The NFL has used flexible scheduling for years, sometimes improving Sunday Night Football by taking a big Sunday afternoon game and moving it into prime time. This year, the NFL will expand that, with the possibility of moving a Sunday afternoon game to Monday Night Football.
As the league explained to reporters today, flex scheduling will continue on Sunday nights and has now expanded to Monday nights as well. From Week 12 to Week 17, if the game scheduled for Monday Night Football is not looking like a good matchup, the league has the opportunity to move a Sunday afternoon game into Monday night. The league will make the final decision on flexing Monday night games 12 days in advance.
CBS and Fox will each be able to protect one game every Sunday, so ESPN will never get the best Sunday afternoon game on Monday Night Football. But there’s a possibility that a good game scheduled for Sunday afternoon will get moved to Monday night, and a bad game scheduled for Monday night will get moved to Sunday afternoon.
That’s better for ESPN and better for the fans watching on TV — no one wants to see two teams that are mathematically eliminated from the playoffs in prime time. But many fans who buy tickets don’t like it. If you have tickets for a late-season game, you have to be ready for the possibility that the league will change the kickoff time by more than 24 hours.