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 originally written with the 2007 season in mind and has been only iteratively and incompletely edited since then, hence why at one point 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 4:25 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; with NBC hosting a game the Saturday before Christmas Eve, I’m assuming protections were due in Week 4 again this year, and the above notwithstanding, Week 10 is part of the main flex period this year, as it was in 2006, 2011, and last year. 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.
  • New this year, the flexed-out game always moves to the network from which the flexed-in game comes, regardless of which network it would air on normally. This should give the NFL some incentive to flex in games from the same network as the tentative, especially late in the year, to avoid having to deal with the rather restrictive crossflex rules more than necessary. It also affects CBS and Fox’s protection incentives; if the tentative is a game that would be valuable even if it needs to be flexed out (such as a Cowboys game), that affects both networks’ willingness to leave a week unprotected equally.
  • Three teams can 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, although Week 17 is exempt from team appearance limits. For the entire first decade of SNF, no team started the season completely tapped out at any measure, with every team having no more than three NBC appearances or five overall appearances; however, this year the Chiefs and Steelers have been given six appearances across all primetime packages, and in the Chiefs’ case, only Week 5’s Texans game even fell within the early flex period (and both NFL Network appearances are genuinely in primetime) – especially headscratching since the Jaguars and Browns have been saved from having to play Thursday night at all (the new Week 17 rules may have something to do with this, with the Jags and Browns being saved by a quirk of the calendar). A list of all teams’ number of appearances is in my Week 4 post.

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

Week 17 (December 31):

AFC Playoff Picture
NFC Playoff Picture
  • Tentative game: None (NBC will show game with guaranteed playoff implications).
  • Possible games: Panthers-Falcons, Bills-Dolphins, Jaguars-Titans, and near as I can tell, that’s it.
  • Jaguars-Titans will be picked if: The Jaguars lose AND the Titans win. The good news is that the Titans might have to win just to make the playoffs; the bad news is that the Jags have already clinched a playoff spot and this game needs another Niners upset and the Titans to upset the Rams to happen at all. For NBC, the good news is they might not be stuck with this game; the bad news is that they lose this game as a potential fallback option. The Jags could have a shot at a first-round bye with a win, and the Titans could be fighting for their playoff lives with a loss, but there’s no way to guarantee either team would have something to play for by the time Sunday night comes around.
  • Bills-Dolphins will be picked if: The Bills lose AND the Ravens lose AND the Chargers lose AND the Dolphins win AND the Bills have clinched the strength of victory tiebreaker over the Ravens AND the Jags-Titans scenario doesn’t happen. This would create a situation where the Dolphins could potentially make the playoffs with a win, but more importantly, the tiebreaker they’d have over the Bills would eliminate them from the playoffs, making this close to a win-and-in, lose-and-out game for the Bills. However, the league would probably prefer to maximize what the Dolphins have to play for, so might only pick this game if the Dolphins are completely out of the playoffs win or lose.
  • Panthers-Falcons might be picked if: The Falcons beat the Saints AND the Panthers win AND neither of the other scenarios happen. As mentioned last week, the Peach Bowl will be played at Mercedes-Benz Stadium at 12:30 the following day, making it unlikely the game even can be moved even to the late afternoon unless it’s moved to, say, the Georgia Tech campus (as is the turnaround time is similar to what the Big 12 title game would have faced if it was played the day after Indians-Cowboys the week after Thanksgiving, and that wound up getting it played early Saturday afternoon instead). Theoretically they can pull it off if they need to – there were multiple times this year that the Coliseum hosted a USC game on Saturday and a 1:05 or 1:25 PM local-time Rams game on Sunday, and I don’t know if a grass field is harder or easier to turn around than FieldTurf – but it’s not likely to make anyone happy even before considering that’s going from college to an NFL game, not the other way around and not when dealing with a major bowl game, which may have bigger logistical issues to deal with. Still, the fact I haven’t seen any actual reporting about the ability or lack thereof to play Panthers-Falcons later in the day might make me cautiously optimistic, though of course that also means there’s nothing saying it is possible like there was for Eagles-Rams.

