Category Archives: SNF Flex Scheduling Watch

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 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 17 (December 28):

AFC Playoff Picture
DIVISION
LEADERS
WILD CARD WAITING IN
THE WINGS (7-7)
NORTH
49-4-1
59-5
2 tied at 9-5
SOUTH
310-4
69-5
CLINCHED
WEST
211-3
8-6
CLINCHED 8-6
EAST
111-3
8-6
CLINCHED
NFC Playoff Picture
DIVISION
LEADERS
WILD CARD WAITING IN THE
NFC SOUTH WINGS
SOUTH
46-8
510-4 5-9
5-8-1
EAST
310-4
610-4
9-5
NORTH
210-4
9-5
10-4
WEST
111-3
10-4
  • Tentative game: None (NBC will show game with guaranteed playoff implications).
  • Possible games: Panthers-Falcons, Lions-Packers, Chargers-Chiefs, Bills-Patriots, Bengals-Steelers (with the first three being most likely). Sadly for any chance of seeing Johnny Manziel in primetime this season, on top of his bad play the Browns’ conference record is atrocious, especially compared to the Chiefs and Chargers, essentially eliminating Browns-Ravens as a guaranteed win-and-you’re-in game for the Browns, though there’s an off chance it’s a loser-out game for the Ravens.
  • Lions-Packers will be selected if: The Packers win OR the Lions and Cowboys lose. If the Lions were to win and the Packers lose the Lions would cinch the conference tiebreaker; both teams hold tiebreakers over Philly so there is pretty much no way for this to be a loser-out game, but either team, with a win, would cinch a first-round bye contingent on winning the division. Even if a first-round bye isn’t guaranteed to be on the line, however, this game would probably still be flexed in with a Lions loss and a Cowboys win if any of the other scenarios fail to play out.
  • Panthers-Falcons will be picked if: The Panthers win AND the Falcons beat the Saints AND the Lions-Packers scenario doesn’t happen. The Saints winning on Monday night and the Falcons losing Sunday actually isn’t a disaster for this game’s chances; the Falcons would tie the Saints in the standings and hold a head-to-head sweep with a win, but the Panthers do need to hold up their end of the bargain, as a loss would leave them dependent on what the Saints do against the Bucs. Both the NFL and NBC really hope this doesn’t happen.
  • Chargers-Chiefs will be picked if: The Chiefs beat the Steelers AND the Chargers win AND the Ravens win AND the Lions-Packers scenario doesn’t happen. Though neither team is in position right now, their respective conference records have them in such good shape for cross-division tiebreakers it could actually hurt this game’s chances for the loser to be out; if the Steelers and Ravens both lose out, the Chiefs would still hold a head-to-head tiebreaker over the Steelers, and the Bills’ conference record is even worse than that of the Browns so they would be a nonfactor in this scenario.
  • Bengals-Steelers will be picked if: The Bengals lose AND the Chiefs beat the Steelers AND the Chargers win AND (the Ravens win AND the Lions-Packers scenario doesn’t happen) OR (the Lions win AND the Packers lose AND the Panthers-Falcons scenario doesn’t happen). If the Ravens lose either week, this game is for the division with the loser falling behind the Chiefs-Chargers winner, but if the Steelers lose out, they could easily still make the playoffs if the Ravens also lose out and the Chiefs beat the Chargers, and a Browns win this week doesn’t help that because they split the season series with the Steelers (with both also splitting with the Ravens), would finish with the same division record (ahead of the Ravens), and lose the common games tiebreaker. For the Bengals, the problem is all the more acute because tiebreakers don’t factor into it at all; in the wild card race, they can only fall behind the Chiefs, Chargers, or Bills if those teams win out, or the Ravens if they pick up at least one win. Division winner versus 6 seed might still be attractive to NBC, but not if the division winner would hold the 4 seed, or worse, if the game just determines home field for a rematch the following week. So this game actually has a better shot if it’s not guaranteed to be for the division, because that ensures that the loser will fall to third in the division on top of falling behind the Chiefs-Chargers winner. (UPDATE 12/18: Just realized the Bengals are playing on Monday night, making this all the more unlikely and possibly dependent on the Steelers winning. This game may be just plain out unless there are no other options.)
  • Bills-Patriots might be picked if: The Bills win AND the Steelers beat the Chiefs AND the Ravens and Chargers lose AND the Lions win AND the Packers lose AND the Panthers-Falcons situation doesn’t happen. Even then, the Patriots have already locked up the division and a lot would depend on what the Broncos and Colts do; this game would probably need the Patriots to lose and the Broncos to win, and a Colts win would be nice as well. But if all this happens, the Bills would lose a tiebreaker to the Chiefs-Chargers winner with a loss, while the worst-case scenario with a win would be going to strength of victory against the Ravens. All told, chances are NBC will continue its streak of airing all NFC matchups since Week 17 went to all-division matchups in 2010.

