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Week 17 flex comes into focus

adrian-peterson1 Getty Images

When the schedule comes out in April, most of the prime time games look very good on paper.  With the passage of time (and, more accurately, the playing of games), the contests scheduled for high-profile slots suddenly become not as compelling.

Case in point:  Saturday night.  ESPN.  Falcons at Lions.  Meh.

This year’s Sunday night slate on NBC has held up fairly well, with only one flex so far.  This Sunday night, Chargers-Jets has been yanked, with 49ers-Seahawks installed in its place.

For Week 17, all 16 games will be played on Sunday.  None has been penciled in for prime time.  By this Sunday night or Monday morning at the latest, one will.

Though these discussions and decisions occur well above my title and pay grade, the obvious goal for the final game of the regular season becomes identifying one game from the final-week slate that will have playoff implications regardless of the outcome of 15 games played earlier in the day.  Now that the NFL exclusively schedules division games in Week 17, the trend has become a playoff play-in game between two teams in the same division who are vying for the crown.

Last year, it was Cowboys-Giants for the NFC East.  Winner advances, loser goes home.  The year before, Rams-Seahawks in the same scenario for the NFC West title.

This year, the best scenario would be a win-and-in, lose-and-leave game between the Cowboys and Redskins for the NFC East title.  Unfortunately, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones recently threw water on the possibility of a prime-time flex.

“Right now it’s scheduled to be played as played, and I’m doubtful that one will be changed,” Jones said, via the team’s official website.

Technically, every Week 17 game is “scheduled to be played as played” for now.  For one game, that will change significantly.It will be impossible to know which game is the most likely to move until we know which games have playoff implications that don’t hinge on other outcomes.  If all else fails, and if Adrian Peterson is less than, say, 150 yards away from Eric Dickerson’s single-season rushing yardage record, Packers-Vikings could be the best move.Actually, Peterson’s run at history could be more compelling than any of the same-old regular season games with clear postseason implications.

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55 Responses to “Week 17 flex comes into focus”
  1. jets13 says: Dec 20, 2012 11:07 AM

    As someone who rarely gets to see vikings games……i wouldn’t mind watching AP

  2. Vegas Guy says: Dec 20, 2012 11:07 AM

    It SHOULD be Bengals Ravens… this week’s SHOULD have been Bengals Steelers. But, no Bengals gets screwed as usual.

  3. amartland says: Dec 20, 2012 11:10 AM

    Can’t we just flex the Jag’s game to Sunday night so we can all get a good night’s sleep for a change?

  4. daysend564 says: Dec 20, 2012 11:10 AM

    Two NFL franchises able to meet in a loser go home scenario? I think we all know who is going to play in the final game of the season.

  5. suhperbowl says: Dec 20, 2012 11:11 AM

    What if Calvin is, say, less than 150 yards from 2,000?

  6. slvrspec says: Dec 20, 2012 11:11 AM

    Cowboys vs Redskins will get flexed to primetime. Bigger market than the Vikes.

  7. ccjcsr says: Dec 20, 2012 11:14 AM

    Bengals are a team trying to find their identity right now!

  8. seahawks4alltime says: Dec 20, 2012 11:15 AM

    Seahawks vs. the Rams… Oh yeah, they want interesting… Nevermind.

  9. southpaw2k says: Dec 20, 2012 11:16 AM

    The most likely matchups to be flexed are either Cowboys/Redskins or Ravens/Bengals. If somehow the Ravens/Bengals winner decides on the division winner, that game will absolutely be flexed into prime time (though I don’t know if that’s mathematically possible). Texans/Colts could have been a possibility too, but with Indy likely to clinch a spot this weekend and the division already wrapped up, nothing is at stake.

  10. xLith says: Dec 20, 2012 11:17 AM

    If anything they’d get it because they’re playing the Steelers in Pittsburgh. Not because it’s the Bengals though…

  11. 8to80texansblog says: Dec 20, 2012 11:18 AM

    Why does the rushing record hold more weight than the receiving or sacks record… All I hear about is how AD might break the rushing record.

    Calvin Johnson is 181 yds from Jerry Rice’s 1,848 yd receiving record. Aldon Smith and JJ Watt are 3 sacks from Michael Strahan’s 22.5 sack record.

