One of the benefits of flex scheduling is that, in the final week of the regular season, the three broadcast networks get to move games around so, hopefully, the most meaningful ones are in the best timeslots. That doesn’t necessarily mean we here in the Bay Area will get to see all of them, but this year’s finale is better than some past years. It helps that the Raiders are still fighting for a playoff spot.
For the whole country, it helps that NBC gets to pick whatever contest it wants, and like last year, it picked a winner-take-all loser-go-home scenario. That would be the NFC East matchup between the Cowboys and the Giants.
It’s a flex move that’s particularly bad for Fox which originally had the contest scheduled for 10 a.m. and would’ve moved it to 1:15 p.m. had the peacock not grabbed it. Now Fox is stuck hoping the Falcons win their Monday Night matchup against the Saints in Week 16, so both squads have something to play for next week.
That would be the NFC South crown versus the Wild Card. Fox will send most viewers the Panthers-Saints at 10 a.m. followed by the Bucs-Falcons at 1:15 p.m. Don’t worry about it because you won’t see either contest here. KTVU will have the 49ers at the Rams at 10 a.m. followed by nothing because the Raiders are at home, so no Fox game at 1:15 here.
Meanwhile CBS gets the entire AFC drama featuring the Broncos and the Raiders competing for the AFC West title, plus the Raiders and four other teams vying for the remaining Wild Card spot.
At 10 a.m. most of the country, including KPIX here, receives the Jets at the Dolphins, as the former is one of those four teams. Some viewers get the Titans, another of the four, at the Texans.
At 1:15 p.m. the network has four contests, three of which involve the remaining playoff-hopeful squads. That includes the Chargers at the Raiders, which will naturally air here assuming it sells out (it should). Some folks will get the Chiefs at the Broncos, the Raiders’ foe in the AFC West race. Most will see the Ravens at the Bengals.
It’s actually the most important game at that time because even if the Jets, Titans, and Raiders win, they can’t get the Wild Card unless the Bengals lose. If the Bengals win, they’re in. They lose, one of the others goes.
As an added bonus, the Ravens, who are tied with the Steelers in the AFC North, also have something to play for. A win gives them the 2-seed and a week off in the first week of the playoffs, followed by a home game in Week 2, while a loss may force them to go on the road in Week 1. By the way, the Steelers are at the Browns at 1:15 as well, so that AFC North versus Wild Card race will play out then too.
CBS will no-doubt keep us apprised of what’s going on in the other three contests, so we’ll know whether or not the Raiders are actually playing for something.
It’s a near perfect scenario for CBS and NBC. By the time the former signs off, two divisional titles and two wild card spots will be set, while the other will fill in the final NFC piece of the puzzle.
So if you care about the playoff picture, you’ll stick with channel 5 during the day, then switch to KNTV at 5:30 p.m.
Only 49er fans will bother with channel 2’s lone broadcast. Looks like they clinched the division too early.
See you next year!
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