All signs point to Sunday night divisional-round game becoming the norm

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It’s not exactly the discovery of plutonium by accident. But Sunday night was an awakening for the NFL.

Ever since the NFL first started staging Saturday night wild-card and divisional-round playoff games, the possibility of shifting the Sunday schedule from 1:05 p.m. ET and 4:40 p.m. ET to 4:40 p.m. ET and 8:20 p.m. ET had been lingering. And then, with a shift of a single early Sunday game to prime-time necessitated by weather issues in Kansas City, the league apparently will be declaring “eureka!” and making the move permanent.

The league had resisted this in the past because it creates a competitive disadvantage where, as in the case of the Steelers, they traveled home late Sunday night and will travel again before Sunday’s game. Meanwhile, the Patriots played at home on Saturday, don’t have to travel at all, and get extra time to prepare, rest, etc. (And no matter what the Steelers have said or will say publicly, they were not happy about the shift in the starting time for Sunday’s game.)

The next question is whether the league will do the same thing on the Sunday night of the wild-card round. The possibility that a team playing on the first Sunday night of the playoffs would have to play on the following Saturday could be a factor, especially since the home game in the divisional round has 13 or 14 days between games.

The overriding factor continues to be (drum roll, please) money, and the NFL will make more of it if games are dropped into prime time on Sunday night. Also, the league will get even greater exposure from games played during windows that will be conducive to more people watching.

Which makes it odd that it took an experiment born of need to get the NFL to realize what had been hiding in plain sight for years.

49 responses to “All signs point to Sunday night divisional-round game becoming the norm

  1. Good, now move the Super Bowl to Saturday night and all will be well with the world….

  2. Oh sure. Make it harder for those on the east coast to watch the games, as usual.
    And, never mind about the advantage it gives to those teams who play on Saturday and will have a day to a day and a half extra to rest before playing one of the teams which has to play on Sunday evening.
    Heck, why not just play these games in Europe and be done with it?

  3. The NFL will do whatever they can to make every last buck, so I’m sure this will happen. It’s a business, I get it. But at the same time, what do their core fans really prefer? One of the unique things about being a fan of the NFL is the social aspect of watching the big game with friends and family. When you have an 8:30 game on a Sunday night it’s a whole different experience. If you have to work the next day it’s a chore to stay up till the end, unless it’s your team playing.

    Play Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons. While you are at it move the Super Bowl to Saturday night.

  4. Why not just do the the 230/630 games like they do for Championship Sunday during the whole playoffs Sat and Sun.

    As far as Pats “getting an extra day” it’s not like they KNEW they were going to play the Steelers, so it doesn’t really matter.

    I think it was him trying to get an “us vs. the world” mentality going, but whatever.

  5. Which make its odd. Indeed, this is what they do, always have, and no sign that they will really learn from this. Bill….Perhaps a new leader at the NFL is needed.

  6. Why aren’t both NFC games one day and both AFC games the other day? For wc weekend and divisional weekend. Wouldn’t that take this problem away.

    Also, how is who plays which day decided? Looking at past years it’s different each year. Whether the both 1’s play Saturday, or the afc 1 plays sat and NFC 1 plays Sunday/vice versa.

    Only thing that remotely would make sense is that’s it’s all about tv money and who’s paying for which time slot. But the NFL would never take money into consideration, so I just don’t understand.

  7. The league was looking for an excuse and they found it. If they went 2:30 and 6:30 eastern would be a decent compromise. I suppose they think this is okay because many have Monday off for MLK day.

  8. Why don’t they do one conference on Saturday and the other on Sunday? Then teams won’t get more than a few extra hours over the next week’s opponent no matter what. Also, if you don’t want to land at 4am after a win, then play better during the regular season to get home field. It’s called an advantage for a reason.

  9. Game was too late on the east coast.

    Oh the horror, we wouldn’t want the NFL to miss 0ut on squeezing every penny they can.

    BTW, what NFL team is changing cities this week?

  10. As an East Coaster, bad idea. I wanted to watch the Steeler-Chiefs. Thought it would be a good game, but couldn’t be bothered to stay up till midnight to do it, so didn’t watch any of it instead.

    But hey, what do I know, I’m just a guy who watches football rather less than I used to because of all the stupid s…tuff that’s been going on lately.

  11. patriot420blog says:
    Jan 16, 2017 7:48 PM
    so pathetic it took them this long and by accident too boot to figure this out… NFL = blind leading the blind

    Next time the NFL does something erratic think to yourself, how does this help the patriots? Then think how does this hurt the team playing the patriots? Then you will know why Goodell makes the decisions he does. Then you will know why Goodell has his own room in Kraft’s house.

  12. Conference playing on the same day is a nice thought, one that costs the NFL money. CBS and Fox would never agree to let the other have a playoff doubleheader.

  13. As long as Joe Buck ain’t involved, I’m good.

    Better still, if they can eliminate the pre game nonsense – or cutbdown the number of people – I’ll be a really happy customer.

  14. It’s not abut the fans of the NFL anymore, it’s about how much money that can be generated for corporate America.

    Don’t you just love all the commercials?