    To be honest… the rushing record, statistically is the least likely to go down. AD averages 129 ypg and needs to average 146.5 over the next two. Conversely CalvinJohnson averages 119 ypg and needs to average only 90.5 to break the record. Both Smith and Watt average 1.39 sacks per game and need to obtain 1.5 per game to match the record.

  12. bayareaplayaz says: Dec 20, 2012 11:18 AM

    Peterson would already have the single season rushing record, if it weren’t for the only defensive juggernaut that has stopped All Day this season called Bill Musgrave.

  13. timcast12 says: Dec 20, 2012 11:19 AM

    Bengals are a boring team to watch

  14. nman087 says: Dec 20, 2012 11:21 AM

    Cowboys or Giants are always in primetime…at least RG3 is gonna be there to ruin the party.

  15. 34inXXIII says: Dec 20, 2012 11:23 AM

    Please put the woe-is-me Bengals fan routine to rest. The Week 17 game should NOT be Bengals-Ravens if there is a winner-in, loser-out scenario guaranteed that week. Bengals-Ravens for the AFC North won’t have quite the same drama with both locked into playoff berths. If the Bengals lose to the Steelers, there’s no guarantee they will even have a playoff berth to play for in their final game.

    Speaking of Bengals-Steelers, while there are certainly very valid reasons for this game to be in prime time since it almost guarantees a playoff spot for the winner, the Bengals aren’t getting screwed. It’s the premiere game for CBS this week. There’s no way they were going to give it up. I believe I also read that they won’t put the same matchup on SNF twice in the same year.

  16. garyman1 says: Dec 20, 2012 11:24 AM

    I think Falcons at Lions will be a great game.

  17. norcalmafia says: Dec 20, 2012 11:25 AM

    Dude sorry but no one around the rest of the country wants to watch the Bengals /Steelers ..Good teams good rivalry but boring football.

  18. jrebar88 says: Dec 20, 2012 11:30 AM

    I would be shocked if its not an nfc east game. i mean it has to be in the cba somewhere that all four of those teams get 5 primetime games every season no matter how horrible they are.

  19. logicalvoicesays says: Dec 20, 2012 11:34 AM

    God’s gonna be watching from the heavens alongside George Allen and Sean Taylor as his favorite team embarrasses the Cowboys on National TV twice in a span of 40 days.

  20. pgh15212 says: Dec 20, 2012 11:35 AM

    Who wants to see the bengals? The pittsburgh pirates have won a playoff game more recently!

  21. claymus1 says: Dec 20, 2012 11:36 AM

    Yeah, Niners- Seahawks will be boring with no playoff implications. Neither team playing well , both ranked poorly, boring offenses, crappy defenses…NOT!! Damn, Vegas guy, you are as big a homer as Seattle fans are!!

  22. kisstherings says: Dec 20, 2012 11:36 AM

    It should definately be Cowboys/Redskins if they both win this week. And I’m a fan of neither team. The win or go home angle basically makes it a playoff game. AP’s record is nice, but hardly compelling must see TV. If Minnesota wins this week and there are also playoff implications in that game, for MN to get in and seeding for Green Bay, then maybe that game should be considered for that angle, but RGIII vs Cowboys is still the best option.

  23. bordner says: Dec 20, 2012 11:39 AM

    I like the idea of moving the Packers/vikings game to Sunday night. One of the top TV draws in the league vs. one of their biggest rivals, who just happens to be doing better than anyone expected this year and has a running back on the cusp of history. The vikes may even still be playing for a playoff spot at that point. It makes sense in many ways.

    I’d hate it if I was actually going to the game and moving the time of it disrupted any travel plans that I had, but since I’ll be watching the game on TV and the next day is basically a holiday… I like it.

  24. watermelon1 says: Dec 20, 2012 11:42 AM

    @vegasguy…

    it COULD have been Bengals/Ravens for Week 17… but when the Steelers lost last week, it gave the Ravens a playoff berth. So that pretty much ruined it.

    The Ravens are horrible this year anyway, and nobody wants to watch that “offense,” especially not the fans of the other 31 teams in the NFL.

    The Bengals are more fun to watch on offense, but they’re still the Bengals right now and still behind a horrible Ravens team in the standings.

