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How NFL Flex Scheduling Works

Beginning in 2006, the NFL has used “Flex Scheduling” to determine the matchups for Sunday Night Football beginning in Week 11 of the NFL Season. Flex Scheduling is used to ensure that Sunday Night’s prime time NFL broadcasts have playoff implications through the second half of the season. 

Essentially, all games scheduled for Sunday Night from Week 11 through the end of the NFL season are tentative. For weeks 11 thru 16, the League will announce a “Flex” or change in the Sunday night game at least 12 days prior to the game. For example, if the league wanted to change the Sunday Night game for Week #14, they would need to announceNFL Flex Scheduling the change by Tuesday of Week #12. In week #17, they can announce a change only 6 days or more in advance to ensure the best possible matchup.

What Games are Subject to Flex Scheduling?

Only Sunday games are subject to be “Flexed.” No Monday, Thursday, or Saturday Games are ever effected. Both CBS and Fox, who currently hold the TV contracts for Sunday afternoon games, can protect one game per week (up to 5 games per year) from being flexed to Sunday Night Football. The networks cannot protect any Week 17 games, and thus all games all eligible to be “Flexed.”

Who Decides Which Games get Moved to Sunday Night?

The NFL consults with the networks, but the League has the final decision in all matters of scheduling.

Other Flex Scheduling Rules

  • NFL Flex scheduling begin in 2006 when NBC was awarded the Sunday Night Football broadcast package.
  • No team can appear on Sunday Night more than 4 times per season.
  • In 20111, Flex scheduling will begin in Week #10 and the week #16 Christmas Night matchup (Green Bay vs. Chicago) will not be flexed.
Sources:
NFL.com
Flex Scheduling on Wikipedia
NFL.com archives 
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