Bears-Eagles Moved To "SNF" In Week 16 In Order To Keep Flexibility For Season Finale
Sources said the NFL decided to flex one high profile "Sunday Night Football" game for another high profile game in Week 16 in order to maintain enough flexibility around the Week 17 season finale. The league yesterday announced that it would move Bears-Eagles to "SNF" and the Patriots-Ravens game to CBS' 4:25pm ET window on Dec. 22 -- a move that surprised some industry execs because it replaced one "SNF" game with playoff implications with another. Sources said the NFL made the move to stay in line with a rule written in its broadcast contracts prohibiting the league from taking too many primetime games from CBS or Fox each season. The rule says that the difference in the number of games taken from CBS and Fox cannot be more than three games. If the NFL did not make a Week 16 move, it would have taken 25 games from CBS and 22 from Fox for its primetime packages this season on NBC, ESPN and NFL Network. That is important because the NFL would not have been able to take a CBS matchup for the season finale, when the "SNF" game is the season's final matchup and should have playoff implications. With the change, 24 primetime games come from CBS and 23 come from Fox, giving the NFL access to the entire slate of Week 17 games from which to choose. The move clearly benefits CBS, which will see a nice upgrade in its Week 16 national window over what had been scheduled (Steelers-Packers and Raiders-Chargers). Fox still has a couple of games that are expected to bring strong ratings (Saints-Panthers and Cowboys-Redskins), making the loss of Eagles-Bears more palatable.