    The bottom line is… the Ravens will probably lose this weekend to the Giants, losing any hope of a BYE week. So they will probably use Week 17 as a “bye” week by resting some starters and probably end the season on a 6 game losing streak.

    That might set-up some storybook “turnaround” where they win 1 or even 2 playoff games. Who knows, maybe after making the playoffs all these years and being considered contenders… they finally win it all when they have their weakest team and aren’t expected to do anything.

    Either way, the NFC East Redskins/Cowboys is the right choice for the flex in most circles. I sure wouldn’t mind watching Peterson break the record if no playoff implications can be found.

  25. steviaquinn says: Dec 20, 2012 11:44 AM

    I’m tired of seeing the Cowboys, Eagles, Redskins, Giants ect in these games. All those teams suck – Atlanta swept that entire crappy division easily. The steelers and Ravens suck too. Lets see some new and better teams in these games.

  26. kellij666 says: Dec 20, 2012 11:51 AM

    Can’t we just flex the Jag’s game to Sunday night so we can all get a good night’s sleep for a change?

    I love that idea, good one.

  27. slvrspec says: Dec 20, 2012 11:54 AM

    Steviaquinn – “I’m tired of seeing the Cowboys, Eagles, Redskins, Giants ect in these games. All those teams suck – Atlanta swept that entire crappy division easily. The steelers and Ravens suck too. Lets see some new and better teams in these games.”

    The only team in the NFC East that the Falcons really beat easily was the Giants. The Cowboys and Redskins gave them a tough time.

  28. cusoman says: Dec 20, 2012 11:56 AM

    Vikes/Pack makes the most sense if the Vikings are still in the playoff chase at that point.

    Potential record breaking? Check.
    Playoff implications? Check.
    Heated border rivalry? Check.
    Chance these same 2 teams could play in the playoffs again? Check.

    Makings of an epic football game right there.

  29. mungman69 says: Dec 20, 2012 12:04 PM

    I’m getting tired of watching Jerry Jones’ mug. Don’t let THAT happen to your face.

  30. tvguy22 says: Dec 20, 2012 12:08 PM

    Please don’t flex the Eagles/Giants. I don’t want Andy to be the coach of the team any longer than necessary, even if it’s just a few hours.

  31. jefbob says: Dec 20, 2012 12:10 PM

    I hope it isn’t Bengal/Ravens. I’m going and don’t want to go to a night game. Plus, it’s not even sold out her, so who knows if that’ll effect the decision. That and the two teams opened the season on Monday night against each other, so that might come into play .

  32. geniusesq says: Dec 20, 2012 12:19 PM

    Cowboys Redskins

    Thanksgiving rematch

    For the division

    One of oldest rivalries in NFL

    It’s basically an early playoff game. You definitely flex that.

  33. 8to80texansblog says: Dec 20, 2012 12:28 PM

    Jets at Bills
    Dolphins at Pats
    Panthers at Saints
    Bucs at Falcons
    Pack at Vikes
    Ravens at Bengals
    Browns at Steelers
    Texans at Colts
    Jags at Titans
    Eagle at Giants
    Cowboys at Redskins
    Bears at Lions
    Raiders at Chargers
    Chiefs at Broncos
    Cards at Niners
    Rams at Seahawks

    That’s not a slate of GREAT games… Only 3 games of current playoff teams matching up. Cowboys v Redskins for the NFC East is propbably most compelling. Maybe if the Vikes have a playoff berth on the line and Peterson can crack the record, I might watch that.

  34. jwreck says: Dec 20, 2012 12:44 PM

    slvrspec says: Dec 20, 2012 11:11 AM

    Cowboys vs Redskins will get flexed to primetime. Bigger market than the Vikes.
    ________
    Don’t understand who’s giving this thumbs down. It’s simply a fact. Like it or not, like them or not, the Redskins and the Cowboys are inarguably the two most profitable franchises in the country. That isn’t a knock on Minny, Green Bay, or either team’s fan base, just that market rating-wise and Nielsen-wise, NBC would make more money airing Washington-Dallas than Minnesota-Green Bay.

