In a somewhat dramatic move, the NFL has changed the kickoff time of Sunday’s Steelers-Chiefs AFC divisional playoff game from 1:05 p.m. ET to 8:20 p.m. due to storms in the Kansas City area.
“Moving the game from the original 1:05 p.m. ET start time will provide local authorities more time to clear roads in the area as the weather is expected to improve throughout Sunday,” the league said in a statement.
— Brian McCarthy (@NFLprguy) January 13, 2017
The weather.com forecast for Sunday in Kansas City warns of “freezing rain early…mixing with rain in the afternoon. Significant icing likely.”
The NFL doesn’t move around playoff games for just any storm, and this one sounds like a doozy. Presumably the field will be in less-than-pristine condition, with the rain making it difficult to pass, which should affect gameplay pretty dramatically. Hopefully you like 10-7 games.
The big winner in this change (besides the fans who won’t have to drive through freezing rain over icy roads to get to the game) is NBC, which lucks into a primetime game, in a time-slot it already owns during the regular season. Instead of a 1 p.m. ET kickoff when the West Coast is still waking up and the Midwest is at church, the network gets an evening start time that presumably maximizes viewership.
NBC suits must be loving Steelers-Chiefs being switched into primetime. Weather flexing.
— bob raissman (@nydnraiss) January 13, 2017
Will this accident of Mother Nature inspire future Sunday night games in the playoffs? The answer to that could depend on what the ratings report looks like come Monday.