NFL wisely chooses national platform for Chargers-Steelers game

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With the Garoppolo-less 49ers due to play in prime time once again in Week 13, the NFL knew that it needed to activate the flex option. The only problem? There were no good flex options.

Vikings-Patriots sits in the primary 4:25 p.m. ET slot, a game that presumably had been protected by FOX against a prime-time flexing. Steelers spokesman Burt Lauten previously explained on social media that the Chargers-Steelers game, due to begin at 1:00 p.m. ET on CBS, had been protected against flexing, too.

But no other game merited a national audience in prime time. Ravens-Falcon, Panthers-Bucs, Bears-Giants, Bills-Dolphins, Colts-Jaguars, Browns-Texans, Broncos-Bengals, Rams-Lions, Cardinals-Packers, Chiefs-Raiders, and Jets-Titans were the other choices.

Per a league source with knowledge of the situation, the NFL worked with CBS to remove the protection and move into prime time a game that would have been available, at best, to 25-30 percent of the county. This meshes with one of the reasons for the creation of flexible scheduling: To allow teams to play their way into prime time, and to allow the NFL to bring the best possible matchups to the broadest audience.

It was the right move, without question. Apart from the obvious benefit to NBC and the league via increased ratings for a game between two of the best teams in the NFL, the fans benefit by getting the best available matchups, with Vikings-Patriots also available to a wide swath of the nation in the late afternoon.

The Chargers benefit as well. Instead of kicking off at 10:00 a.m, local time, it will be a 5:20 p.m. PT start.

And while the Steelers have expressed a preference to have fewer night games at home, the problem last year arose from having a cluster of late-season prime-time games in Pittsburgh. This Chargers game will be the third of the year at night in Pittsburgh, but they will have been spread from Week Four to Week 10 to Week 13.

The only other potential night game would come in Week 17, when the Steelers host the Bengals. But that would have to be a game for the AFC North crown, at a minimum, to trigger the flex.

11 responses to “NFL wisely chooses national platform for Chargers-Steelers game

  1. The “Super Bowl” of who gets to get their tails kicked by the Pats in the playoffs. How long can that amazing dynasty continue? I guess as long as Brady and Belichick decide since they own and dominate every team in the AFC.

  2. Patriots dynasty is over guy. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. Actually I’m not sorry but it is over.

  3. Ben, P. Rivers and Eli are all bunched up in the top 10 all time in passing yds, tds and completions and all came out that same year.

    Oddly, they have very little history of playing each other….Eli in the NFC and Philip out west with not a lot of playoff history.

    Be fun to see them in prime.

    I was at Eli’s first start and it was against the Steelers at the old Meadowlands Stadium and it was a great shootout that the Steelers won.

  4. On one hand it’s nice having a west coast team coming to the east coast for an early game on the other hand the Steelers are 12 & 1 in game’s that start after 7 pm.

  5. Should be a good game with the Steelers prevailing. New England couldn’t beat either one of these teams on the road. Not after getting their teeth kicked in by the lions and the titans.

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