  35. jwreck says: Dec 20, 2012 12:49 PM

    southpaw2k says: Dec 20, 2012 11:16 AM

    The most likely matchups to be flexed are either Cowboys/Redskins or Ravens/Bengals. If somehow the Ravens/Bengals winner decides on the division winner, that game will absolutely be flexed into prime time (though I don’t know if that’s mathematically possible). Texans/Colts could have been a possibility too, but with Indy likely to clinch a spot this weekend and the division already wrapped up, nothing is at stake.
    _______
    It’s not mathematically possible, and regardless, that game would “absolutely” not get flexed into primetime. The Washington-Dallas game will unqestionably determine who wins the division. Whatever your personal opinion of the Redskins and Cowboys, historic East Coast/Texas rivalry trumps non-historic Rust Belt/Rust Belt rivalry every time. Not trying to offend Cincy or Baltimore fans, but you know it’s true.

  36. flickaboogie says: Dec 20, 2012 1:03 PM

    I’d love to watch the Lions eliminate the Bears from the playoffs.

  37. skolvikes says: Dec 20, 2012 1:08 PM

    Don’t understand who’s giving this thumbs down. It’s simply a fact. Like it or not, like them or not, the Redskins and the Cowboys are inarguably the two most profitable franchises in the country. That isn’t a knock on Minny, Green Bay, or either team’s fan base, just that market rating-wise and Nielsen-wise, NBC would make more money airing Washington-Dallas than Minnesota-Green Bay.
    —————
    Yeah….

    MIN v GB holds the highest rated Monday Night Football game on ESPN in history.

  38. vmannj says: Dec 20, 2012 1:23 PM

    Jags/Titans. Let’s see if JAX’s level of suckage can match the Chiefs for the #1 overall pick.

  39. citizenstrange says: Dec 20, 2012 1:26 PM

    So now I get to watch the Jets vs. Chargers as the early game in Los Angeles instead of the Steelers vs. Bengals. Thanks for NOTHING.

  40. blester01 says: Dec 20, 2012 1:30 PM

    If the Raven lose this weekend, and the Bengals win. They better flex the Ravens/ Bengals matchup, which would decide the AFC Central Champs and be a brutal game – even if both could be one and done in the playoffs.

    The Cowboys are a zombie team and don’t deserve the national spotlight.

  41. ptownstripes says: Dec 20, 2012 1:46 PM

    jwreck says: Dec 20, 2012 12:49 PM

    southpaw2k says: Dec 20, 2012 11:16 AM

    The most likely matchups to be flexed are either Cowboys/Redskins or Ravens/Bengals. If somehow the Ravens/Bengals winner decides on the division winner, that game will absolutely be flexed into prime time (though I don’t know if that’s mathematically possible). Texans/Colts could have been a possibility too, but with Indy likely to clinch a spot this weekend and the division already wrapped up, nothing is at stake.
    _______
    It’s not mathematically possible, and regardless, that game would “absolutely” not get flexed into primetime. The Washington-Dallas game will unqestionably determine who wins the division. Whatever your personal opinion of the Redskins and Cowboys, historic East Coast/Texas rivalry trumps non-historic Rust Belt/Rust Belt rivalry every time. Not trying to offend Cincy or Baltimore fans, but you know it’s true.
    ____________________________________
    How in the heck is it not mathematically possible? If the Bengals in and the Ravens lose this week, they would both be 9-6 going into Week 17 to play each other.

  42. glac1 says: Dec 20, 2012 2:02 PM

    who cares about individual records….. it’s about the team.

  43. jdfrox says: Dec 20, 2012 2:20 PM

    Ravens will win a playoff game. They might be limping into the playoffs (or backing in depending on how you look at it) due to the injuries, but they will beat the Colts in Baltimore.

    Cowboys-Skins will be the game. Historic rivalry, RGIII, Cowboys on a tear. Look out the for Cowboys. They could be the sleeper that gets in late and runs the table. And for the record, I am NOT a Cowboy fan.

  44. wludford says: Dec 20, 2012 3:00 PM

    If Jones doesn’t think the Dallas/Washington game will be flexed (and I’m sure he can influence if it would be) then I’d go with the Vikings / Packers. AP going for the record will draw a national audience.

    Keep in mind guys that while GB/Minnesota are not as big a market as Washington/Dallas, market SHARE for GB/Minnesota games is very high, and with AP going for the record, there may be more national interest outside the local markets.

