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.