Part of coming to grips with the fact that the Detroit Lions are a pretty good football team is realizing they’ll likely play meaningful games late into the season. A meaningful game played by an exciting up and coming team is just the reason the NFL instituted flexible scheduling starting in week 11.
The flex scheduling allows for the league to remove the schedule Sunday Night Football game in favor of a more intriguing game. Are the Lions a candidate to pick up an additional primetime appearance as a result? I say there is a definite chance.
The first step in identifying a potential Lions game to move into primetime is to look at the current SNF schedule to determine which matchups might not be the premier game they were cracked up to be before the season started. Here are the game that could get the boot out of their scheduled SNF time slot:
Week 12: PIT at KC
Week 13: IND at NE
Week 17: TBA, game not yet announced
The next step is to look at what the Lions schedule holds for those weeks:
Week 12: Home against GB (Thanksgiving Day)
Week 13: at NO
Week 17: at GB
Cross week 12 off the list as a possible move to Sunday Night Football. Week 17 may not be a possibility simply because the Packers are already scheduled to host the Bears on SNF in week 16. That leaves week 13 as the game most likely to be “promoted” into primetime on that Sunday night.
Week 13 presents some interesting scenarios for the league to consider. Indianapolis at New England was a solid preseason choice for Sunday Night Football but the uncertainty of Peyton Manning’s injury situation makes one wonder if that game will truly be worthy of a national audience, especially considering how poorly the Colts have played in Manning’s absence. If the league decides to “flex” the Pats and Colts out of primetime I see two options for games to flex in. The Falcons are scheduled to play at Houston that week in another game that could be a premier matchup by the time early December rolls around but the intra-conference clash between the Lions and Saints may turn in to the game of the week.