Even if Panthers-Falcons can be moved to a later time slot, it’s still not guaranteed to happen and in fact the Saints are favored over the Falcons. That opens up the very real possibility that the NFL has no game that, by their usual standards, is suitable for the Sunday night Week 17 game – just about every game featuring a playoff team or contender will need to be played before or simultaneously with another game to ensure each team has as much to play for as possible, or at least to minimize the possibility of playoff positioning being determined by a team with nothing to play for, compounded by the potential of ratings going in the tank on New Year’s Eve. That could be instructive in terms of what the league prioritizes in such a situation. Here are some games to look for, and what scenarios might favor them, in very rough order of preference:

  • Cowboys-Eagles could be picked if: The Cowboys lose OR the Eagles win OR the Vikings lose. This at least eliminates the scenario where the Cowboys could make the playoffs by beating an Eagles team resting their starters, when the Eagles would have played their starters if they were playing before or simultaneously with the Vikings, or conversely where the Eagles can win home field by beating a Cowboys team eliminated from the playoffs, when the Cowboys would still be alive for the playoffs if they were playing before or simultaneously with the other NFC wild card contenders. This also assumes there’s no scenario where the outcome of this game affects tiebreakers but the Cowboys can’t actually win a tiebreaker. The theory for many of these is that, if all else fails, it’s okay for one team not to have anything to play for they otherwise would have as long as that doesn’t affect any races, especially if we’re just sacrificing a game to tank in the ratings against New Year’s Eve parties. One problem with this is that Raiders-Eagles is the Monday night game, which could hamstring the league’s ability to announce the game in a timely fashion and finalize the Week 17 schedule.
  • Jets-Patriots could be picked if: The Patriots and Steelers either both win or both lose. This would sort of create a cheat where the league assumes the Steelers will beat the lowly Browns and so forces the Patriots to defend their #1 seed. (Steelers-Texans is being played on Christmas on NBC, so this could run into much the same issue as Raiders-Eagles, but it’s not as acute and the game could still be announced on NBC itself as has been a semi-tradition.) If the Patriots win, Steelers lose, but the Jaguars win, the Patriots could still have to defend their #1 seed if the Jaguars go on to beat the Titans. One big problem with this is that New York is the home of what amounts to America’s New Year’s celebration; do we really want to make New Yorkers choose whether or not to watch the hapless Jets as the clock counts down to midnight?
  • Browns-Steelers could be picked if: The Browns lose. This is all about the trainwreck potential of the Browns going 0-16, and while the Steelers could be playing for playoff positioning, if their seed ends up getting locked in earlier in the day it’s fine as long as no one else is counting on them to win or lose. (I actually considered putting this game in the main section but decided against it because of the question of what the Steelers would have to play for.)
  • Packers-Lions could be picked if: The Lions win AND aren’t eliminated from the playoffs or face a scenario where their game determines who gets in without any chance of it being them. This is mostly about the Packers’ name value and relative quality even without Aaron Rodgers.
  • Saints-Bucs could be picked if: The Saints and Panthers both lose. If the Saints have already clinched the division, but are eliminated from a first-round bye, but can still affect whether they get the 3 or 4 seed, it’s not clear they’d care about that or even which wild card team they’d rather face.
  • Raiders-Chargers could be picked if: The Raiders lose OR the Titans win. If the Raiders enter Week 17 still in the playoff hunt, their playoff hopes need to still be alive when the game kicks off since it’ll still affect the Chargers’ playoff hopes, and with losses to the Bills and Ravens already in the bag that’s pretty likely.
  • Chiefs-Broncos could be picked if: The Chiefs lose AND the Chargers win. Two teams with passionate enough fanbases they’ll watch even if the Broncos are out of the playoffs and the Chiefs have a chance to have already clinched the division.
  • If all else fails, put Bengals-Ravens on if the Ravens are still alive and can’t affect who gets in without it being them. Or Bears-Vikings; the Bears suck but they’re still a big-market team and maybe Minnesota has a chance to steal the #1 seed. Or throw on two non-playoff teams in Texans-Colts or Trumps-Giants if you’d rather have that than subject America to the Bears (normally Trumps-Giants is preferable but having a game at MetLife Stadium that could end less than an hour before or even after midnight is even less palatable than having the Jets play that late).