Sunday Night Football Flex Scheduling Watch: Week 14

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 16 (December 21):

  • Selected game: Seattle @ Arizona.

Week 17 (December 28):

AFC Playoff Picture
DIVISION
LEADERS
WILD CARD WAITING IN
THE WINGS
NORTH
48-4-1
58-5 7-6
2 tied at 8-5 7-6
SOUTH
39-4
68-5 7-6
7-6 7-6
WEST
210-3
8-5 7-6
8-5
EAST
110-3
2 teams at 7-6
NFC Playoff Picture
DIVISION
LEADERS
WILD CARD WAITING IN
THE WINGS (7-6)
SOUTH
45-8
59-4
5-8
EAST
39-4
69-4
9-4
NORTH
210-3
9-4
9-4
WEST
110-3
9-4
  • 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 is out because it depends on the outcome of the Seahawks-Cardinals game even in the exceedingly unlikely scenario where it’s relevant, and if the Seahawks won the NFL would want to make the two NFC West games simultaneous even if there were no other options.
  • Chances of Lions-Packers: 60 percent. This is probably the odds-on favorite, but a lot depends on whether or not the NFL would want to take this game if the loser might still get a wild card spot. The Lions won the first game, so they just need to stay within a game of the Packers for the division to be on the line, but the best-case scenario for this game involves both teams slipping so they can’t fall back on a wild card spot. On the other hand, if both teams excel and the NFC East teams slip the winner could be guaranteed a first-round bye, which could outweigh the loser still getting a wild card spot. The fact that this is by far the most TV-friendly option also weighs in its favor.
  • Chances of Panthers-Falcons: 19 percent. Since moving to the all-division-games system for Week 17, the Sunday night game has a long tradition of hosting a division title game for the suckiest division in the NFL, but that looks to be unlikely this year. Falcons-Saints or Saints-Falcons would be a lock if they played each other, but instead this game’s chances depend on the Saints going on a losing streak while the Panthers and Falcons win. The Saints really only need to lose one more game than the Panthers or Falcons, though; a lot’s riding on the Week 16 Falcons-Saints game and how much the NFL would be willing to subject America to this game if there are other options available.
  • Chances of Browns-Ravens: 5 percent. There’s an exceedingly slim chance this game is for the division if the Browns win their next two, the Bengals lose their next two, and the Ravens win one more game than the Steelers. More likely, though still not likely, is that this game is for a wild card spot, but that would require the Browns to win one more game than the other 7-6 teams and the Chargers to fall behind in the wild card race as well. It does help that even if the Browns don’t beat the Bengals, they’d still hold the division tiebreaker over the Ravens with a win Week 17.
  • Chances of Chargers-Chiefs: 5 percent. The Chiefs were swept by the Broncos, so they’re already eliminated from the division, but the idea of this game being for a wild card spot is intriguing. As with the Lions, the Chiefs won the first game with the Chargers and so only need to stay within a game of them, but the AFC wild card race is very crowded when you consider the 7-6 teams. It’s highly unlikely the Chiefs can be guaranteed a wild card spot with a win; they’d need to at least outperform the teams I have listed ahead of them. Combine that with this game’s lack of marquee value and it’s a real long shot.
  • Chances of Bills-Patriots: 1 percent. There is exactly one scenario where this game even has a shot: the Bills win their next two, the Patriots lose their next two, and the Dolphins lose to the Vikings Week 16, since this scenario assumes they’d beat the Patriots. That doesn’t even get into the wild card situation.
  • Chances of Bengals-Steelers: 10 percent. This might have the best shot of any AFC game, but it’s still unlikely. It’s another game where the NFL would have to weigh the possibility of the loser getting a wild card spot. The most likely scenario might involve the teams being in wild card position going in but the loser guaranteed to fall behind the Browns-Ravens or Chargers-Chiefs winner. The lack of name value also hurts it.

