NBC’s Sunday Night Football is now set for back-to-back flexed games. Last week saw the announcement that the Miami Dolphins–Los Angeles Chargers game was flexed in for this coming week, Week 14 (replacing the Denver Broncos–Kansas City Chiefs game). On Monday, the league announced that there will also be a SNF flex the following week, Week 15 (Sunday, Dec. 18), with the Washington Commanders–New York Giants game flexed in in place of the previously-scheduled New England Patriots–Las Vegas Raiders game:
Round 2's under the lights
See ya on Sunday night pic.twitter.com/dYAZrYpkut
— Washington Commanders (@Commanders) December 5, 2022
This move comes a day after the Commanders and Giants played to a 20-20 tie at MetLife Field. (Quarterbacks Daniel Jones and Taylor Heinicke are seen above embracing after that.) That leaves the Commanders at 7-5-1 and the Giants at 7-4-1. At the moment, the Giants would be the NFC’s sixth seed, while the Commanders are the first team on the outside of the playoffs looking in (behind the 7-5 Seattle Seahawks, who have played one fewer game).
Thus, there should be some playoff implications here regardless of what happens in Week 14 (where the Giants face the NFC-leading 11-1 Philadelphia Eagles, and the Commanders have a bye), and that makes this a logical flex to take the place of the 6-6 Patriots (who are still in the postseason hunt, but currently just outside it) and 5-7 Raiders. It should be noted that the NFC East has some of the largest television markets as well, including #1 New York and #9 Washington, D.C.-Hagerstown, making this a more attractive matchup from that perspective for NBC than the Patriots (#10 Boston-Manchester) versus the Raiders (#40 Las Vegas).
This marks the third Sunday Night Football flex so far this season, with Week 11 seeing the Kansas City Chiefs –Los Angeles Chargers game moved to NBC in place of the previously planned Cincinnati Bengals–Pittsburgh Steelers clash. SNF flex scheduling has been around since 2006, and currently operates under the procedures of no flexing before Week 5, a maximum of two flexes before Week 11, and flexes announced at least 12 days in advance (apart from the season’s final week, where six days notice is allowed). After some lobbying and negotiation, ESPN also got flex scheduling for Monday Night Football (12 days notice from Week 12 on) in the latest TV contracts, which begin in 2023. So we may see even more NFL flexing in future seasons.
[Commanders on Twitter; photo from Rich Barnes/USA Today Sports]