Several years ago, the NFL adjusted the flexing procedures to protect Sunday Night Football against a significant injury that would make a competitive and compelling game not quite as competitive or compelling.
The NFL is invoking those procedures in 12 days.
The league has announced that the Rams-49ers game set for October 20 has been replaced. Bengals-Chiefs will be televised instead that night on NBC.
It makes a lot of sense, given that the 49ers lost quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo for the season. It makes even more sense given that the 49ers were scheduled to play in prime time four times from Week Six through Week 10.
It makes the most sense because the Bengals are 4-1 and the Chiefs are 5-0. Kansas City has a stellar offense with plenty of stars, including an emerging franchise quarterback in Patrick Mahomes.
Ultimately, the change in games will result in much higher ratings for the Sunday night window, and the league wisely is doing whatever it can to boost the ratings of the prime-time windows.
But there’s no guarantee that Rams-49ers would have been a clunker. Last year, they produced a 41-39 prime-time barnburner, with Brian Hoyer at quarterback for San Francisco.
Still, Bengals-Chiefs should be the better game, and it should draw a bigger crowd. It also will place the Chiefs on Sunday Night Football twice in three weeks.