Someone asked us this morning whether the NFL and NBC will keep the Vikings-Panthers game in prime time on the evening of December 20.
We didn’t know the answer, so we decided to take a closer look.
With the Vikings-Cardinals game being flexed into prime time this weekend, it probably makes sense to not show Minnesota again, especially with the Panthers slumping at 4-7. The problem, however, is the absence of many attractive alternatives.
Per a non-NBC source with knowledge of the list of protected games, CBS has protected the Bengals-Chargers game and FOX has squatted on Packers-Steelers.
With the Cowboys and Saints playing on Saturday night that week, the Colts and Jags playing on Thursday night, and the big-market Giants going to D.C. on Monday night, the league and NBC will weigh, in our view, four games: Patriots at Bills, 49ers at Eagles, Dolphins at Titans, and Falcons at Jets.
The decision likely depends in large part on the outcome of the current weekend’s games. If the Titans beat the Colts, Tennessee will be expected to beat the Rams next Sunday, and thus the Titans likely will be 7-6 and still alive for a playoff spot in Week 15. If Tennessee loses, San Fran-Philly could be viable, if the 49ers beat the Seahawks and the Cards lose to Minnesota on Sunday.
Pats-Bills and Falcons-Jets would be the fallback options, given New England’s national following and the Jets’ grip on the New York market.
A decision will be made and no later than Tuesday.