  15. this doesn’t have to be sugared…
    agree with the idea of having then conference games the same day.

    highest seed gets early game…

    but kickoff at 3 and 7;30

  16. Baseball lost young viewers when they went to all primetime playoff and World Series games. Well those young people grew up watching the NFL during Sunday afternoons and fell in love with it leaving MLB in their dust. Greed drove MLB to primetime and it ended up hurting the product. If we know anything at all it’s that greed motivates the NFL at every level. I’m not sayin, just sayin. Lose a generation of fans and they’ll find something else to do.

  17. “so pathetic it took them this long and by accident too boot to figure this out… NFL = blind leading the blind”

    Yeah, that must be why they’re worth billions upon billions of dollars.

  18. Living in the pacific time zone, it never occurred to me what folks on the east coast thought about an 8:00 pm start–until I visited friends back east. Said “goodnight” at halftime. The 3 pm and 6 pm EST start seems like a reasonable compromise. I’m sure the networks have their fingers poked into the process as well. Definitely looking forward to a couple of great games this weekend!

  19. Let me think this over.
    The NFL gets paid by advertisers to show commercials, generating 7 billion dollars annually.
    The advertisers are willing to do this because we love football, so we see their ads.
    Seeing their ads makes us want to buy their stuff, so off we go to buy it.
    Their stuff has to cost whatever it costs plus 7 billion, so that they make money like the NFL.
    So we exist to pay the NFL 7 billion dollars so they can be wealthy hosting football games for our entertainment.
    The they want us to use our tax money to make new stadiums for them.
    I set my alarm at 5 so I can make it to work on time to get my OR and call cases scheduled, and after working all day wonder if people making the big money in entertainment pinch themselves every day and wonder if it’s real and will it last.

  20. Put one conference on Saturdays and the other on Sundays. Boom. Solved. While we are at it, move the Super Bowl to Saturday Night. Biggest party in America and it is always on a work/school night. Never made any sense to me.

  21. How about playing two games (each team gets a home game) and taking the aggregate score to determine who moves on? It could be just like the Champions League in soccer! Play each game in prime time over two weeks! Are you listening Goodell???? If there’s a tie, instead of overtime, fly both teams to London for a neutral field tiebreaker game! That’s the ticket!

    (Sarcasm intended for the yinzers in Western Pennsylvania)

  22. For all of the people whining and crying about the time on the East Coast, you know that you have the option to move to the West Coast. The rest of us are sick of your whining.

  23. How dense do you have to be to believe the game was moved for “fan safety”. The NFL doesn’t care about the safety of their own players, let alone their fans. This was a calculated move to test the Sunday night slot for a big playoff rating. The storm was nothing more than a convenient excuse to move the game.

  24. All you east coast whiners are doing is reinforcing negative stereotypes about east coasters being a bunch of lame whiners.

  25. SouthStander says:
    Jan 16, 2017 11:31 PM
    All you east coast whiners are doing is reinforcing negative stereotypes about east coasters being a bunch of lame whiners.
    I’ll remember that when you left coasters start moaning and groaning about how unfair it is to have to fly across the country and play at 1 eastern time. Having to get up at 10 in the morning on a Sunday to watch your team must be just dreadful.

  26. If you can’t stay up till midnight, then u should be retired. I live on the east coast & have loathed any move to the west coast if it means watching my team @ 10 am

  27. Why does anyone get up early the next day after a night game? Call in sick, geniuses. Plus, unless you were on a serious bender the night before, you should still have five or six beers from the 30 pack you opened at kickoff the night before. Kick back. Enjoy life.

  28. The NFL should think twice IF they to continue their international expansion. The “Sunday” game started at after 2 am Monday Central Europe time, so if that becomes the norm I guess my game pass money will not be worth it. It is fine for the super bowl and on Saturdays, but Sunday before work is out of the question.

  29. Don’t believe it. Everyone was off for MLK Day on Monday this weekend, so staying up to watch a Sunday Night game wasn’t that big a deal. That won’t be the case going forward.

  30. By no means does ‘everyone’ get off for MLK Day or any of the other holidays.
    Next major holiday I suggest you go out and drive around and just look at all the people in stores, theaters, hospitals, long haul trucks, television studios, radio stations, and dozens of other businesses that are still operating on these holidays. Granted many are scaled back compared to a non-holiday. But millions of us go in for our work day no matter what holiday the government, banks, and teacher’s unions decide to take off!

  31. I think the NFL had hit it on the head with the current schedule of Sat afternoon, night and Sunday noon and afternoon. Being a GB fan, I found it a bit ridiculous that they usually put a GB home playoff in a late night game. An earlier scheduled time is a lot more weather conducive for playing outside in GB in January. At least take a look at the game time weather forecast. A late night scheduled game when temps are forecasted to be near or below 0 should be avoided. Not only for fans safety, but for player safety as well.

    Any northern team that plays outside should be scheduled for earlier start times. I understand that sometimes it can’t be avoided but substantial consideration should be given to the weather/temps of the game time forecasts for the host city.

  32. Hey Folks, just be happy the NFL hasn’t moved any of these games, and the upcoming “Big Game”, to North Korea playing the game in the middle of the night. You better believe they are already working with the highest bigger to move the “Big Game” out of the country.

  33. One team is upset that the league has shortened their week by 7 hours. Meanwhile the receiving corps of another is saying it doesn’t affect them when they fly to Miami for a day/night of partying during the week before a major game.. Guess which one is in the Championship game…

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