Sunday Night Football Flex Scheduling Watch: Week 13

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):

  • Selected game: Denver @ Kansas City.

Week 14 (December 7):

  • Selected game: New England @ San Diego.

Week 15 (December 14):

  • Selected game: Dallas @ Philadelphia.

Week 16 (December 21):

  • Tentative game: Seattle @ Arizona
  • Prospects: At one point this game looked like it was going to be lopsided, but now at 8-4 v. 9-3, the winner of this game looks to have pole position in the NFC West.
  • Protected games: Colts-Cowboys (CBS) and Lions-Bears (FOX).
  • Other possible games: Chiefs-Steelers is the only game involving two teams over .500, with Ravens-Texans lurking about.
  • Analysis: Chiefs-Steelers is 7-5 v. 7-5, Ravens-Texans 7-5 v. 6-6. The best either can hope for is parity with the lesser of the two teams in the tentative. Even if the game becomes lopsided again, you have to imagine the tentative game bias will carry the day. Barring something completely unexpected that will give away another of the NFL’s arcane/unwritten rules, we will have an entire season of no flexes until Week 17.
  • Final prediction: Seattle Seahawks @ Arizona Cardinals (no change).

Week 17 (December 28):

AFC Playoff Picture
DIVISION
LEADERS
WILD CARD WAITING IN
THE WINGS
SOUTH
48-4
58-4 7-5
6-6 6-6
NORTH
38-3-1
67-5
3 tied at 7-5
WEST
29-3
7-5
8-4 7-5
EAST
19-3
7-5
2 teams at 7-5 7-5
NFC Playoff Picture
DIVISION
LEADERS
WILD CARD WAITING IN THE
NFC SOUTH WINGS
SOUTH
45-7
58-4 3-8-1
5-7
EAST
39-3
68-4
8-4
NORTH
29-3
8-4
8-4 7-5
WEST
19-3
8-4
  • 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.

Sunday Night Football Flex Scheduling Watch: Week 12

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):

  • Selected game: Denver @ Kansas City.

Week 14 (December 7):

  • Selected game: New England @ San Diego.

Week 15 (December 14):

  • Tentative game: Dallas @ Philadelphia
  • Final prediction (made last week): Dallas Cowboys @ Philadelphia Eagles (no change).

Week 16 (December 21):

  • Tentative game: Seattle @ Arizona
  • Prospects: 7-4 v. 9-2 is less lopsided than before, but even if Arizona had won that game, what do you flex it out for?
  • Protected games: Colts-Cowboys (CBS) and Lions-Bears (FOX).
  • Other possible games: Chiefs-Steelers at 7-4 v. 7-4 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
SOUTH
47-4
57-4 6-5
5-6 6-5
NORTH
37-3-1
67-4 5-6
3 tied at 7-4
WEST
28-3
7-4
2 tied at 7-4 7-4
EAST
19-2
7-4
2 teams at 6-5
NFC Playoff Picture
DIVISION
LEADERS
WILD CARD WAITING IN
THE WINGS (5-6)
SOUTH
44-7
58-3
4-7
EAST
38-3
67-4
8-3
NORTH
28-3
7-4
7-4 7-4
WEST
19-2
2 tied at 7-4
  • 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.

Sunday Night Football Flex Scheduling Watch: Week 11

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):

  • Selected game: Denver @ Kansas City.

