Cowboys/Redskins An Early Favorite For "Sunday Night Football" In Week 17 (Update: It's Official)

The rematch of Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins’ Thanksgiving Day victory over the Dallas Cowboys in Week 17 could be flexed into primetime on NBC. It would be the second straight year that an NFC East showdown in the final week of the regular season would be rescheduled to “Sunday Night Football.”

It’s hard to believe just two more weeks of the NFL regular season remain.

And that means we draw ever closer to the inevitable – okay, besides going to the mall to return that unwanted sweater you got for Christmas. Week 17, which for the third season in a row under Commissioner Roger Goodell, will consist entirely of matchups between division rivals – with the one possessing the greatest impact on the playoff picture being flexed into primetime on NBC’s “Sunday Night Football.” In Week 17 in 2010, the Seattle Seahawks defeated the St. Louis Rams, and in the final week of the regular season last year, the New York Giants eliminated the Dallas Cowboys; both of these teams would win subsequent playoff games televised on NBC (the Seahawks in the Wild Card round, and the Giants in Super Bowl XLVI).

The divisions represented by these teams have a great shot at making their second appearance on “SNF” in Week 17 under the new format.

First, let’s eliminate the divisions where the leaders are so far ahead, it should not make much of a difference what they do in Week 17: AFC East (New England Patriots); AFC South (Houston Texans); AFC West (Denver Broncos); and NFC South (New Orleans Saints).

True, a first-round playoff bye may be on the line between the Patriots, Texans and Broncos, but consider this: the Patriots are hosting the Miami Dolphins, and they’ve been so dominant at home in primetime, and in primetime in general this season (need we remind you what they did in New Jersey on Thanksgiving night?) that the chances of the game being out of reach early are high. Also, the Texans hosted the Indianapolis Colts today for what will be a home-and-home over a 15-day period, and had the Colts upset the Texans in Houston, the Week 17 rematch might have been a shoo-in for primetime, but the Texans win pretty much puts a cushion betweem the two teams; of course, if the Colts find themselves in a “win and you’re in” scenario, it’s still possible that Andrew Luck might bring the Colts back to “SNF” for the first time in the post-Peyton Manning era. And as for Manning’s current team, the Broncos, well, they’re playing the Kansas City Chiefs, who are not only execrable this season, but are 0-3 on NBC in the Fred Gaudelli era. Nuff said.

The NFC North also appears to be all but conquered by the Green Bay Packers, but the team they face in Week 17 is the Minnesota Vikings – a team that’s nipping at the Packers’ heels in the division, and has a running back in Adrian Peterson who’s on pace to break Eric Dickerson’s single-season rushing record of 2,105 yards, and he needs just shy of 300 yards in two games to do it. But the Vikings’ next opponent, the Houston Texans, has a stingy run defense, so it’s too soon to determine what happens with the Packers/Vikings game until Peterson plays another sixty minutes. Remember, the league reconfigured the Week 17 Sunday night game to feature teams that are playing a game that will essentially name the winner of that division. Of course, when given the choice between watching a dynamic athlete break a record that has stood for nearly three decades, or a Rams/Seahawks game, I think the answer is easy. So based on the potential of history being made, with one of the biggest names in the game, I wouldn’t rule this one out yet, even if the Packers have long clinched the NFC North. Stay tuned.

So, we’re down to three divisions, and we’ll start with the AFC North. You have the Pittsburgh Steelers, who have made the fifth-most appearances on NBC since 2006 with fifteen, hosting the Cleveland Browns, and you have the Cincinnati Bengals hosting the Baltimore Ravens, who have won six out of their nine appearances on NBC’s air. By the way, since 2006, Ohio has been 0-for-6 on NBC, including five Bengals games, two of them in the postseason. Realizing the Bengals’ dubious record on NBC, coupled with their penchant for having games blacked out due to low ticket sales, plus add to the mix the fact that they’re hosting the Ravens, who have abruptly switched offensive coordinators and have already lost their first game under their new one, the prospect of putting that game in primetime probably isn’t making the league and NBC suits’ mouths water. Nor is the possibility of a Steelers team playing the cellar-dwelling Browns. So in my view, you won’t be seeing the Steelers make their fourth “SNF” appearance of the season, nor a Ravens trifecta on NBC this year. But as always, I could be wrong.

