Flex Scheduling Bumps Eagles and Vikings to Prime Time for Week 16
The NFL’s Week 16 Sunday night game — an originally scheduled game between the Chargers and Bengals — has been replaced by an NFC match-up between the Eagles and the Vikings. San Diego and Cincinnati has been moved to 4:05 EST, while the Eagles and Vikings will play during the usual Sunday night slot at 8:20 EST.
The NFL instituted flex scheduling in 2006 as a means of featuring more compelling games in its prime time block on Sunday. According to the league, it allows games with playoff implications or games involving surprise teams to be showcased and eliminates featuring games between 2-11 teams that are completely out of the playoff hunt.
Flex scheduling is placed into effect from Week 11 through the remainder of the season, with games scheduled to be played on Thursday, Saturday, or Monday exempt from being moved. Moving the Chargers-Bengals match-up certainly makes sense with the way the Bengals’ season has turned out, but the choice of its replacement is questionable. While there is the obvious draw of Michael Vick — just ask Tashard Choice — the Vikings are all but eliminated from the playoff contention.
On the other hand, the game between the Giants and Packers on Sunday is likely to have significant playoff implications for both sides. Each team is in the mix for a division title or at least one of two NFC Wild Card spots. The only issue I can think of is that the Packers are playing in prime time against the Patriots this weekend and the league would rather not feature the same team in consecutive weeks.
There is no Sunday Night game scheduled for Week 17 yet, but from the look of it the Bears-Packers or Rams-Seahawks games would have the most hinging on them. Yes, believe it or not St. Louis and Seattle are very much in the postseason hunt.
The NFL designed this season’s schedule was designed to feature more intra-division games toward the end of the season, mainly to discourage teams from sitting star players once they have secured a playoff spot. Scheduling more late-season divisional games was also intended to create a greater sense of divisional uncertainty through the conclusion of the regular season.