After wins by both the Eagles and the Rams on Sunday, the pressure is on the NFL as it decides whether to flex the teams’ Week 14 matchup into prime time, which would bump Sunday Night Football’s Ravens-Steelers matchup on Dec. 10 to an afternoon game.
The NFL has until Tuesday to announce any flex decision it might make for Week 14.
Fox failed to protect the Eagles-Rams game from being flexed by the NFL, and a source confirmed a report by Los Angeles Times writer Sam Farmer that the network is fighting hard to keep the Dec. 10 game between 2016 top draft picks Carson Wentz and Jared Goff in its current 4:25 p.m. slot. Fox Sports did not respond to a request for comment.
If Fox convinces the NFL that it should keep the game, it would be moved to the network’s national window, displacing a Cowboys-Giants matchup that would ordinarily be a guaranteed ratings hit. It would also mean Fox would be moving broadcasters Troy Aikman and Joe Buck off the Dallas game to call the Eagles-Rams contest, something that doesn’t happen often.
The Eagles have been a strong national ratings draw this season, with Week 11’s dominating 37-9 win over the Cowboys on Sunday Night Football garnering the best ratings for any NFL prime-time game since Week 1 this season. The overnight ratings for Sunday’s Saints-Rams game (which the NFL cross-flexed to CBS from Fox to attract a larger audience) were down 11.9 percent from last year’s Panthers-Raiders matchup, which also was part of cross-flexing, according to Sports Business Daily.
The other game the NFL could flex into prime time in Week 14 is the Vikings-Panthers matchup, which is scheduled to air at 1 p.m. on CBS. The Vikings are in first place in the NFC North with a surprising 9-2 record, and the NFL has already flexed this Sunday’s Panthers-Saints game to 4:25 p.m. to be part of the national doubleheader window.
The Eagles are already scheduled to appear on Sunday Night Football when they face the Seahawks this weekend, but it’s not unheard of for the NFL to have the same team in prime time on NBC in back-to-back weeks. Last year, the NFL flexed Tampa Bay-Dallas to prime time on Dec. 18 just a week after the Cowboys took on the Giants the previous Sunday night. And in 2013, the Eagles were flexed into Sunday Night Football in Weeks 16 and 17 during Chip Kelly’s first season as head coach.