33 thoughts on “Sunday Night Football Flex Scheduling Watch: Week 15

  1. Lets just say this is a nightmare scenario for the NFL and why I think in future years, the NFL I think needs to consider re-doing the last week of the regular season as I previously noted where all games in once conference kick off at 3:00 PM ET and the other conference at 7:00 PM ET. This can be done with spreading the games out between ALL of the NFL’s broadcast partners as previously noted, in this case including ABC (as a second game for Disney with the ESPN game also airing on the DT-2 Channel of your local ABC station) and the DT-2/DT-4 stations for CBS (Decades) and FOX (Movies or BUZZR) for some of the games (with all games airing mainly on DT-2/DT-4 channels also airing on cable outlets owned by Viacom and NewsCorp).

    This can be done by making the season 18 weeks with two byes (with the second bye specifically tied to mid-week games).

  2. Very interesting on Rivera, though he (and others in the NFL) might not be aware the Peach Bowl on New Year’s Day being at 12:30 PM ET being a potential roadblock.

    Still think the only way Panthers-Falcons is flexed is if Sunday Night Football becomes a special Saturday edition for the final week (which again, NBC would not be too upset about because it would mean “New Year’s Eve with Carson Daly” would be guaranteed to start on time). The Orange Bowl Committee might not like its game suddenly being opposite an NFL game, but the College Football Playoff Committee could have avoided this problem by having the Cotton Bowl be on New Year’s Day at 12:30 PM ET (11:30 AM local time in Dallas) and the Peach Bowl being on Friday night (when the Cotton Bowl is scheduled OR the NFL had this be the game in Charlotte instead of in Atlanta.

  3. There is no way in hell they are gonna move Panthers vs Falcons to Saturday so that game is not gonna be flexed so let’s look at the other options.

    TITANS VS JAGUARS- if the titans lose this week and the jaguars win this game will stay at 1pm or maybe this game and the bills vs dolphins will get flexed to 4:25 pm.

    COWBOYS VS EAGLES- If this game has playoff implications for both teams you can almost guarantee this game will get flexed to NBC




    TEXANS VS COLTS- Absolutely no chance at all, this game is terrible

    PACKERS VS LIONS- If this is the only game with playoff implications this could maybe get a flex


    JETS VS PATRIOTS- If it’s the only game with implications

    REDSKINS VS GIANTS- ????????????????????????????????????????


    BROWNS VS STEELERS- This game actually will be intriguing if the browns lose but if not no chance at all.

    BEARS VS VIKINGS- 1 out of a million chance.

    SAINTS VS BUCCANEERS- Slight chance if it’s the only game with implications.


    Also I think they should have the game start at 8:00 PM just in case the SNF game goes to overtime.

  4. I think they move Dallas vs Philadelphia to primetime. And I agree they should start the game at 8pm EST/ 5pm PAC

  5. Sorry Packers Lions Is Out Because The Packers are out of playoff contention. And ESPN Has already aired the first meeting. I Don’t Think NBC Would Put The packers on 2 Weeks in a row. Same With Dallas Philadelphia Becasue NBC Has already aired the first meeting.

  6. The case for changing how Week 17 works starts here. And, frankly, ought to end here.

    I’m absolutely with Walt Gekko here. The only thing I disagree with on is NBC getting a game the following Wednesday; two prime games in Week 17 with competition more than offsets one prime game without IMO, and a NY team playing that Wednesday (while a cool idea for a tradition) would force that team onto the Thanksgiving slate. “I’d love the Jets to get a Thanksgiving game every other year,” said no-one ever.