Week 14 (December 7):

  • Tentative game: New England @ San Diego
  • Prospects: 8-2 v. 6-4. A teensy bit lopsided, but still a very good game.
  • Protected games: Steelers-Bengals (CBS) and Seahawks-Eagles (FOX).
  • Other possible games: Colts-Browns, Ravens-Dolphins, and Chiefs-Cardinals are all options, with Bills-Broncos fading, but none of those are particularly appealing.
  • Analysis: With the other two games being matchups of 6-4 teams, Chiefs-Cardinals definitely has an edge over its competition at 7-3 v. 9-1, which actually makes it a game better than the tentative. But if it’s standing at 8-3 v. 10-1, and Patriots-Chargers is at 8-3 v. 6-5, which is the best-case scenario for a flex, I’m not sure that’s overcoming the tentative game bias, especially when Tom Brady is involved. Worth noting that Fox has the doubleheader this week, so it would take a crossflex for Chiefs-Cardinals to reach a larger audience if it doesn’t get flexed in, and the protected game is plenty good enough for them anyway; of course, Patriots-Chargers is a CBS game too. If a team like the Patriots weren’t involved I might hold off for a week, but as it is?
  • Final prediction: New England Patriots @ San Diego Chargers (no change).

Week 15 (December 14):

  • Tentative game: Dallas @ Philadelphia
  • Prospects: 7-3 v. 7-3 with the division lead in the NFC East potentially at stake.
  • Protected games: Broncos-Chargers (CBS) and 49ers-Seahawks (FOX).
  • Other possible games: Bengals-Browns and Dolphins-Patriots are options, with Packers-Bills and Texans-Colts dark horses, but time may have run out for them if they ever really had a chance. Dolphins-Patriots is the best of the bunch at 6-4 v. 8-2; if it gets to be 8-4 v. 10-2, and Cowboys-Eagles starts getting lopsided at 9-3 v. 7-5 either way, that’s really only a game better than the tentative with the same gap in records, which isn’t going to overcome the tentative game bias. again especially when the Cowboys are involved. These two teams are guaranteed to have the top two records in the division when the decision is made, making lopsidedness the only possible point against it and this prediction officially a mortal lock.
  • Final prediction: Dallas Cowboys @ Philadelphia Eagles (no change).

Week 16 (December 21):

  • Tentative game: Seattle @ Arizona
  • Prospects: 6-4 v. 9-1 is getting worryingly lopsided, and the 49ers have tied the Seahawks for second in the division, but what do you flex it out for?
  • Protected games: Colts-Cowboys (CBS) and Lions-Bears (FOX).
  • Other possible games: Chiefs-Steelers at 7-3 v. 7-4 is the only game involving two teams over .500, with Ravens-Texans a dark horse. That’s not overcoming the tentative game bias.

Week 17 (December 28):

AFC Playoff Picture
DIVISION
LEADERS
WILD CARD WAITING IN
THE WINGS (5-5)
SOUTH
46-4
57-3
5-5
NORTH
36-3-1
67-4
7-4
WEST
27-3
6-4
7-3 6-4
EAST
18-2
6-4
6-4 6-4
NFC Playoff Picture
DIVISION
LEADERS
WILD CARD WAITING IN
THE WINGS (5-5)
SOUTH
44-6
57-3
4-6
EAST
37-3
67-3
7-3
NORTH
27-3
6-4
7-3 6-4
WEST
18-1
2 tied at 6-4
  • 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.

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.

Last-Minute Remarks on SNF Week 12 Picks

Week 12 (November 23):

