The Rams-49ers game originally scheduled for “Sunday Night Football” in Week 7 has been moved to a 4:25 Eastern kickoff on CBS. Despite the fact that Los Angeles has been just as entertaining (and unbeaten) as Kansas City, that contest lost much of its luster when San Francisco quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo went down with a season-ending knee injury in Week 3.
The Chiefs will now play on Sunday night in consecutive weeks, with their game against the Bengals coming seven days after a prime-time game at New England.
This news provides us the perfect jumping-off point to remind everyone about the flex-schedule parameters that have been hammered out between the NFL and its broadcast partners, rules that provide CBS and Fox with a certain amount of protection so that their best games aren’t repeatedly snatched away. (H/t: Morgan Wick.)
- Only games originally scheduled for Sunday afternoon may be moved to Sunday night. Games scheduled for Thursdays (including the Thanksgiving games), Mondays and Saturdays are untouchable.
- The league must give the networks, teams and fans 12 days’ notice of a flexed game except for Week 17, when the required notice is only six days.
- Up to two games may be flexed into Sunday night between Weeks 5 and 10 (leaving the NFL with just one more flex move until Week 11 after Tuesday’s news).
- Starting with Week 11, CBS and Fox can shield one game from flex scheduling in five of the following six weeks. No games can be protected in Week 17.
- Three teams may appear in a prime-time game on ESPN, NBC or NFL Network a maximum of six times — everyone else maxes out at five — and no team may appear on NBC more than four times between Week 1 and Week 16. Those limits do not apply to Week 17.
Here’s the remaining Sunday night schedule:
Week 6: Chiefs at Patriots
Week 7: Bengals at Chiefs
Week 8: Saints at Vikings
Week 9: Packers at Patriots
Week 10: Cowboys at Eagles
Week 11: Steelers at Jaguars
Week 12: Packers at Vikings
Week 13: 49ers at Seahawks
Week 14: Steelers at Raiders
Week 15: Eagles at Rams
Week 16: Chiefs at Seahawks
Week 17: TBD
It’s still pretty early to start making predictions about games that will take place down the line, but that still seems to be a pretty solid slate of Sunday night games. Cowboys-Eagles in Week 10 might not seem great, but Dallas is a reliable draw for the TV networks and the NFL might be loath to make a move. If we have to speculate, look for some movement in Weeks 13 and 14 (49ers-Seahawks, Steelers-Raiders).
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