Anyway, that leaves two divisions in the NFC where the top spot is up for grabs. First, the NFC West situation: the San Francisco 49ers and the Seattle Seahawks are fighting for first place. But keep in mind that the 49ers will be playing two Sunday night games in a row, including one that’s been flexed into primetime in Week 16 – and that game is in Seattle. Fast forward to Week 17, and you’ve got the Seahawks hosting the Rams, and the 49ers hosting the Cardinals. Given how bad the Cardinals have been since October (oh, they beat the Lions by four touchdowns after losing by nearly sixty points the previous week – big whoop), you can count out the latter matchup, and the possibility of a team appearing on “SNF” for three consecutive weeks. Which means that for the second time in three weeks, a Rams/Seahawks game in Seattle in Week 17 could be moved into primetime. The Rams, despite being a shade under .500, are amazingly undefeated (4-0-1) against opponents in the division. The Seahawks, meanwhile, are undefeated at home, and depending on how the 49ers fare in Centurylink Field on “SNF” in Week 16, the NFC West division may as well be decided in primetime that week.

And that leaves the NFC East, a division where three out of its four teams have made the most appearances on NBC since 2006 – most recently a matchup between two teams both under .500, the Philadelphia Eagles and the Dallas Cowboys. In Week 17, both of these teams will be on the road: the Eagles at the New York Giants, and the Cowboys at the Washington Redskins. This division is literally a three-team race going down the stretch, but only one thing matters: the RG3 factor. Robert Griffin III is having an outstanding rookie campaign – yet he only has one primetime game to show for it (in Week 13 vs. the Giants on “Monday Night Football” on ESPN). Of course, there was the game on Thanksgiving Day that gave Griffin his first national exposure – in Jerry World, a game in which he led the Redskins to four touchdowns in the first half.

The Redskins, 2-0 in these games, currently share a lead in the NFC East. The Cowboys, well, they haven’t made the most appearances on “Sunday Night Football” for nothing (the Eagles/Cowboys tilt back in Week 13 was their twenty-first).

Regardless of the results of the Week 16 games between the Giants and the Ravens, the Cowboys and the Saints, and the Eagles and the Redskins, I am confident that the Cowboys/Redskins rematch in Week 17 will be flexed into primetime.

An equation of “America’s Team” and RG3 (provided he’s healthy) with the division on the line adds up to an enticing matchup.

So if you’re going to that game on December 30, I’d reschedule my plans for that evening if I were you.

UPDATE, 12.18.12: WIP Radio in Philadelphia reported today that the Cowboys/Redskins game on December 30 has been moved to a start time of… 4:25 PM. There’s nothing to back this up, I was just going by what I heard on the radio. Halfway to primetime. But it’s still a candidate to be moved to “Sunday Night Football”: based on how teams with their own playoff implications on the line perform in Week 16, the league will obviously move a game with “win or go home” potential into primetime. Or if the NFC East, NFC West and AFC North are suddenly all decided, and Adrian Peterson runs for over 150 yards against the Texans, the Vikings’ (regular?) season finale against the Packers could see itself being moved to NBC, as I speculated earlier – but of course, that’s a huge longshot as long as the NFC East, at the very least, has not been decided by Christmas.

So the Cowboys/Redskins game won’t be starting at 1 PM. That much, I was right about. And now the NFL is delaying the inevitable – which, by the way, will officially be announced on Monday.

UPDATE, 12.23.12, 11:39 PM ET: And now, it’s official: With the Redskins winning and the Cowboys and Giants losing, the rematch between the Redskins and the Cowboys in Week 17 will, as projected, be flexed into Sunday night on NBC. The news was announced during the Week 16 presentation of “Sunday Night Football.” This will be the first time since Week 7 in 2010 that the Redskins were featured on “Sunday Night Football.” Since that matchup with the Colts, there have been fifteen games on NBC (sixteen if you count the Super Bowl) in which there was at least one NFC East team – eight of them games between two NFC East teams. So it’s safe to say the Redskins are long overdue.