  7. David:

    In my format, whoever played the Wednesday-After-Thanksgiving game would most likely do so off a bye UNLESS the hosts for that game (Jets or Giants) happen to be scheduled for Thanksgiving Day (or the night before Thanksgiving, which also would be a new game) since you can in most years set it up so in years the Giants host that game, they also play Thanksgiving Day and say host the Cowboys in that Wednesday nighter.

  8. Oh, and if the Jags win, whether the Titans win or lose that final game could matter, especially if the Bills upset the Pats on Sunday and even more if the Steelers lose Christmas Day in Houston because then, regardless of what happens in the afternoon, the Jags would be in a position to grab a first-round bye with a win and it could be win and get the bye while knocking the Titans out of the postseason entirely.

  9. Well…..interesting article you found there Morgan. Tomorrow will decide alot, but it still may come down to the Monday Night Football game of Raiders @ Eagles to determine Week 17 SNF, though we all know the NFL would hate to wait that long. They do have that option though. We’ll see.

    As for a Wednesday night football game. Never gonna happen. The players hate Thursday Night Football games and would probably strike or say breach of the collective bargaining agreement, if it was tried. I actually didn’t mind Thursday Night Football games, when it was only half the season. Now all those Thursday Night Football games annoy me.

  10. Jeff:

    The Wednesday Night game in this case (week after Thanksgiving would be teams coming off a bye or playing in one of the Thanksgiving games. The second bye week I would add (going to 18 weeks) would account for mid-week gaines because the second bye would be specifically tied to mid-week games (including Thanksgiving).

    I also would have it where Week 1 is ENTIRELY mid-week games to avoid the NFL playing on Labor Day weekend (as that is a low-rated weekend with many away on one final summer getaway). In this scenario, the season opening game is on the Tuesday preceding Labor Day with CBS (on Wednesday) and FOX (on Thursday) getting their own regional doubleheaders (there would be no ESPN game in Week 1) with games at 7:30 and 10:55 PM ET those nights. Week 2 would have the ESPN opening doubleheader on the Wednesday after Labor Day (no different than playing the week after a Monday nighter for a team playing on Thursday in Week 1) with NBC getting Thursday and Sunday Night games in Week 2 and ESPN also getting its regular Monday night game that week. The Week 3 Thursday nighter would be teams that played Wednesday or Thursday in Week 2 and Week 4 would start teams playing the Thursday nighter off a bye week.

  11. Well, after today, you have to wonder what NBC would do?

    Would the NFL move more than one game to Sunday night if it meant guaranteeing NBC a meaningful game (putting one on NBC and the other on NBCSN and say COZI TV, NBC’s DT-2 Channel)? Unless you give NBC Browns-Steelers (the one game guaranteed to be compelling regardless of what happens since there is the Browns-can-go-0-16-factor), you will have to give NBC two games to guarantee a compelling game it looks like.

    This is why starting next year, the final week of the season should be where all games in one conference are scheduled for 3:00 PM and all games in the other conference are scheduled for 7:00 PM, divided up evenly between ALL of the NFL’s main broadcast partners with overflow games on ABC and the DT-2 channels of local CBS and FOX stations (and ABC for the ESPN game and COZI-TV, NBC’s DT-2 Channel for the NFL Network games). This is how it’s done in most other sports leagues around the world (including Major League Baseball which has all of its games start around 3:10 PM ET on the final day) and the NFL needs to follow suit.

  12. Not sure if a cross network flex is allowed, but if so this seems to be a reasonable setup:

    1:00 Buffalo/Miami (CBS)

    1:00 Cincinnati/Baltimore (Flexed to Fox)

    4:00 Oakland/SD (CBS)
    Arizona/Seattle (Flex to CBS)

    4:00 Carolina/Atlanta (Fox)

    8:30 Tennessee/Jacksonville (NBC)


    – Keeps Fox 4PM game important by playing at same time. Otherwise risk 4PM with no importance)

    – Fox gets a flex game to fix 1:00 slot, could be Buffalo/Miami instead

    – A Buffalo or San Diego Win forces Tennessee to Win, good chance one will win and set up Sunday night.

