Justin Fields Chicago Bears flex Oct 15, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker D.J. Wonnum (98) sacks Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields (1) during the first half at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports

After the first five weeks of the NFL season, the league can flex games out of primetime and insert better games into the evening windows. No games were flexed in Week 6 or Week 7, but two weeks out from Week 8, we might be looking at our first flex of the season.

As a reminder, the NFL can flex games into and out of NBC’s Sunday Night Football window twice from Weeks 5-10 and as many times as it wants from Weeks 11-17. New this season, Monday Night Football games can be flexed from Weeks 12-17 and a total of two Thursday Night Football games can be flexed from Weeks 13-17.

The first lemon on the Sunday Night Football schedule comes in Week 8. The 1-5 Chicago Bears are scheduled to visit the 2-2 Los Angeles Chargers in primetime on NBC. The Chargers, who play the Cowboys in several hours as of this writing and play the Chiefs in Week 7, could be 2-4 going into that game. The Bears host the Raiders in Week 7 and will likely be without quarterback Justin Fields for that game and maybe for the Week 8 game with the Chargers as well.

In the spring, we earmarked this game as one that could get flexed.

This game airing in primetime would be incredibly disappointing. At best, it’ll pit a last-place two-win team against a four-win second-place team. While it might not be the worst or most one-sided game on the Week 8 slate, it’s definitely not worthy of airing in primetime.

Even taking network protections into account, there are better games to flex into Sunday Night Football in Week 8. In its single header, Fox has Rams-Cowboys (which, let’s be honest, you’d need to pry from the network’s cold, dead hands), Eagles-Commanders, and Browns-Seahawks, which are both all compelling and better matchups than Bears-Chargers (even if Deshaun Watson is still out for Cleveland). CBS airs seven games across its doubleheader, but with Bengals-49ers locked into the national game of the week slot, Jaguars-Steelers is probably the only game that would realistically be flexed into Sunday night.

The good news is that after Week 8, we probably won’t have to have the flex discussion again until mid-November. Bills-Bengals in Week 9 isn’t going anywhere, and Jets-Raiders in Week 10 is probably safe as well with both teams playing competently enough. But barring a reversal of fortunes, Week 11’s Vikings-Broncos matchup looks like a game ripe for a flexing.

As for Monday Night Football and Thursday Night Football, MNF’s Bears-Vikings matchup in Week 12 might be a good flex candidate, while Chargers-Raiders (Week 15), Saints-Rams (Week 16), and Jets-Browns (Week 17) are all still in wait-and-see mode for TNF.

About Joe Lucia

I hate your favorite team. I also sort of hate most of my favorite teams.