Despite all the elements of a NFC showdown between two division leaders, the Rams’ Week 12 Coliseum encounter with New Orleans on Sunday, Nov. 26, will remain a 1:05 p.m. kickoff as the NFL and NBC decided Tuesday not to enact the “flex rule” trigger that could have moved it into a prime-time national matchup.
A league source indicated NBC will stay with its previously scheduled Green Bay-Pittsburgh contest, which may involve two of the NFL’s marquee franchises, but it has lost a lot of juice with the season-ending injury to Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Tuesday is the deadline for the NFL to decide a Week 12 schedule change after consulting with Fox, CBS and NBC. Kickoff changes can not come later than 12 days prior to the game, or six days prior in Week 17. The NFL has not officially announced this decision.
The decision to make a change like this isn’t as simple as taking a game involving teams with better records.
Fox and CBS are allowed to protect certain games and NBC does not want to take risks in upsetting a schedule it already has in place.
Fox, for example, could protect the Rams when they are involved in another potential flex game in Week 14 as they face Philadelphia at the Coliseum. It is currently is set up as a Fox national afternoon broadcast in the 1:25 p.m. window. NBC currently has Baltimore-Pittsburgh that night.
The Rams-Seattle 1 p.m. game in Seattle during Week 15 is also considered a logical flex candidate.
The Rams have not played on a Sunday Night Football since moving back to Los Angeles, only a Monday Night contest in San Francisco to open the 2016 season.
In 2006, the NFL started a “flexible schedule” element to its Sunday prime-time games covering Weeks 10 through 15, and Week 17. In 2014, that was extended between Weeks 5 and 17, but only two games could be flexed into Sunday nights from Week 5 to 10. No flexing took place in that stretch.
Only Sunday afternoon games are subject to being moved into the Sunday night window.
The NFL says on its website: “Flexible scheduling ensured quality matchups on Sunday night in those weeks and gave surprise teams a chance to play their way onto primetime. The NBC Sunday night time slot for flex weeks lists the game tentatively scheduled for Sunday night.”
The NFL first announced its 2017 schedule in April.