NBC Fires Norv Turner, Again: Chargers/Jets Flexed Out Of "Sunday Night Football"

NBC is flexing out the San Diego Chargers/New York Jets’ Week 16 game out of primetime in favor of a San Francisco 49ers/Seattle Seahawks matchup. It’s the third time in five seasons that a Sunday night game involving the Chargers was flexed out of primetime.

In just the second time in the last three years, NBC has waited until the latest possible time to exchange a previously scheduled game on “Sunday Night Football” for a more competitive one.

And in both of these instances, it’s the San Diego Chargers that end up getting burned.

They’re used to this, though.

On Monday, the NFL announced that the Chargers’ Week 16 road contest with the New York Jets on December 23 will be flexed out of primetime, with NBC opting for a divisional tilt between the San Francisco 49ers and the Seattle Seahawks. As a result, the Chargers/Jets game is jettisoned to CBS with a 1 PM (ET) start time, while a New York Giants/Baltimore Ravens game that had been scheduled for 1 PM on that day will shift to 4:25 PM, replacing 49ers/Seahawks as “America’s Game Of The Week” on that day.

With Fox protecting three consecutive Giants broadcasts this month, I’m sure Joe Buck wouldn’t want it any other way.

Sure, the Jets and Chargers both won their recent games, both on the road – but after realizing that an Arizona Cardinals defense that allowed nearly 60 points to the Seahawks had allowed just a single touchdown to the Jets the previous week – and mind you, not even to a quarterback named Sanchez or Tebow – NBC decided it would be in the best interest of America to not show the Chargers/Jets game in Week 16, a game that pits a lame-duck head coach with an all-around lame team.

There had been speculation that NBC would flex out the Chargers/Jets game as early as WFAN’s “Boomer and Carton” morning show. Co-host Craig Carton argued that with the Jets being embarrassed on Thanksgiving night by the New England Patriots, they don’t deserve any further national television exposure. (By the way, the Jets’ next game in Week 15 will be in primetime, on the road against the Tennessee Titans.)

And so, these two teams will, as The Big Lead points out, play a 1 PM game in New Jersey for the second consecutive year (the Jets won that Week 7 game, 27-21).

This will be the first and only time this year that a scheduled NBC game will be discarded back to a regional affair. Of course, there will be a final “Sunday Night Football” broadcast in Week 17, with the teams to be determined based on playoff implications stemming from the scheduled games that week, which will all be played on December 30.

The last time NBC waited as long as possible for flexing out a regularly scheduled game was in 2010, also in Week 16, with the Chargers/Bengals game fed back to CBS in favor of a Minnesota Vikings/Philadelphia Eagles game, one that would be played on the night of Tuesday, December 28, 2010, due to severe weather conditions in Philadelphia (incidentally, the Vikings’ own home stadium would be impacted by heavy snow that year, as well).

NBC also made one flex move last year in Week 13, and once again, it was an AFC/NFC tradeoff, with a Colts/Patriots contest (remember, this is the year Peyton Manning missed the entire season) switched for a Detroit Lions/New Orleans Saints matchup. As a reuslt of this arrangement, it actually sent a Denver Broncos road game in Minnesota from CBS to Fox (you may recall this was back in the thick of Tebowmania, when one Tim Tebow was playing for Denver).

With the Week 16 (2012) flex move, this means the 49ers will now have to play two back-to-back Sunday night games, and both of them on the road, as they travel to Foxboro to play the Patriots in Week 15 on NBC before proceeding to the Pacific Northwest the following week. This actually is not the first time a team was in such a position due to flex scheduling: In Week 16 of the 2007 season, the Washington Redskins’ road contest with the Vikings was flexed into primetime in lieu of a 49ers home game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers; the Redskins would also play the New York Giants in what used to be The Meadowlands the preceding week.

