the name value could still save it and the Ravens are very much alive in the playoff hunt (then again, every AFC team that’s not the Texans – more on them in a bit – and Jags are).
- Protected games: Broncos-Texans (CBS) and Cowboys-Indians (FOX).
- Other possible games mentioned on Tuesday’s Watch and their records: Saints-Panthers (10-3 v. 9-4 in some order), Colts (8-5)-Chiefs (10-3), Cardinals (7-5)-Seahawks (11-1, both teams currently playing), Bears (6-6)-Eagles (8-5).
- Impact of Monday Night Football: The Bears are playing, but Bears-Eagles doesn’t really have a shot to be flexed in.
- Analysis: CBS’ decision to protect Broncos-Texans over Colts-Chiefs was questionable at the time since the Texans definitely had the worst record of the four at 2-3 and seemed to be in a tailspin; now it seems to have given the Texans the kiss of death, as they haven’t won since (even losing to the freaking Jaguars twice!) and the Colts and Chiefs have only two-thirds as many losses between them as the Texans have themselves. But CBS looks to be off the hook for that with the Colts losing, making Colts-Chiefs not only definitely worse than Saints-Panthers but slightly lopsided as well. This selection will say a lot about the NFL’s priorities, because the Ravens have recovered enough to get above .500 (if it weren’t for a questionable pass interference call Patriots-Ravens would be equally as lopsided as Colts-Chiefs and only a game worse) and I might ordinarily side with the tentative game bias here even with Saints-Panthers’ awesome pair of records… on the other hand, the NFL showed with the Chiefs-Broncos protection overrule – oh sorry, “voluntary protection dropping” – a desire to flex in games on the singleheader network to deliver them to a national audience, and Fox has the singleheader this week… on the other other hand, if that were a factor here the NFL wouldn’t have flexed in Panthers-Saints this week, because now flexing in Saints-Panthers means taking away both halves of a divisional matchup from Fox (both of them being flexed in without Week 17’s weird circumstances being a factor) and putting the same matchup on NBC twice in three weeks (without the playoffs being a factor). I’m not saying I would be surprised if Saints-Panthers was flexed in, but considering the records aren’t quite as attractive as Chiefs-Broncos was…
- Final prediction: New England Patriots @ Baltimore Ravens (no change).