  • Tentative game: Dallas @ NY Giants
  • Prospects: 7-3 v. 3-6. Pretty lopsided, but the Cowboys being flexed out of SNF would probably be a harbinger of the apocalypse, especially when they’re not the ones dragging it down.
  • Protected games: Dolphins-Broncos (CBS).
  • Other possible games mentioned on Tuesday’s Watch and their records: Lions (7-2)-Patriots (7-2), Cardinals (8-1)-Seahawks (6-3).
  • Impact of Monday Night Football: None.
  • Analysis: Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if ANY of these three games ends up the Sunday night game; Lions-Patriots has the best combination of name value and good records, but in terms of pure quality isn’t really that far ahead of Cardinals-Seahawks, and I continue to maintain that it’s the best candidate for a crossflex to CBS. On the other hand, NBC is already slated to air the other half of Seahawks-Cardinals, which does matter, and while I got a lot of comments on my last post that seemed to agree only that this game WOULD be flexed out, only disagreeing on which game it would be flexed out for, anyone who thinks NBC wouldn’t want (or the NFL wouldn’t want them to have) a name team well below .500 when the Cowboys are involved doesn’t know their history. This is probably the closest scenario there is to a situation where the Cowboys would be flexed out, but while that means I wouldn’t be surprised if the game gets flexed out, it doesn’t make it particularly likely.
  • Final prediction: Dallas Cowboys @ New York Giants (no change) (Lions-Patriots if there’s a flex).

Sunday Night Football Flex Scheduling Watch: Week 9

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):

  • Tentative game: Dallas @ NY Giants
  • Prospects: 6-3 v. 3-5. Pretty lopsided, but the Cowboys being flexed out of SNF would probably be a harbinger of the apocalypse, especially when they’re not the ones dragging it down.
  • Protected games: Dolphins-Broncos (CBS).
  • Other possible games: Lions-Patriots is the best option, with Cardinals-Seahawks starting to look slightly lopsided.
  • Analysis: 7-2 v. 6-2 is certainly better than the tentative, but Lions-Patriots isn’t really a big enough game involving (in the case of the Lions) a big enough name to justify flexing out Cowboys-Giants, and may end up getting crossflexed to doubleheader-holding CBS instead (whose best game is the protected game), leaving Cardinals-Seahawks as a game without much hope of overcoming the tentative game bias. Like I say, it would be a harbinger of the apocalypse for a Cowboys game to be flexed out of SNF, especially when the Cowboys are actually good, but I really do think if it were any other two teams with these records they’d be flexed out easily. And considering one of my commenters thinks they might want to reduce the gap in prep time between the Cowboys and Eagles for the Thanksgiving game (why not schedule a shorter gap in the first place then?), and considering this might be the most flexible game on the slate (and most appealing available alternative) the rest of the way, they may yet do so.

Week 13 (November 30):

  • Tentative game: Denver @ Kansas City
  • Prospects: 6-2 v. 5-3. Suddenly looking like a much more interesting game than it was looking like for much of the season.
  • 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. That could kill any chance of this game getting flexed out with the Chiefs resurgent.

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: 6-3 v. 6-2 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: 5-3 v. 7-1 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):

  • Playoff positioning watch begins next week because I kind of don’t have Internet at home at the moment.

Sunday Night Football Flex Scheduling Watch: Week 8

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):

  • Tentative game: New England @ Indianapolis
  • Prospects: 6-2 v. 5-3; hard to imagine it losing its spot.
  • Protected games: Eagles-Packers (FOX).
  • Other possible games: Seahawks-Chiefs is an option and Texans-Browns is a dark horse, but…
  • Analysis: Lions-Cardinals is clearly the best option for a flex at 6-2 v. 6-1, compared to Seahawks-Chiefs at 4-3 v. 4-3. It’s also slightly better than Patriots-Colts, but probably not enough so to overcome the tentative game bias, even in a best-case scenario (the Lions have a bye this week so the best it can do is 6-2 v. 7-1 compared to 6-3 v. 5-4), nor are either of them particularly name teams on the level of the Pats or Colts.
  • Final prediction: New England Patriots @ Indianapolis Colts (no change).

Week 12 (November 23):

  • Tentative game: Dallas @ NY Giants
  • Prospects: 6-2 v. 3-4. This game is starting to look lopsided, but the Cowboys being flexed out of SNF would probably be a harbinger of the apocalypse, especially when they’re not the ones dragging it down.
  • Protected games: Dolphins-Broncos (CBS).
  • Other possible games: Lions-Patriots is the best option, with Cardinals-Seahawks starting to look lopsided. Lions-Patriots, though, isn’t quite a big enough game involving (in the case of the Lions) a big enough name to justify flexing out Cowboys-Giants, and may end up getting crossflexed to doubleheader-holding CBS instead (whose best game is the protected game), leaving Cardinals-Seahawks as a game without much hope of overcoming the tentative game bias. Bengals-Texans is a dark horse.