Speaking of the Patriots, the Chargers now join them as having been involved in the most games flexed out of primetime. A Chargers/Buccaneers game in Week 16 of the 2008 season also flexed out for a Carolina Panthers/New York Giants tilt – which put the Giants on “SNF” for two weeks in a row (they played in Dallas the previous week).

So there will be at least one previously scheduled primetime game on NBC flexed into an earlier window for the sixth year in a row, including only one game for four consecutive years. In the “SNF” debut season of 2006, in which flex scheduling was first eligible, no games were flexed at all.

If you’re keeping score at home, that’s nine games flexed out of Sunday night in a six-year span – with the Chargers making up for one-third of those games (as well as the Patriots).

Of course, there could have been two games flexed this season: they chose to keep a Philadelphia Eagles/Dallas Cowboys contest in primetime, despite their losing records coming into the game.

The San Diego Chargers and New York Jets, with their losing records? Not so much.

Regional Roundup: NFL Week 17

All the Skittles in the world couldn't save Marshawn Lynch and the Seattle Seahawks from falling out of playoff contention, and that, combined with Cowboys/Giants being flexed to primetime, gives FOX a "single game" aura on Week 17.

It’s the final week of the regular season – and thus, the final opportunity to bring you a rundown of who will be calling what games on the last day of the 2011 NFL regular season – which actually falls on the first day of 2012. Go figure.

Week 17 is traditionally a gung-ho week in that both CBS and FOX have double-headers – save for the markets whose teams will be hosting a game, of course.

EARLY GAMES

CBS: With the NFL flexing many games possessing playoff implications into the late game window, it’s no coincidence that many of the games ending up (or staying) in the early game window don’t really have that much appeal – or they’ve lost a lot of the appeal that they might have had at least a month ago. Case in point: The New York Jets are now a longshot to make the playoffs after losing two straight games that they had a considerable chance of winning. Still, CBS is sending Greg Gumbel and Dan Dierdorf to cover the Jets’ likely season finale in Miami, in a game that will be seen in roughly three quarters of the country. With the Texans clinching the AFC South division long ago, their game with the Titans is meaningless, but in a good way. Bill Macatee and Steve Tasker will call this game, which will be seen in the entire state of Texas; the entire state of Tennessee; and for some reason, Seattle, as well. Two of the reasons that the Texans were able to lock up the AFC South – the 4-11 Jaguars and the 2-13 Colts – will square off in Jacksonville; Spero Dedes and the venerable Steve Beuerlein will be handling this one; only the entire state of Indiana will see it, as well as Jacksonville. (Yes, they actually sold out another game!) And had Buffalo not lost seven straight games, perhaps their matchup with New England would have been flexed out to a later window – heck, maybe Gumbel and Dierdorf would have called it. Instead, CBS’ D-team of Don Criqui and Randy Cross will call this game, which will be seen in Atlanta, Oklahoma City and Portland, OR, in addition to the usual Northeast territories.

FOX: I suppose my previous statement about the early games in Week 17 not having enough spunk goes out the window with the announcement that FOX’s A-team, Joe Buck and Troy Aikman, will be in New Orleans for the Panthers/Saints game. But they’ll possibly be witnessing some more history, as Drew Brees, one week (okay, six days since he last played on Monday Night Football) removed from breaking Dan Marino’s single-season passing yardage record, looks to build on that record – but it’s contingent on whether or not it will be a close game; figure if it’s a blowout on either side, Brees will be benched in preparation for the playoff run ahead. Though New Orleans could grab a first-round bye by the end of the day, so maybe Brees plays from start to finish. We’ll see – and if you’re in the bottom half of the country, or in the Northeast, chances are you will. Regardless, I’m sure Joe and Troy would rather be in East Rutherford to call the Cowboys/Giants game that will decide the winner of the NFC East, with the loser going home; alas, that was immediately flexed out to Sunday night to NBC, no sooner than a combination of the Giants beating the Jets, and Tim Tebow throwing multiple interceptions, took place. By the way, if you’re on the Eastern seaboard, you won’t be able to watch Panthers/Saints – you’ll be stuck watching the Redskins/Eagles game (aka the anti-NFC East championship game) being called by FOX’s F-team of Ron Pitts and Charles Davis; regardless of who wins this one, both teams will be going home. Meanwhile, in Minneapolis, where a strong Metrodome roof is a welcome sight these days, the Vikings host the Chicago Bears in what will be the season finale for both of these teams, as well; Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston and Tony Siragusa will handle this one. Thom Brenneman and Brian Billick will be at Lambeau Field for the only game in the early window in which both teams could still be playing later in the month. We know the Packers have locked up everything but the kitchen sink; with that said, the Lions could be expecting a tame Packers team (pardon the pun) which could ease Detroit into the playoffs. And with the Lions actually being favored in this game, being played in Green Bay, even the Cowardly Lion thinks this Lions team has all the courage in the world to get a win. Finally, the 49ers visit St. Louis is what will likely be the final game for at least some major Rams personnel – the head coach and general manager have been rumored to be sent packing at season’s end – and Chris Myers and Tim Ryan will have the call.

