There could still be one prime time game left for the San Francisco 49ers, and it would be their last game of the season. Right now, Sunday Night Football’s final game of the season has not been set. It has the ‘ole “TBD” next to it.
The NFC West and NFC playoff structure could all come down to Week 17: 49ers at Seattle Seahawks.
There are a few things left before the decision can be made. For one thing, the West could get wrapped up next week. This week, the Seahawks travel to face the Carolina Panthers, and that game is no gimmie. It wouldn’t be shocking if the Seahawks get taken by surprise there. Assuming the 49ers beat the Falcons Sunday, that would put everything on next week against the Los Angeles Rams. 49ers win that, and the Seattle game becomes meaningless. There’s also the Seahawks winning this weekend and then losing to the Arizona Cardinals in Seattle, but if that happens, it might be upset of the year.
There’s also a matchup between the Houston Texans and Tennessee Titans. Both teams face each other for their first divisional meeting Sunday, but if they remain tied going into the final week, their second game could be the one that gets flexed into SNF.
Unlike the 12-day flex scheduling requirement through the season, the NFL only needs six days to flex the final game in. That means they can see how all this chaos plays out and make their decision when Week 17 starts.
Right now, given the home-field advantage stakes for the playoffs and how the 49ers have been proven to get ratings, I’d bet 49ers-Seahawks is the first choice of what gets flexed. If the 49ers wrap things up early, Texans-Titans would be the one to look at. The Baltimore Ravens also face the Pittsburgh Steelers, the latter of which are now 8-5 (seems like forever ago when they failed to win off five turnovers to the 49ers). I doubt that game goes in unless there is nothing else more relevant shows up.
If that’s the case, this is the one time I’d like not to see the 49ers on prime time. But that’s just me.
NFL Flexible Scheduling 101
- Begins Sunday of Week 5
- In effect during Weeks 5-17
- Up to 2 games may be flexed into Sunday Night between Weeks 5-10
- Only Sunday afternoon games are subject to being moved into the Sunday night window.
- The game that has been tentatively scheduled for Sunday night during flex weeks will be listed at 8:15 p.m. ET.
- The majority of games on Sundays will be listed at 1:00 p.m. ET during flex weeks except for games played in Pacific or Mountain Time zones, which will be listed at 4:05 or 4:15 p.m. ET.
- No impact on Thursday, Saturday, or Monday night games.
- The NFL will decide (after consultation with CBS, FOX, NBC) and announce as early as possible the game being played at 8:15 p.m. ET. The announcement will come no later than 12 days prior to the game. The NFL may also announce games are moving to 4:05 p.m. ET and 4:25 p.m. ET.
- Week 17 start time changes could be decided on six days’ notice to ensure a game with playoff implications.
- The NBC Sunday night time slot in “flex” weeks will list the game that has been tentatively scheduled for Sunday night.
- Fans and ticket holders must be aware that NFL games in flex weeks are subject to change 12 days in advance (6 days in Week 17) and should plan accordingly.
- NFL schedules all games.
- Teams will be informed as soon as they are no longer under consideration or eligible for a move to Sunday night.