Week 11 (November 18):
- Tentative game: Pittsburgh @ Jacksonville
- Prospects: 5-2-1 v. 3-5. Getting concerningly lopsided, and the Jaguars are losing contact with the division lead.
- Likely protections: Bengals-Ravens if anything (CBS) and Vikings-Bears or Eagles-Saints (more likely the former even if Fox needs to protect Eagles games) (FOX).
- Other possible games mentioned on last week’s Watch and their records: Texans (6-3)-Indians (5-3).
- Impact of Monday Night Football: None.
- Analysis: On the one hand the Texans won, on the other hand the Steelers also won and Washington lost so we’re only one result short from the scenario that I thought would result in the tentative keeping its spot… on the other hand we’re also only one result from one where I might have flexed in Texans-Indians without much of a thought. As it stands Texans-Indians is still a battle of two teams with the division lead, one of which is in the NFC East. Questioning whether the Eagles are actually maxed out on primetime appearances or not doesn’t change the analysis that much.
- Final prediction: Houston Texans @ Washington Indians.
- Actual selection: Minnesota Vikings @ Chicago Bears (which I accidentally encountered on Twitter before writing this post). Well that puts a whole new wrinkle into the question of whether the Eagles are actually maxed out on primetime appearances; as mentioned, even if they weren’t given the Eagles’ mediocre start I would have figured Fox would have protected Vikings-Bears anyway, especially given the in-division rivalry factor. Even leaving it unprotected, Texans-Indians has a slightly better pair of records and, given their market sizes and the presence of J.J. Watt and an NFC East team, isn’t that much less TV-friendly, and even if you’d normally give the edge to TV-friendlier Vikings-Bears Fox could have given it the lead doubleheader slot (now going to Eagles-Saints) while Texans-Indians will now be mired in singleheader purgatory. And then there’s the fact Steelers-Jaguars is going to CBS, not Fox, showing the league can make exceptions to the “flexed-out game always goes to the network losing a game” rule even though it would have made a lot more sense to bend that rule Week 7.