Many fans might not realize that the NFL can change the time of any Sunday football game the last seven weeks of the season. This is very important information for season ticket holders, or fans consider purchasing tickets to any of those games in the late part of the season. Anyone considering going to a Sunday NFL game starting the Sunday before Thanksgiving through the end of the season will want to read this article to help them understand how the NFL might change their plans as far as the time of the game goes.
Flexible scheduling stared in 2006, and was a success so the NFL decided to use it in 2007 as well. What this does is allow the NFL to guarentee they will be showing games on Sunday nights that feature teams who are in playoff races or “hot teams” for this season. Flexible scheduling only affects Sunday games though, it does not have any role on Monday Night games. This means that fans could still be doomed to watching meaningless Monday night games as the season ends. It is much easier to switch the logistics for a Sunday time switch though, than for moving a game to Monday night.
In the original NFL schedule there are teams scheduled to play on Sunday night in weeks 11 through 17. These can change though. So, how does this work? Well, the NFL will consult with it’s broadcasting networks it has contracted with to determine if it wishes to switch the Sunday night game for any given week in weeks 11 through 17. Both Fox and CBS have the right to protect one of their games in it’s current time slot so it would not be transferred to the Sunday night game that week. After that though, any game is fair game.
If the NFL decides to change it’s Sunday night game for any week between weeks 11 and 16 it must make the decision no later than 12 days before that game. For week 17, the decision only needs to be made six days in advance. If the NFL moves a different game to the Sunday night slot, then originally scheduled game for Sunday night would be played Sunday afternoon. No Thursday night, Saturday games during the day or night, or Monday night games can be considered for being moved to Sunday night.
Taking a look at the schedule of Sunday night games, there appears only to be two that at the midpoint of the season would warrant serious consideration of replacing. These are the last two Sunday night games of the season. They are Tampa Bay at San Francisco in Week 16 and Kansas City at the New York Jets in Week 17. It is too early to tell if they NFL will move another game into these slots to replace these games, but there is a strong chance that neither of these games would have strong playoff implications. The other Sunday night games in weeks 11 through 15 appear to be prime matchups at this point which do not have a high likelihood of being switched.