Week 13 (November 30):

  • Tentative game: Denver @ Kansas City
  • Prospects: 6-1 v. 4-3. Not terribly lopsided at the moment, but doesn’t have the Cowboys invulnerability factor.
  • 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. Could either one overcome the opportunity to have Peyton Manning on?

Week 14 (December 7):

  • Tentative game: New England @ San Diego
  • Prospects: 6-2 v. 5-3. Very strong to keep its spot.
  • 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, especially given the tentative they’d have to unseat.

Week 15 (December 14):

  • Tentative game: Dallas @ Philadelphia
  • Prospects: 6-2 v. 5-2 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). Texans-Colts is a dark horse.

Week 16 (December 21):

  • Tentative game: Seattle @ Arizona
  • Prospects: 4-3 v. 6-1 is starting to look a mite lopsided, but 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. Ravens-Texans is a dark horse.

Week 17 (December 28):

  • Playoff positioning watch begins Week 9.

Sunday Night Football Flex Scheduling Watch: Week 7

Now with full list of protections!

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):

  • Tentative game: New England @ Indianapolis
  • Prospects: 5-2 v. 5-2; hard to imagine it losing its spot.
  • Protected games: Eagles-Packers (FOX).
  • Other possible games: Lions-Cardinals is probably the best option. Seahawks-Chiefs is a very dark horse.

Week 12 (November 23):

  • Tentative game: Dallas @ NY Giants
  • Prospects: 6-1 v. 3-4. This game is starting to look lopsided, but the Cowboys being flexed out of SNF would probably be a harbinger of the apocalypse, especially when they’re not the ones dragging it down.
  • Protected games: Dolphins-Broncos (CBS).
  • Other possible games: This was my only whiff on picking the protections; I had thought Fox would protect Cardinals-Seahawks or Lions-Patriots here, but those aren’t such huge games involving such big names as to justify reducing the chance of getting Cowboys-Giants back. Lions-Patriots is the best option; Cardinals-Seahawks is now only a dark horse.

Week 13 (November 30):

  • Tentative game: Denver @ Kansas City
  • Prospects: 5-1 v. 3-3. Not terribly lopsided at the moment, but doesn’t have the Cowboys invulnerability factor.
  • Protected games: Patriots-Packers (CBS) and Saints-Steelers (FOX).
  • Other possible games: Thanksgiving weekend, paucity of good games, especially with Eagles-Cowboys on Thanksgiving. Browns-Bills is a dark horse, but Chargers-Ravens is really the only good option. Would that overcome the chance to have Peyton Manning on?

Week 14 (December 7):

  • Tentative game: New England @ San Diego
  • Prospects: 5-2 v. 5-2. Very strong to keep its spot.
  • Protected games: Steelers-Bengals (CBS) and Seahawks-Eagles (FOX).
  • Other possible games: Colts-Browns, Ravens-Dolphins, and Chiefs-Cardinals are dark horses, but only Bills-Broncos involves two teams over .500, and none of those are particularly appealing, especially given the tentative they’d have to unseat.

Week 15 (December 14):

  • Tentative game: Dallas @ Philadelphia
  • Prospects: 6-1 v. 5-1 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 is the only game involving two teams over .500, and it 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). Bengals-Browns and Dolphins-Patriots are dark horses.

Week 16 (December 21):

  • Tentative game: Seattle @ Arizona
  • Prospects: 3-3 v. 5-1 is starting to look a mite lopsided, but what do you flex it out for?
  • Protected games: Colts-Cowboys (CBS) and Lions-Bears (FOX).
  • Other possible games: Chiefs-Steelers is your best option at 4-3 v. 3-3. Browns-Panthers is a very dark horse.

Week 17 (December 28):

  • Playoff positioning watch begins Week 9.