I was doing some more research into NBC’s Flex Games today, and was trying to figure out which (if any) games that the network would be flexing during the final few weeks of the season. After deciding to keep the Bears at Vikings on December 30th in Week Thirteen, the answer looks to be one. Well, two technically if you count the empty slot in Week Seventeen.
The one game in question would be the Patriots-Seahawks game in Week Fourteen, but the options that NBC has to replace it with aren’t necessarily that much better. FOX naturally protected the Dallas-Pittsburgh game, which leaves only WAS-BAL, ATL-NO and PHI-NYG, as viable options. A switch to the Eagles and Giants would make sense, but the network already aired the two teams’ matchup in Week Ten. Not sure if there’s a rule for airing the same set of teams in a season, but if there isn’t, watch for NBC to make the move.
Week Fifteen is the Giants and Boys, so that’s not going anywhere, and CBS has protected Pittsburgh-Tennessee the following week, so look for the Chargers and Bucs to also stay in primetime during Week Sixteen. That leaves the blank spot during Week Seventeen, and depending on the Titans’ schedule at the time, you can almost bet it’s going to be Tennessee at Indy. If the Titans have one or two losses, and benching starters, we’ll probably be looking at one of the final AFC East matchups (NE-BUF, MIA-NYJ).
Update#1: Here is a little bit more info from our friend Neil Best at Newsday….
“There is nothing to stop the league and NBC from picking that Giants-Eagles game even though they already have shown that matchup, so that game is a very live possibility to be moved, I assume more so if the Eagles win this week.”- WatchDog
Update #2: A commenter, That’s My Story, has provided a list of protected games…
Week 13 – PIT @ NE (CBS), NYG @ WAS (Fox)
SNF: CHI-MIN (announced to stay put)
Week 14 – JAX @ CH (CBS), DAL @ PIT (Fox)
Week 15 – None
SNF – NYG @ DAL (Given to stay put)
Week 16 – PIT @ TN (CBS), PHL @ WAS (Fox)
SNF: SD-TB (Likely to be flexed as NYG-CAR, FOX dropped the ball there because that is a real good game for NBC)
(AA Note: I still think the Chargers and Bucs are staying in that spot, but like someone pointed out in the comments, the Giants-Panthers could be for home-field advantage in the NFC.)
Week 17 – Unprotected
SNF – Open game and anyone’s guess.