It became clear last weekend that there will likely be wildcard berths and/or a division title on the line when the Redskins host the Cowboys in Week 17. Since then, many of us have assumed that game was destined for Sunday Night Football on NBC.
Dallas owner Jerry Jones, though, is apparently unconvinced. He was asked on his weekly appearance on 105.3 The Fan’s New School whether NFL officials have contacted him yet about flexing that game.
“No, they have not,” he said.
Then Jones was asked when he expected to hear from the league.
“I don’t know that you would hear,” Jones said. “Right now it’s scheduled to be played as [scheduled], and I’m doubtful that one will be changed.”
As Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com pointed out, at least one Fox analyst (Troy Aikman) expressed frustration that Cowboys-Giants was flexed into the Week 17 primetime slot last season. But Fox and CBS are not allowed to “protect” any Week 17 games, and while the league consults with the networks, the final decision is made in the NFL offices.
The league attempts to get a virtual playoff game into the Week 17 primetime slot, and a game whose importance could not be diminished by the results of earlier afternoon games. We don’t know for sure, of course, but it seems likely that Dallas-Washington would meet both those criteria. Green Bay-Minnesota and Baltimore-Cincinnati could also qualify.
The league has, in the past, attempted to announce the Week 17 primetime selection early enough for NBC to promote that matchup during its Week 16 broadcast. There’s no Monday Night Football game this week, and the late game — Seattle-San Francisco — is unlikely to have any bearing on the NFC East race. So while the Week 17 primetime decision will be announced by Monday at the latest, I’d expect an announcement by Sunday evening.