NFL’s Sunday Night Football Scheduling Procedures: a look at how the Sunday Night ‘Flex’ Package is organized

 

Flexible Scheduling Procedures

Allows teams to play their way onto the Sunday night schedule

In 2006 the NFL implemented a primetime “flexible scheduling” element on Sundays in Weeks 10-15 and in Week 17. In 2014 that was extended so that games between Weeks 5 and 17 could be affected by flex scheduling. However, only two games may be flexed into Sunday Night between Week 5 and 10.

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.

Read a great analysis of Flex Scheduling possibilities the rest of the way

Only Sunday afternoon games are eligible to be moved to Sunday night, in which case the tentatively scheduled Sunday night game will be moved to an afternoon start time. Flexible scheduling will not be applied to games airing on Thursday, Saturday or Monday nights.

Just as the six major college football conferences have done for many years, the NFL has the flexibility to move the start times of games on Sundays, using a 12-day notice format.

For example, a game scheduled for a Sunday could move from a 1:00 p.m. ET kickoff to an 8:15 p.m. start, but the change would be made and announced no later than the prior Tuesday, 12 days prior. Sunday afternoon games, as in the past, can still be moved between 1:00 and 4:05 or 4:25 p.m. ET.

In Week 17, in order to ensure a Sunday night game with playoff implications, the decision to move the start time may be made on six days notice.

2021 Flexible Scheduling Procedures

“Flexible scheduling” will be used in Weeks 11-18. Additionally, in Weeks 5-10, flexible scheduling may be used in no more than two weeks. In Weeks 5-17, the schedule lists the games tentatively set for Sunday Night Football on NBC. Only Sunday afternoon games are eligible to be moved to Sunday night, in which case the tentatively scheduled Sunday night game would be moved to an afternoon start time.

For Week 18, two Saturday games and the Sunday night game will be announced no later than six days prior to January 9. The schedule does not list Saturday games or a Sunday night game in Week 18, but games with playoff implications will be moved to those time slots. Flexible scheduling ensures quality matchups in all Sunday time slots in those weeks and gives “surprise” teams a chance to play their way into primetime.

Flexible scheduling will not be applied to games airing on Thursday or Monday nights.

NFL FLEXIBLE SCHEDULING 101

  • Begins Sunday of Week 5
  • In effect during Weeks 5-18
  • 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, 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 moving to 4:05 p.m. ET and 4:25 p.m. ET.
  • Week 18 start time changes could be decided on 6 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 18) 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.

************************************************************

Know some top athletic performances? Seeing some great teams in action?

We can use your help, and it’s simple.  Witness some great performances? Hear about top athletes and top teams in our area?

Nominate an athlete or team: HERE

Pancakes or Waffles!  We feature top area athletes with our world-renowned feature. Send us your nominations for who you’d like us to interview HERE

Baked or Fried! We also feature difference makers throughout central Wisconsin: coaches, booster club leaders, adminstration, volunteers, you name it. Send us your nominations for who you’d like us to interview HERE

College Athlete Roundup! We want to recognize student-athletes from the area who are competing at the college level. Send us information on college athletes from the area with our simple form HERE

Where are they Now? We feature athletes and difference makers  from the past, standouts in sports who excelled over the years and have moved on. Know of a former athlete, coach or difference maker who we should feature? Know of a former standout competitor whose journey beyond central Wisconsin sports is one we should share? Send us information on athletes and difference makers of the past with our simple form HERE 

We welcome your stories! Contact us at [email protected]!

David Keech
Author: David Keech

David Keech is a math teacher in Wisconsin Rapids and public address announcer for Abbotsord High School. He officiates basketball, baseball, and softball in central Wisconsin. He has reported on amateur sports since 2011, known as 'KeechDaVoice.' David can be reached at [email protected]