Last-Minute Remarks on SNF Week 16 Picks

Week 16 (December 27):

  • Tentative game: Pittsburgh @ Baltimore
  • Prospects: 8-5 v. 4-9. One of the NFL’s better rivalries, but not in the best shape right now with the Ravens eliminated from the playoffs.
  • Likely protections: Patriots-Jets (CBS) and Packers-Cardinals or Panthers-Falcons (FOX).
  • Other possible games mentioned on last week’s Watch and their records: Packers (9-4)-Cardinals (11-2), Panthers (13-0)-Falcons (6-7), Giants (5-7)-Vikings (8-5), Bears (5-8)-Bucs (6-7), Colts (6-7)-Dolphins (5-7), Cowboys (4-9)-Bills (6-7).
  • Impact of Monday Night Football: The winner goes to 6-7 and makes their respective game at least a little more palatable, but I’m not sure it matters.
  • Analysis: Well, I still don’t quite know what happened to put Cardinals-Eagles on SNF Week 15, but I’ve gotten enough of an idea, and thought through the implications of this week more, that I can actually make a semi-informed prediction about this week. The key is that the NFL probably wants to avoid a repeat of the Bears-Eagles fiasco from two years ago, when the loser of the SNF game was guaranteed to be in a division title game but the NFL wanted to announce the Week 17 game by halftime.They’d prefer a game with no impact on the Week 17 prospects of any game, and the only games that fit the bill are Bears-Bucs, Colts-Dolphins, and the tentative. (The NFL may want to hold Bucs-Panthers in reserve for the undefeated factor.) This is where the Cardinals-Eagles flex comes in, because the only way I can even begin to make sense of why it would be picked over Texans-Colts is if the NFL is hard up against the balance of primetime games taken from Fox and CBS and absolutely had to take a Fox game, and even then I’m not sure you’d take Cardinals-Eagles unless you had the same constraint this week as well (especially given the weakness of the Week 17 AFC options). Given the Bears’ weakness and the Panthers’ close calls and likelihood not to be playing for anything but an unbeaten season by Week 17 I wouldn’t be totally surprised by Panthers-Falcons, but…
  • Final prediction: Chicago Bears @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
  • Actual selection: New York Giants @ Minnesota Vikings (if the Giants win tonight), Pittsburgh Steelers @ Baltimore Ravens (no change) (if the Dolphins win tonight). I guess the NFL is comfortable with the possibility Vikings-Packers’ prospects will depend on what the Vikings do, and it probably is the best option if you ignore Week 17 implications, but looking at that other option, so much for my Fox-CBS balance theory.

7 thoughts on “Last-Minute Remarks on SNF Week 16 Picks

  1. So Giants-Vikings is officially the Sunday night game.

    You may be right they had to even out the flexes between FOX and CBS.

    This also says Pats-Jets was protected by CBS, which made sense given the Jets were 4-1 at the time that decision had to be made. Also says EITHER Packers-Cardinals was protected by FOX OR Fiesta Bowl officials made it clear the game could not be flexed to SNF because they needed to get everything ready for their game that has an 11:00 AM local time kickoff on New Year’s Day with fans of Ohio State and Notre Dame likely arriving as early as Sunday night for that game, some in RVs that likely will be there much of that week (again, something unique to college football you don’t see in the NFL).

    As for Week 17 it looks like if the Cardinals have wrapped up the #2 seed by the time they play the Packers AND unless the Packers have already wrapped up the NFC North, then Vikings-Packers is your finale.

    As for the Eagles and Giants being flexed in this and next week and not in Week 17, besides what I wrote earlier about the possibility Meadowlands and/or New Jersey officials made it clear an 8:30 PM game on a Sunday many are returning from Christmas vacation would have made traffic very rough that night in North Jersey (making Eagles-Giants in Week 17 impossible), there now are scenarios where if the Eagles and Giants win out going into Week 17 where aside from a five-quarter tie in the finale BOTH make the playoffs if the Vikings lose out AND the Saints DO NOT finish second in the NFC South OR the Bucs win out and finish 9-7, BOTH the Eagles and Giants make it out of the NFC East.

