NBC’s Sunday Night Football package gives it flexible scheduling. For Weeks 10-15, 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 that 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 written with the 2007 season in mind, hence why it contradicts the above—and the page it comes from, for that matter):
- Begins Sunday of Week 11
- In effect during Weeks 11-17
- 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, and cannot protect any games Week 17. Games were protected after Week 4 the first year of flexible scheduling, but are now protected after Week 5; however, they are back to Week 4 this year, probably for the same reason as that first year: NBC hosting a Christmas night game and the other games being moved to Saturday.
- 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. At this writing, no team is completely tapped out at any measure; five teams have five primetime appearances each, but all of them have at least one game that can be flexed out. A list of all teams’ primetime appearances is in my first two posts for Weeks 4 and 5.
- Last year’s selection of primetime games was weighted rather heavily towards Fox games. This year, the selection currently leans CBS 22, FOX 20 (though if I miscounted one game it may be even). My guess is that the balance will continue to lean towards the AFC. Weeks 10, 12, 13, and 15 are all CBS games, while Weeks 11 and 14 are FOX.
Here are the current tentatively-scheduled games and my predictions:
Week 10 (November 13):
- Selected game: New England @ NY Jets.
Week 11 (November 20):
- Selected game: Philadelphia @ NY Giants.
Week 12 (November 27):
- Selected game: Pittsburgh @ Kansas City.
Week 13 (December 4):
- Selected game: Detroit @ New Orleans.
Week 14 (December 11):
- Selected game: NY Giants @ Dallas.
Week 15 (December 18):
- Selected game: Baltimore @ San Diego. This one was announced substantially later than normal, indeed, later than the 12-day window the rules allow, thanks to CBS actually fighting to keep Pats-Broncos, with Robert Kraft (who’s a landlord for a CBS-owned restaurant) taking their side. Why CBS’s opinions should have any relevance whatsoever when the NFL is supposed to make the decisions to support NBC’s package is beyond me. This is why we have the protection system; CBS doesn’t get to decide after Week 13, “oh, we’d like to keep this game too.” While there are extenuating circumstances here (the NFL moved a normally-CBS Broncos-Vikings game to Fox this past week, and all involved networks are in the midst of contract re-negotiations), this may presage a tweak of the flex schedule rules in the next contract. I fully expected the game to keep its spot anyway once the Chargers won, because it meant the Chargers weren’t so godawful as to overrule the tentative game bias (that’s why Lions-Raiders didn’t get flexed in either), so it also shows how desperate for Tebow NBC is. Everyone looks bad all the way around.
Week 17 (January 1):
|WILD CARD||WAITING IN|
THE WINGS (5-7)
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THE WINGS (5-7)
- Tentative game: None (NBC will show games with guaranteed playoff implications).
- Possible games: Cowboys-Giants, Titans-Texans, Lions-Packers and Ravens-Bengals. The AFC West, AFC East and NFC South just don’t pair up right.