LATE GAMES

CBS: Perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself in anticipation of a future column subject, but have you noticed that ever since CBS won that wrestling match with NBC over who would air the Patriots/Broncos tilt, Denver has lost two straight games? And is it a coincidence that both of those games were called by The Eye Network’s top-tier booth of Jim Nantz and Phil Simms? Well, it just so happens that the duo will once again be calling a game in which the Broncos are involved, for a third straight week. Will it be three in a row in the “L” column, as well? We’ll find out, as the Chiefs, led by Kyle Orton – who, you may recall, had started the season with the Broncos – head to Sports Authority Field at Mile High to take on Tim Tebow and his crew. At the moment, Denver leads the AFC West, but a loss here, and it could possibly go to the Oakland Raiders – who are playing at the exact same time, against the San Diego Chargers, in a game that will be called by the legendary Marv Albert, and former Raiders quarterback Rich Gannon. Figure that all but one team will be looking at the scoreboard – the Chargers will probably be looking at the clock on the scoreboard, because they can’t wait to get rid of Norv Turner and A.J. Smith. Also, the Cincinnati Bengals, who were able to successfully sell out a home game with a rare “two-for-the-price-of-one” ticket promotion – as long as it isn’t “ten-cent beer night,” right? – could successfully secure a wild card spot against the team that has all but secured a wild card spot themselves, the Baltimore Ravens. Both the Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers are tied atop the AFC North at 11-4 and are guaranteed playoff berths. And there’s a good chance that both of them will finish the afternoon at 12-4, because the Steelers will be playing the 4-11 Browns. By the way, Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts will be calling Ravens/Bengals, while Kevin Harlan and Solomon Wilcots have Steelers/Browns. (Can’t forget the announcers; they’re the reason these posts were written in the first place!)

FOX: It might be a double-header week for both FOX and CBS, but it probably feels like FOX has the single game deal this week, what with one of the NFC games being shifted to primetime on NBC, and most of the games being played in the early game window. (Am I the only one who noticed how all eight AFC matchups on CBS were evenly divided between the two windows?) How bad is FOX’s Week 17 late game window? Only one of the teams in these two games – the Atlanta Falcons – even has a sniff of making the postseason. And considering they’re just off of a 29-point loss to the Saints, and their opponent is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who are on what appears to be a 29-game losing streak, in any language, this could get ugly. And Dick Stockton and former Buccaneer John Lynch will call all the action – or lack thereof (sorry, Mr. Lynch). The other FOX late game sees Seattle – which had playoff implications up until last week – travel to Arizona; Sam Rosen and Chad Pennington will call that mess.

May you have a happy and healthy New Year. Thanks for reading!

Information from the506.com was used in this post.

NFL Week 15 Regional Roundup: Can't Watch Brady Vs. Tebow? It Gets Better: New NFL Flex Scheduling Details

In conjunction with a rundown of the regional NFL games airing on CBS and FOX in Week 15, I have somewhat of a follow-up to my post on Wednesday in light of the NFL’s new deal with the TV networks, now set to last an entire decade, and then some.

