Sunday Night Football Flex Scheduling Watch: Week 10

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 even with the bit about the early flexes, 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 5
  • In effect during Weeks 5-17
  • Up to 2 games may be flexed into Sunday Night between Weeks 5-10
  • 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 starting Week 11, and cannot protect any games Week 17. Games were protected after Week 4 in 2006 and 2011, 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. As I understand it, during the Week 5-10 period the NFL and NBC declare their intention to flex out a game two weeks in advance, at which point CBS and Fox pick one game each to protect.
  • 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; ten teams have five primetime appearances each, but only the Packers, Bears, 49ers, Steelers, and Saints don’t have games in the main flex period, and all have games in the early flex period. I don’t know if both of the games scheduled for 12/20 count towards the total, or only the one in primetime. 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 11 (November 16):

  • Selected game: New England @ Indianapolis.

Week 12 (November 23):

  • Selected game: Dallas @ NY Giants.

Week 13 (November 30):

  • Tentative game: Denver @ Kansas City
  • Prospects: 7-2 v. 6-3. Suddenly looking like a much more interesting game than it was looking like for much of the season, now pitting the top two teams in the division a game apart.
  • Protected games: Patriots-Packers (CBS) and Saints-Steelers (FOX).
  • Other possible games: Thanksgiving weekend, paucity of good games, especially with Eagles-Cowboys on Thanksgiving. Chargers-Ravens and Browns-Bills are the only options, and neither one is all that impressive.
  • Analysis: The best either of these games could do is even with the tentative. Combine the tentative game bias with the playoff implications and name teams of the tentative compared to the uninspiring alternatives, and…
  • Final prediction: Denver Broncos @ Kansas City Chiefs (no change).

Week 14 (December 7):

  • Tentative game: New England @ San Diego
  • Prospects: 7-2 v. 5-4. Starting to look a mite lopsided, but should still be reasonably safe for now.
  • Protected games: Steelers-Bengals (CBS) and Seahawks-Eagles (FOX).
  • Other possible games: Colts-Browns, Ravens-Dolphins, Chiefs-Cardinals, and Bills-Broncos are all options, but none of those are particularly appealing. Chiefs-Cardinals might be the most interesting, if not necessarily best, game.

Week 15 (December 14):

  • Tentative game: Dallas @ Philadelphia
  • Prospects: 7-3 v. 7-2 and an NFC East showdown. If form holds, this game has a mortal lock on this spot.
  • Protected games: Broncos-Chargers (CBS) and 49ers-Seahawks (FOX).
  • Other possible games: Packers-Bills, Bengals-Browns, and Dolphins-Patriots are all options, but they would require an absolute collapse by one or both tentative teams and that still might not be enough (as many Cowboys games past have shown).

Week 16 (December 21):

  • Tentative game: Seattle @ Arizona
  • Prospects: 6-3 v. 8-1 is a bit lopsided, but it’s still the top two teams in the division, and what do you flex it out for?
  • Protected games: Colts-Cowboys (CBS) and Lions-Bears (FOX).
  • Other possible games: Chiefs-Steelers is the only game involving two teams over .500. That’s not overcoming the tentative game bias.

Week 17 (December 28):

AFC Playoff Picture
DIVISION
LEADERS
WILD CARD WAITING IN
THE WINGS (4-5)
NORTH
46-3
56-3
5-3-1
SOUTH
36-3
65-3-1
4-5
WEST
27-2
5-4
6-3 5-4
EAST
17-2
5-4
2 tied at 5-4
NFC Playoff Picture
DIVISION
LEADERS
WILD CARD WAITING IN
THE WINGS (4-5)
SOUTH
44-5
57-3
3-6-1
EAST
37-2
66-3
7-3
NORTH
27-2
6-3
6-3 5-4
WEST
18-1
6-6
6-3
  • Tentative game: None (NBC will show game with guaranteed playoff implications).
  • Possible games: Panthers-Falcons, Browns-Ravens, Lions-Packers, Chargers-Chiefs, Bills-Patriots, Bengals-Steelers, Cardinals-49ers.