  2. Early thought on Week 17:

    If the Texans beat the Colts next Sunday AND the Jaguars win their next two, then Jaguars-Texans is the likely SNF Finale because that would be for the AFC South no matter what the Colts do in their final two games (Jags would win a tiebreaker with the Texans OR a three-way tiebreaker with the Colts and Texans).

  3. Correction:

    If the Colts lose this week to the Texans and next week to the Dolphins, AND the other stuff happens, then Jags-Texans is for the AFC South (but the Jags do with a tiebreaker with the Texans if they by themselves OR with the Colts all wind up 8-8, Texans lose a tiebreaker with them and the Colts at 8-8 even if the Texans beat the Colts this weekend).

  4. The AFC South is weird right now. If the Texans beat the Colts this week, they could virtually win the division by just beating the Titans in Week 16–the Week 17 matchup with the Jags likely wouldn’t matter. In this scenario, the Texans win a 3-way tie at 8-8 because of a better division record than Jax and because of a better strength of victory than Indy.

    Houston wins a 2-way tie at 8-8 with Jacksonville because of a better division record, so the Week 17 matchup in this scenario (HOU coming in 8-7 and JAX coming in at 7-8) would be irrelevant, since JAX would be eliminated by then.

    Houston wins a 2-way tie at 8-8 with Indy due to strength of victory…for now. If it comes to this, Indy needs LOTS of help from Atlanta and Denver (like those two to go 6-0 between them in the final three weeks), or at least have ATL & DEN go 5-1 and get help from Miami, Tampa, and Baltimore to help with the strength of victory or strength of schedule tiebreakers.

    It seems extremely unlikely the HOU-JAX game will be meaningful for both teams in Week 17. My bet is one of the NFC East trainwrecks, assuming they’re not maxed out yet. PHI-NY is most likely, but WAS-DAL is a possibility if Dallas is still alive (Dallas does really well with tiebreakers if 7-9 is the best record in the division).

  5. Quick add-on/corection: if JAX wins the next two weeks, IND loses to HOU and MIA in week 16, AND the Texans lose to TEN in week 16, then the Week 17 matchup between HOU and JAX would indeed be for the division. That’s the only scenario in which that could happen.

  6. If Washington is a game ahead of both the Giants and Eagles, but would lose a tiebreaker to either one, Indians-Cowboys becomes a possibility even if the Cowboys are nowhere near the hunt. Conversely, in the event of a three-way tie with Washington winning any head-to-head tiebreakers, Indians-Cowboys would actually be a better option than Eagles-Giants. See here. As you might have guessed I haven’t actually looked at the tiebreakers yet.

    The thing that gives me pause about the “balance of flexes” is that it’s really about the balance of games taken from each network for any primetime slot, flex or not, SNF or not. So if it were really about that the NFL wouldn’t have had Steelers-Ravens set to keep its spot if the Dolphins had won last night. But maybe the NFL headed into last week looking at at most one AFC game over the last three weeks, and figured it was better used Week 16 (with two AFC games with no Week 17 impact to the NFC’s one) or 17 than Week 15.

  7. Morgan:

    If the Giants lose to the Panthers this week AND the Eagles beat the Cardinals, the Saturday 12/26 Redskins-Eagles game IS for the NFC EAST Title as the winner of that game would then WIN the NFC East regardless of what happens in Week 17.

    The Redskins would win on divisional tiebreaker with Giants and Head-to-Head with Eagles if the Redskins tied either or head-to-head in a three-way tie at 8-8, Eagles win NFC East no matter what if the Giants lose this week AND the Eagles then beat the Cardinals and Redskins because the Eagles would then win any tie breakers with Redskins or Giants on record vs. common opponents where the Eagles would be 7-7 and the others could be no better than 6-8.

    Should also be noted if the Vikings lose to either the Packers or Bears, if the Giants and Redskins BOTH win out, they would BOTH make the playoffs (Giants as a Wild Card, Redskins as NFC East Champs).

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