It also goes back to the hysteria from last week resulting from CBS keeping hold of this week’s Broncos/Patriots game, preventing NBC from flexing it into “Sunday Night Football” (which I still theorize was the first domino that fell and resulted in said new NFL TV deal). Instead of Tom Brady’s bout with Tim Tebow reaching the entire country via NBC, it will be seen in roughly four-fifths of the country, with some major markets, including New York and Philadelphia, missing out on what has arguably been the most anticipated regular-season game not involving a team with a perfect record.

It is likely because of this that the NFL has decided to enhance their flex scheduling capabilities – drastically.

This was included in the press release from the NFL earlier this week, but I admit I didn’t pay close enough attention to this detail. Luckily, someone else did. As I first learned via Matt Yoder at AwfulAnnouncing.com, CBS and FOX, as part of the new deal, effective 2014, will enjoy the same flex scheduling privileges as NBC. That includes the possibility of seeing an NFC matchup that you would normally see on FOX, on CBS (and likewise with an AFC game on FOX). This will be done to ensure that the most people across the country will be able to see the most interesting games – in addition to the primetime window on NBC. We kinda saw a preview of this in Week 13, when the NFL affixed the Broncos/Vikings game originally assigned to CBS (an AFC road game in NFC territory) to FOX after NBC grabbed FOX’s Lions/Saints game for primetime that same week. But come 2014, you could very well see Lions/Saints, provided both teams are competitive and NBC’s got an even more compelling matchup that night, on CBS.

As Yoder observes: “This doesn’t create complete and total chaos for which networks televise which games.” Which we also kinda saw a preview of last week as CBS and NBC fought to the death for The Chosen One vs. The Man In Uggs.

And with that, I present to you a summary of who will be calling the regional NFL games in Week 15. For the second week in a row, CBS has the double header.

Early Games

CBS: If it wasn’t for the Indianapolis Colts’ 0-13 record, Greg Gumbel and Dan Dierdorf would probably be at Lucas Oil Field this week. Instead, they’re in St. Louis, where the 2-11 Rams will host the 7-6 Cincinnati Bengals, in a game that will be seen in about 75% of the country. Meanwhile, Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts will be in Indianapolis, where the winless Colts will play the Tennessee Titans. (Footnote: The Fort Wayne CBS station will be carrying this game; the last Colts home game was actually passed up by the FOX affiliate in Fort Wayne in favor of a Bears/Raiders game; of course, the Panthers would defeat the Colts that week. Incidentally, the FOX station is airing this week’s Bears contest, as well.) And Kevin Harlan and Solomon Wilcots will call the Dolphins and Bills in a game that has reportedly been blacked out in Buffalo; it’ll be the first Dolphins game since Miami fired head coach Tony Sparano.

FOX: Joe Buck and Troy Aikman will be in their familiar posts at MetLife Stadium as the Giants host the Redskins. It’s not just a coincidence that they happen to call many Giants games, is it? In all fairness, though, the duo probably may have been calling the Packers game had they been facing a different opponent. Instead, the World Champion Green Bay Packers will take their undefeated record to Kansas City, where interim head coach Romeo Crennel, like the Packers, has no losses on the season (yet). Packers/Chiefs will be seen in more areas than Redskins/Giants… whatever… They’ll probably flip over to Bengals/Rams after the Packers start pulling away… Dick Stockton and John Lynch will call Saints/Vikings in Minnesota, while Chris Myers and Tim Ryan soldier onto Soldier Field for Seahawks/Bears. Finally, the Houston Texans, whose head coach is on temporary leave after a surgical procedure, hosts the Carolina Panthers, in a game that will be called by Ron Pitts and Charles Davis.