    – If Baltimore loses and Buffalo wins, NBC can shift everyone to ARZ/SEA at 4:00 as SD is eliminated

  13. Oops,

    Brain froze on a Fox 1:00 NO/TB game, with Car/Atl at 4, thats a fine opener.

    Kill the cross flexes, CBS put Cin/Bal at 1:00 and both the Buf/Mia and Oak/SD to 4.

    Jax/Ten stays Sunday Night

  14. I suspect the NFL will have no choice but to put Jags-Titans on Sunday night as that is the closest to a game to likely have meaning regardless of the outcome of earlier games (and with a Chiefs win over the Broncos, the Jags would have to win to get the #3 seed and they can knock their division rivals out at the same time). The only game guaranteed to have “meaning” if flexed to Sunday night would be Browns-Steelers for all the wrong reasons. Otherwise, the NFL might have to work out a deal with the CFB Playoff Committee and the Peach Bowl Committee (and ESPN) where the Peach Bowl is pushed back to Tuesday 1/2 so NBC can have Panthers-Falcons and Cardinals-Seahawks on SNF (one airing on NBC, the other on NBCSN and COZI-TV).

    This is a real mess where the NFL might also have to say screw it and not give NBC ANY game and make it up to NBC either next season or give NBC an extra playoff game this season and find a way to compensate whichever network was supposed to have three playoff games during the first two weekends of the playoffs this year next season.

  15. I did say the NFL might have to say screw it and they have!

    I suspect the NFL will have to find a way to compensate NBC for not having a Sunday Night game next week, whether it be giving NBC an extra playoff game this season (and finding a way to compensate FOX or CBS, whichever lost a game because of this next season) or give NBC an extra game next season.

    One solution to this for next year would be to give NBC my previously suggested Wednesday-after-Thanksgiving game tied to the tree lighting in Rockefeller Plaza (with such most likely being Patriots-Jets if you have one of the New York teams hosting that game) PLUS give NBC an extra flex week with no protections allowed by FOX or CBS OR where NBC is allowed to on one occasion force a protection override where NBC is allowed to take a game protected by FOX or CBS anyway one time only.

    Maybe this also leads to what I’ve been suggesting in various spots of the NFL going to having all games in one conference at 3:00 PM and the other at 7:00 PM ET and dividing them up between ALL of the broadcast partners. This can be a new Week 18 with all teams getting a second bye week tied to the mid-week games.

  16. I’m still not sure I buy Walt’s “all games at 3 and 7” idea, and I really don’t buy the “Wednesday after Thanksgiving” part of it, but at this point it might at least be worth thinking about. At most, though, I would adopt something like the “reverse mirror” ESPN and ABC have for college football, and give each network one game to put on the broadcast network and one game to put on a cable outlet in each time slot, which would be flipped (or even syndicated to CW/MyNet/indy stations) in the home markets of the cable games. So something like this:

    NBC: Jaguars-Titans (Tirico/Warner)
    CBS: Jets-Patriots (Nantz/Romo) (if the Steelers lose Monday slide this down to the ESPN spot and give it the Bengals-Ravens team)
    FOX: Raiders-Chargers (Burkhardt/Davis)
    ABC: Bengals-Ravens (Mowins/some analyst that’s not Rex Ryan)
    ESPN: Bills-Dolphins (Steve Levy/Brian Griese)
    NFLN (produced by NBC): Browns-Steelers (Hammond/NFLN personnel)
    FS1: Chiefs-Broncos (Myers/Johnston)
    CBSSN: Texans-Colts (Harlan/Gannon)

    NBC: Panthers-Falcons (Michaels/Collinsworth)
    FOX: Cowboys-Eagles (Buck/Aikman) (if the Eagles win Monday slide this down to the ESPN spot and give it McDonough and Gruden)
    CBS: 49ers-Rams (Eagle/Fouts)
    ABC: Cardinals-Seahawks (McDonough/Gruden)
    ESPN: Saints-Bucs (Adam Amin/some analyst)
    NFLN (produced by CBS): Bears-Vikings (Gumbel/Green)
    FS1: Washington-Giants (Albert/Barber)
    NBCSN: Packers-Lions (Hicks/NFLN personnel)

  17. Wow that was unexpected.

    Should of given NBC a 4:25 game for a triple header, I suppose too may games may promote empty seats at games of no interest.

