There are always surprise teams that develop during the first half of the NFL season. Some teams are much better than expected, and then some teams don’t meet expectations.
The New York Jets have several prime-time games scheduled because Aaron Rodgers was expected to be the starting quarterback. If they end up with a bad record, the NFL flex scheduling policy is in place to allow the networks to change when games are played.
How Does Flex Scheduling Work for This Season?
For Sunday Night Football, games can be changed no more than two times between Weeks 5–10. For the rest of the season, Sunday night schedule changes will be at the NFL’s discretion. Starting in Week 5, the NFL will announce at least 12 days in advance the games that will be played on Sunday. For Weeks 14–17, the NFL will announce the Sunday night games no later than six days in advance.
Week 18’s schedule and times will be announced the week before. There will be two Saturday games ahead of 14 Sunday games.
What Are the Changes for the 2023 NFL Season?
There are two significant changes this season to flex scheduling. Games scheduled to be played on Amazon Prime on Thursday or ESPN/ABC on Mondays are now eligible to be flexed out and replaced with a new game. Amazon Prime will be allowed to change the Thursday night game twice starting in Week 13 this season.
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Changes to Thursday night games will be made no later than 28 days in advance. Monday night games can be moved at the league’s discretion beginning in Week 12 and will be announced at least 12 days ahead of time. A game will be played on Sunday if it is moved from a Thursday to Monday.
What Other Games Can Be Flexed?
Saturday in Week 15 will have flex scheduling. There were five matchups designated as possible flex games for that week when the original season’s schedule was released in the spring. Three of the games will be played on Saturday, with the other two played on Sunday.
There is some flexing done for afternoon games on Sundays when matchups are moved from the early 1 p.m. ET window to the 4:25 p.m. ET window. Games will remain on the original network for this type of flex.
When Did Flex Scheduling Begin?
The NFL started flex scheduling in 2006 to have the ability to switch games for Sunday Night Football. NBC was allowed to change away from the games that were originally scheduled. The flex schedule involved games between Week 10 and Week 15.
The Sunday afternoon rights holders, FOX and CBS, could each protect four games from being moved to NBC. The list of protected games was submitted after Week 4. NBC would then be able to select a game for Sunday night. Picks had to be made no later than 12 days before a game, and there were limits on how often a team could play in prime time during a season.
The Sunday Night Football game in the final week was usually a game that had direct implications for a team making the playoffs. This strategy prevented a team playing Sunday night from making the playoffs or being eliminated by results earlier in the day.
There have been tweaks in policy over the years to how NBC can select Sunday night games and how CBS and FOX can protect games from being flexed.