Late Games

CBS: The most anticipated matchup of the week… Jets/Eagles! (Or at least CBS thought so about two months ago.) Of course, I speak of Patriots/Broncos, which will fittingly be called by the network’s number one team of Jim Nantz and Phil Simms. And after all of the lengths that CBS went to in order to keep NBC from getting that game, Jim and Phil better have been supplanted in Denver for that game! Though I would have also would have appreciated it if Marv Albert called that game. As fate would have it, while Tom Brady is duking it out with Tim Tebow, Marv will be with Rich Gannon as Michael Vick squares off against Mark Sanchez in Philadelphia. And the Browns travel to Arizona, as do Bill Macatee and Steve Tasker, in a game that will only be shown in, in addition to the entire state of Arizona, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Toledo and Youngstown, Ohio. By comparison, Jets/Eagles will be shown in Salisbury, MD; most of the state of Pennsylvania (KDKA in Pittsburgh will be showing Patriots/Broncos); and the entire state of New York, until WROC in Rochester opted for Patriots/Broncos (lucky them). By the way, Patriots/Broncos will not be shown in San Francisco due to…

FOX: The lone game in Fox’s late afternoon window sees the Detriot Lions traveling to Oakland to take on the Raiders; Thom Brenneman and Brian Billick – whose partner on NFL Network’s “The Coaches Show,” Jim Mora Jr., recently accepted a job offer at UCLA – will call all the action live from “the black hole”. It appears that this game will be seen in all of California, with the exception of Los Angeles, where the Fox owned-and-operated station has opted for the Redskins/Giants early game. The remaining cities the game will be shown in are mostly by virtue of their own team being involved in a game earlier in the day (Miami, St. Louis, Nashville, Indianapolis).

Information from the506.com was used in this post.

By Winning Tebow Tug-Of-War With NBC, CBS Actually Loses

After several meetings with the NFL between CBS and NBC on Wednesday regarding which network should be granted the right to air the Broncos/Patriots game in Week 15 – NBC wanted to flex out its “Sunday Night Football” matchup for that week in favor of Tom Brady and company vs. Tim Tebow and his football disciples, while CBS flexed its muscle against NBC’s flex move – NBC reportedly gave up and allowed CBS to carry the game as originally scheduled on December 18, at 4:15 PM ET.

I hope CBS is satisfied with themselves. True, they had every right to fight tooth and nail to keep the game on their air, which they did successfully. But by not having the best interest of all football fans in mind – or at least foremost, before your finances – they have now denied viewers in some parts of the country the right to see the Broncos/Patriots game.

That’s because scheduled at the same time are two other games that are currently scheduled to be carried by CBS in that window: the Browns’ road contest at the Cardinals, and the Jets’ visit to Philadelphia, the game that CBS originally had protected when prompted by the league back in Week 5.

Naturally, Week 5 was around the time Tim Tebow was named the starting quarterback of the Denver Broncos.

So who wouldn’t blame CBS for expecting Tebowmania to take off so soon. Who wouldn’t blame CBS for thinking that the Jets wouldn’t underachieve down the stretch like they have, or that the Eagles would indeed fail to play like the “Dream Team” that they had set out to be. (Losses to the Seahawks and the aforementioned Cardinals? Please.)

Who wouldn’t blame CBS for not realizing that football is a sport where on any given Sunday, any team – regardless of their record, the Vegas odds or what the talking heads prognosticate on the pregame shows – can beat any other team.

Give me a break.

While broadcast networks are competitive by nature, CBS, NBC and Fox should be considered brothers in arms by way of their lucrative deal with the NFL. This was CBS’ one chance to be a team player and allow NBC to air the game. Instead, they committed a huge touchback on their part.

Was there no compensation that CBS would accept in exchange for letting NBC air what is expected to be a ratings bonanza? Maybe even – I don’t know – get one of the Broncos games involving an NFC team from Fox, just as the NFL stepped in and took last week’s Broncos/Vikings game from CBS and moved it to Fox, as a result of Fox losing Lions/Saints to NBC?

As luck would have it, there’s one scheduled for this very weekend – Bears/Broncos. And I realize that such programming decisions are made a dozen days in advance of game day in order to accommodate travel and other factors for the network crews working the games, but I wonder if CBS ever proposed getting the Week 14 Bears/Broncos game from Fox, not only to compensate for losing Patriots/Broncos to NBC the following week, but to be “even stevens” after the Broncos road game in Minnesota originally scheduled for CBS ended up being a Fox game. Stranger things have happened – such as, well, a game with an AFC road team airing on Fox – this is the first time that has happened in the “flex scheduling” era of the NFL.