    The GB/Vikings game that drew the largest MNF audience ever was the return of Favre to GB. Point is, people tune-in to watch a high profile player(s) in compelling situations. Big rivalries don’t draw as well outside the local market.

  45. justintuckrule says: Dec 20, 2012 3:14 PM

    Individual records are nowhere near as compelling as a win and in game. Especially Johnson’s WR yardage record. I mean, who cares. Passing stats are watered down as it is.

  46. steelerfanjo says: Dec 20, 2012 4:16 PM

    Bengals don’t matter and no one wants to see the putrid Ravens and their cast of criminals.

  47. hitdog042 says: Dec 20, 2012 4:36 PM

    The Bengals didn’t get screwed. CBS has the right to pull their national game from Sunday night eligibility. They pulled the Bengals Steelers game under contract rule.

    Geez. I’m a Bengals fan but stop with the conspiracy theories.

  48. addmack24 says: Dec 20, 2012 4:38 PM

    I’m going to predict that the Saints knock the cowgirls out of contention this weekend so forget about Cowboys and Redskins. Even though that may be the best game on.

  49. hitdog042 says: Dec 20, 2012 4:41 PM

    As a bengals fan I hope we don’t get flexed. Our Sunday night history speaks for itself.

    That and I’d rather not get home at 3am again. Haha.

  50. jwreck says: Dec 20, 2012 4:56 PM

    skolvikes says: Dec 20, 2012 1:08 PM

    Don’t understand who’s giving this thumbs down. It’s simply a fact. Like it or not, like them or not, the Redskins and the Cowboys are inarguably the two most profitable franchises in the country. That isn’t a knock on Minny, Green Bay, or either team’s fan base, just that market rating-wise and Nielsen-wise, NBC would make more money airing Washington-Dallas than Minnesota-Green Bay.
    —————
    Yeah….

    MIN v GB holds the highest rated Monday Night Football game on ESPN in history.
    _________
    Brett Favre making a return to Green Bay, playing for a hated division rival is a little different than Christian Ponder playing a team he has never beaten in a game with no likely playoff implications either way. Vikings/Packers is a great rivalry, but with the NFC East title guaranteed to be on the line, NBC is simply much more likely to show “America’s team” versus their newly revitalized historic rivals.

  51. rocketcrab says: Dec 20, 2012 5:08 PM

    jefbob says:
    Dec 20, 2012 12:10 PM
    I hope it isn’t Bengal/Ravens. I’m going and don’t want to go to a night game.
    __________________________________

    I know exactly what you mean. For most fans, or at least those that have to get up for work the next day, I think late games stink. But hey, it’s the NFL!!! It’s all about chasing the big $$$$$$!

  52. vikesfansteve says: Dec 20, 2012 5:56 PM

    Jwreck that game was in MN

  53. notoriusbug says: Dec 20, 2012 8:22 PM

    “Why does the rushing record hold more weight than the receiving or sacks record… All I hear about is how AD might break the rushing record.

    Calvin Johnson is 181 yds from Jerry Rice’s 1,848 yd receiving record. Aldon Smith and JJ Watt are 3 sacks from Michael Strahan’s 22.5 sack record.

    To be honest… the rushing record, statistically is the least likely to go down. AD averages 129 ypg and needs to average 146.5 over the next two. Conversely CalvinJohnson averages 119 ypg and needs to average only 90.5 to break the record. Both Smith and Watt average 1.39 sacks per game and need to obtain 1.5 per game to match the record.”
    ———————————————————
    The rushing record is like McGwire-Sosa chasing the home run record in 1998 (exciting); the sacks record is like K-Rod chasing the saves record in 2008 (boring)…

  54. rg3andthensome says: Dec 20, 2012 8:55 PM

    Serious Question: Who actually decides this? I believe that it is in the best interest of ALL Owners to get flexed to 8 PM on NBC….Why would Jones not want this?
    I believe because he feels that time slot is an advantage to the Skins, he knows RG3 shows up for the spotlight and that he does not want the world to see his over rated team lose on the national stage.

    Let the SKINS EXPOSE THEM!!! GAME OF THE YEAR potential!

  55. namaths5thofwhiskey says: Dec 20, 2012 9:54 PM

    As a Jet fan I am thankful I dont have to watch my poor excuse of an offense try to put up points in primetime.

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