8 Comments

  1. David
    Posted November 11, 2014 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

    Predictions for Week 13. As of now CBS has five games in the early window and FOX has four. I am speculating that either Chargers-Ravens or Browns-Bills will move to the late window for CBS.

    PS I am sure all of us agree that Denver @ Kansas City is not going anywhere other than SNF on NBC.

  2. Walt Gekko
    Posted November 11, 2014 at 11:03 pm | Permalink

    Not really surprised they did not flex out Cowboys-Giants, though doing so would have lessened a lot of headaches for the NFL and FOX because of the situation with the 4:05 PM Sunday spot.

    Those headaches (plus the considerable gap in prep time between the Eagles and Cowboys for their Thanksgiving game due to the Eagles playing at 1:00 and Cowboys on SNF) are why I would have moved Cowboys-Giants to the late DH spot on CBS and flexed in Cardinals-Seahawks even though NBC also has the Week 16 meeting. When they drew up the original schedule, I don’t think they considered the gap in prep time (even if its “only” seven hours or so) between the Eagles and Cowboys for a game they will be playing on three days rest (why I think before this year they had not had a team play a Thursday game following a Sunday nighter since I believe the first year of SNF (on ESPN) in 1987).

    As for the rest of these, if the Browns continue to win and their game with the Colts has division and wild card implications, then the week 14 Patriots-Chargers game could be moved, especially if the Chargers continue to lose. The Browns are going to have the curiosity factor because aside from their thrashing of the Bengals this past week on Thursday Night Football, much of the country has not seen them (plus there is always the chance if there’s an injury we see “Johnny Football”).

  3. jeff5768
    Posted November 12, 2014 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

    Well, no changes to Week 12 at all was a bit of a surprise, but the 4 late games all look pretty solid and it’s 2 each for CBS & FOX. Plus, the New York market doesn’t like to lose a big Sunday Night Football game. I do believe that if the Giants were any worse than their current 3-6, that game woulda been flexed out. Perhaps. Ha. 😉

    I see Week 13 staying Denver at Kansas City. Nothing next week will change that for me.

    For Week 14, I have 5 games that could make it and I like them in this order:

    1—Ind. @ Clev.
    2—K.C. @ Ariz.
    3—N.E. @ S.D.
    4—Buff. @ Den.
    5—Balt. @ Mia.

    These rankings could change following Week 11. 😉

  4. Schmolik
    Posted November 13, 2014 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

    If Cleveland wins their next two games (home vs. Houston, at Atlanta), Ind/Clev on Dec. 7 would be a great matchup for the Sunday Night (and when was the last time SNF has been in Cleveland?)

  5. David
    Posted November 14, 2014 at 11:16 pm | Permalink

    I won’t be shocked if one of these games Colts vs Browns, Ravens vs Dolphins, Chiefs vs Cardinals and Bills vs Broncos get’s crossflex from CBS to FOX or replaces NE @ my SD.

  6. Rob
    Posted November 15, 2014 at 4:01 am | Permalink

    Typo – You have the Buccaneers in the NFC wild card chase in Week 17. Only in Lovie’s dreams. :-)

  7. David
    Posted November 18, 2014 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

    Since there are no changes in the Week 13 Schedule. Let’s start speculating what is going to happen in Week 14. As it stands right now CBS has five games in the early window and FOX has four games in the early window. I think that New England @ my San Diego will stay as the SNF game.

  8. David
    Posted November 18, 2014 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

    For Week 14, I have 4 games that could make it and I like them in this order.

    1. Chiefs vs Cardinals (most likely will get cross-flexed from CBS to FOX)

    2. Colts vs Browns(most likely will get cross-flexed from CBS to FOX)

    3. Ravens vs Dolphins (probably will get moved from CBS to FOX to balance the schedule)

    4. Bills vs Broncos (I am pretty sure this game will stay on CBS)

    Most likely we will find-out by this Sunday (at the earliest) or Tuesday of next week (at the latest)

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