And based on the announcers that Fox has calling their games this week, you’d think they wouldn’t mind, or care, if Bears/Broncos went to CBS; you’d expect their “A” team of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman to be in Denver. Instead, they’ll be rolling out their “B” team of Kenny Albert and Daryl Johnston. This is not meant to be a slight on Kenny and “Moose,” but with Tebowmania hard to ignore, Buck and Aikman should be calling that game. Instead, they’ll be in Nashville, where the Tennessee Titans host the New Orleans Saints. (Something tells me that Joe and Troy would be a lock at Mile High had the Broncos been playing the Giants this week, or the Cowboys – both of those teams happen to be playing on “Sunday Night Football” in Week 14, hence the odd assignment for Fox’s top booth.) That being said, I’m sure Albert and Johnston will do a reasonable job calling the game.

And so, there will be no changes to the Week 15 NFL schedule. No Tom Brady vs. Tim Tebow in primetime. I can just hear Jay Leno writing jokes for his monologue aimed at CBS, as a result of NBC losing the Tim Tebow tug-of-war. Likewise, I’m sure David Letterman would have had a barb or two for his former network if things went the Peacock’s way.

And when I say there’s no changes to Week 15, it means that NBC will stick with the originally scheduled Sunday night contest of Baltimore at San Diego. You would think that, after all of that bickering with CBS about the Patriots/Broncos game, as opposed to the Jets/Eagles game that CBS had protected at first, NBC would go ahead and snag Jets/Eagles from CBS for Week 15. Even if the matchup did lose some of its luster as the season has wore on, it might have been more appealing to a national audience than Ravens/Chargers.

And it also would have done some viewers a favor – at least those Tebowmaniacs in the Northeast – by taking Jets/Eagles from CBS, because viewers in New York and Philadelphia likely would have been able to see New England/Denver (CBS carries the rotating “double header” that week; Giants play Washington earlier in the day).

The least that CBS could do, in the wake of winning the Tebow tug-of-war with NBC, is negotiate with the NFL to perhaps move up the start times of Jets/Eagles and/or Browns/Cardinals to the early game window. That way, it would allow more viewers across the country – especially those in Ohio and Arizona starving to see what is expected to be a competitive football game – the opportunity to watch the Patriots/Broncos game. Since it is their “double header” week, it implies CBS stations in most areas will carry two games on Sunday. I believe the NFL enforces a rule where there are at least two games being played in both windows of a network’s “double header”. But with a game of this magnitude, one that saw the league make an announcement on the following week’s flex-addled game changes (or ultimately a lack thereof, in this case) on Wednesday for the first time, I’m sure the NFL would have made an exception.

Remember back in 2007, when the NFL Network – which was in far fewer households back then – had a Patriots/Giants game scheduled on a Saturday night, and the Patriots happened to be 15-0 at that point? So the league struck a deal with CBS and NBC to simulcast the game? You would think that one option would be for the Patriots/Broncos game in Week 15 moving to primetime, but allowing both CBS and NBC to carry it. One would believe that “Survivor” plays second fiddle to Tebow Time.

Alas, now Al Michaels will have to wait his turn – perhaps Wild Card Weekend – to call a Broncos game with Tim Tebow under center.

Now that would be a fair consequence for CBS keeping the Patriots/Broncos game: should the Broncos make the playoffs (which it appears may very well be the case) and they are in action on the first weekend of the playoffs, NBC should carry the AFC matchup that the Broncos are involved with by default, as a result of CBS winning Tebow tug-of-war earlier in the season.

Especially if Denver ends up facing New England in the first round.

It might irk Robert Kraft, but at least it would allow NBC to finally cash in on the Tebowmania that had eluded them in the regular season.

And on a far grander stage than a regular season game. The playoffs.

And, yes, in primetime.