Scratch two more games off the list of for a potential Sunday Night Football move. Adam Schefter of ESPN tweets that CBS has secured the rights to both of the Broncos-Chiefs games, which means neither can be flexed into a Sunday Night Football game.
The tweet of which I’m speaking:
CBS has protected Broncos-Chiefs matchups in weeks 11 and 13, meaning NBC will not be permitted to flex those games into Sunday night.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 10, 2013
So, there’s that. Denver will not be playing Kansas City in a primetime setting.
However, it does not mean there’s not some games that could find their way over to Sunday Night Football. Here’s a reverse rankings of what games have the best shot of being flexed to primetime now that both Denver games are off the table.
3. CHIEFS at RAIDERS
Why It Will Happen: Poor game slate
The current game scheduled for Sunday Night Football is Cincinnati at Pittsburgh, a game that is not likely to be entertaining. So NBC will likely be looking for a better game to air as opposed to one that could feature a one or two win team.
The best games that week will likely not be available to NBC. Green Bay is at Dallas, but there is no way Fox doesn’t protect that game from being flexed out. Denver plays on Thursday night so they would be ineligible to be flexed out. Houston plays at Indianapolis but that’s likely to be the game CBS protects.
There’s not much left after those games.
Kansas City at Oakland features a lot of things a network is looking for: A meaningful game (Oakland could be in wild card hunt), a crazy crowd, a rivalry game, two large followings who will watch the game on television, and a game in which the better team (KC in this case) could lose. All the other comparable games are likely not to have the same atmosphere as KC at Oakland.
It is a game that would do very well on television.
Why It Won’t Happen: Miami Dolphins, Oakland falls off
A game that would best compete with Chiefs at Oakland would be New England at Miami. Obviously the television markets are bigger so the viewership would be high, but Miami is also supposed to be New England’s biggest competitor in the AFC East. This would obviously be a prime matchup if Miami is still in it.
Also, there is a chance Oakland falls after a good start from Terrelle Pryor. Pryor is 2-2 in games he’s started with both of his losses coming against 4-1 Indy and 5-0 Denver. It wouldn’t be a surprise if Oakland were a 7 or 8 win team the next time Kansas City sees them. On the other hand, it would be surprising if Oakland is a four-win team. Much of this game’s value is based on Oakland having something to play for and being good enough to beat Kansas City. Otherwise, it is not too much different from the game NBC will be giving up.
2. CHIEFS at WASHINGTON
Why It Will Happen: Playoff implications, scheduled SNF game, and Robert Griffin III
Yes, Washington is 1-3 on the season, but they are only one game out of first place in the terrible NFC East. There’s still plenty of time for Washington to make a play for the NFL East title, including three division games in the final five weeks.
Additionally, the Washington D.C. market plus the stardom of RGIII combined with the Chiefs viewing base would be a very strong ratings grab for either ESPN or NBC. Ratings that would probably be higher than the current Atlanta Falcons vs. Green Bay Packers game that is scheduled for that week.
Why It Won’t Happen: Washington falls off, other games scheduled
Washington is 1-3 for a reason, and if they cannot pull out a few of these games against Dallas, Chicago, and Denver over the next three weeks, they’re going to be in some serious trouble even in a weak division.
There are two other games that may be more appealing to NBC if they decide to punt on Atlanta-Green Bay: Colts at Bengals and Seahawks at 49ers. CBS and Fox may protect those games, which would open the door for Kansas City, but CBS probably wants to ensure they keep Denver (who plays Tennessee) and Fox has a Detroit/Philadelphia game and the Saints game to consider.
1. COLTS at CHIEFS
Why It Will Happen: Two good teams, Arrowhead, Playoff implications
Andrew Luck and the potentially division leading Colts against a double-digit wins team at Arrowhead? There is a lot to like there. Add in the potential playoff ramifications and the game should be everything a network is looking for in a game.
Kansas City may also benefit from New England getting flexed into Sunday Night Football for their Miami game, which is one week before KC’s game against Indianapolis. NBC may not want to have the same team on in back-to-back weeks.
Denver plays against Houston, which would be an appealing game for NBC, but that is highly likely to be protected by CBS. Fox would likely keep the Dallas at Washington game, which appears to be the only other competitor to the KC-Indy game.
Why It Won’t Happen: Denver
While CBS may do everything they can to protect the Denver game, if the Broncos are still perfect heading into week 16 it is hard to see how the NFL doesn’t force the situation so that Denver gets the primetime game. Houston is probably the last team who could beat Denver before the season ends as the Broncos have Oakland the final week of the season. It is hard to find a scenario where Denver isn’t flexed to Sunday night if they are still unbeaten.