    Seems like a good day for hit a bar at 4 and then just keep drinking

  18. Morgan:

    As noted in my plan, the cable network games (ESPN, NFLN, etc.) would also air on DT-2 channels (ESPN games on most likely LiveWell, ABC’s DT-2 channel, NFLN games on COZI TV, NBC’s DT-2 channel and the others on DECADES, CBS’s DT-2 channel and BUZZR or MOVIES, FOX’s DT-2/DT-4 channels). That assures all games are on over-the-air outlets. I would also have it where all games are streamed free of charge and with no special sign in (and overriding any normal NFL deals with Verizon so it can include phones) to keep elected officials happy.

  19. I’ve posted how I would expand the schedule to 18 weeks (including the “all games the last day at 3:00 and 7:00 PM ET” part) on the Eagles Message Board. You do have to become a member of that board to see that post and post there.

  20. As I would do the 3:00 and 7:00 PM setup this year if the NFL had done that:

    NFC at 3:00 PM ET (due to Panthers-Falcons having to be in the afternoon due to the Peach Bowl the next day):
    NBC: Panthers-Falcons (Michaels/Collinsworth)
    FOX: Cardinals-Seahawks (Burkhardt/Davis)
    CBS: Saints-Bucs (Eagle/Fouts)
    ABC: Cowboys-Eagles (McDonough/Gruden)
    ESPN: Bears-Vikings (also on LiveWell, Beth Mowins/Anthony Becht)
    NFLN (produced by NBC): Packers-Lions (also on COZI TV, Kenny Albert/Doug Flutie)
    MOVIES/BUZZR (FOX DT-2/DT-4): Redskins-Giants (also on a cable outlet TBD, Thom Brenneman/Chris Speilman)
    DECADES (CBS DT-2): 49ers-Rams (also on CBSSN or SPIKE TV, Andrew Catalon/James Lofton)

    NOTE: Kenny Albert does the NHL for NBC, so I would suspect here NBC would be allowed to borrow Albert for the final week on the NFL with NBC producing four games (as the two NFLN games would also air on COZI TV, NBC’s DT-2 Channel).

    AFC at 7:00 PM ET:
    NBC: Jaguars-Titans (Tirico/Warner)
    CBS: Bills-Dolphins (Nantz/Romo)
    FOX: Jets-Patriots (Buck/Aikman)
    ABC: Raiders-Chargers (Chris Fowler/Kirk Herbstreit)
    ESPN: Bengals-Ravens (also on LiveWell, Steve Levy/Brian Griese)
    NFLN (produced by NBC): Browns-Steelers (also on COZI TV, Mike Emrick?/Kurt Warner)
    MOVIES/BUZZR: Chiefs-Broncos (also on a cable outlet TBD, Myers/Johnston)
    DECADES: Texans-Colts (also on CBSSN or SPIKE TV, Harlan/Gannon)

  21. I wonder if the no SNF game Week 17 is for this season only or will become a permanent thing in the future. It does make sense this year because Sunday falls on New Year’s Eve just like yesterday was Christmas Eve there was no SNF game and they played Saturday instead. Maybe they will have no SNF game in Week 17 only when it falls on NYE.

    Or maybe they will make it permanent. MLB has every game the last day of the season start around the same time for competitive balance. Maybe the NFL just does away with SNF the last week and does 1pm/4:25pm the last week (or 3pm/7pm as Walt suggests). Of course compensating NBC for the missing week is the issue. They really don’t have any more TV inventory available without taking games away from another TV partner at this point.

    Only possibility I can think of is expanding the playoffs from 12 to 14 teams and giving NBC the SNF playoff game in the first round. First round would be 3 playoff games Saturday 1, 4:30, 8 and Sunday 1, 4:30, 8. NBC would have two 1st round games, the SNF game and a second game, most likely the Saturday night game with ABC getting one, CBS and FOX getting one and either CBS or FOX gets a 2nd one (whichever network doesn’t get two 2nd round games that year). The 2nd round remains four games, one NBC, one of CBS or FOX gets two and the other gets one. But now CBS, FOX, and NBC will get three games total between the first two rounds each year while ABC gets one for a total of 10.

  22. Scmolik:

    I had previously proposed doing the expanded playoff schedule from 12 to 14 teams, but there is one potential monkey wrench: The Golden Globe awards, which are on the Sunday night of the wild card round this year and are difficult to move to other than the Saturday before the NFL conference title games or the week between the conference title games and Super Bowl. Otherwise, as I would do it:

    ESPN/ABC gets a Saturday afternoon doubleheader (1:00 and 4:45 PM ET)

    CBS/FOX each get one game on Sunday
    (1:00/4:45 PM ET)

    NBC gets the prime time game both nights with kickoff at 8:45 PM ET.

    The Divisional round reverts back to what it used to be with CBS and FOX each getting a game each day. One change, however, is the games on Sunday would be at 3:00 and 8:30 PM ET so CBS can air “60 Minutes” in full at 7:00 PM ET to fulfill FCC requirements ahead of the prime time game in years they get it with a half-hour pre-game show on CBS those years and FOX getting a 90-minute pre-game show in years they get the Sunday night game in the divisional round.

  23. Forgot to note, that change with the playoffs would also be where I would change it to where playoff seeding is SOLELY based on record with a division champion only getting preference over a wild card for seeding when both have the same record (otherwise, if it just happens the two best records in a conference happen to be in the same division, those teams are seeded 1-2 (with the 1 seed the only team to get a bye in the first round) and a division champ of a very week division could wind up the 7 seed.

  24. Schmolik:

    I see the Week 17 SNF game being resumed next year. The only way I don’t see it, is if a game can’t be found that meets their criteria. Like exactly what happens this year. This year 5 of the 16 games in Week 17 have ZERO impact on the playoffs. If that happens next season and no game can be found as “win and in”, then i see 1 of the zero impact games being chosen. Next time that we have presumably have Week 17 being on Dec. 31st is in 6 years….2023. We’ll see. Just my take.

  25. Oh….and if all stays the same, as far as the NFL schedulemaking, then in 2023 I would have the season end on Sat. Dec. 30th with all 16 games played that day.

  26. I think there is a good chance the lightbulb will turn on with the simultaneous games this year and some form of the Gekko type plan will be phased in over the near future. A couple nail biters on the same network this year would help put it over the top.

  27. Rob:

    I suspect the NFL is leaning that way. The NFL had to this year put all the games that matter at 4:25 PM because it was too late to do a last-minute redo of the schedule where multiple games are moved to 7:00 PM ET, especially as I suspect local authorities in several cities might have gone as far as gone to court to block such moves and the NFL would have gotten massive blowback from religious groups on the west coast if any games were moved up to 10:00 AM local time so you had meaningful games at 1:00 PM ET.

    I suspect going with one set of games at 3:00 PM ET and the other at 7:00 PM ET is the way to go. This is how its done in other leagues worldwide and the NFL needs to do something like this.

    I’d also when New Year’s falls on a Sunday in future years make the final day Saturday, December 30 while also having no games on Christmas Day and instead on the next-to-last week have a Thursday nighter along with a Friday night doubleheader (7:30 & 10:55 PM ET) and a Saturday quadrupleheader (12:30, 4:15, 8:00 and 11:45 PM ET) so no teams are playing the final day on four days rest.

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