NBC owns the right to flex games into the Sunday Night window after week 5 of the regular season, in order to put superior product on the television in case the original scheduling turns out flat. CBS and FOX can protect games to prevent losing high quality games in order to save their own ratings. The week 14 games between the Patriots and the Texans was flexed to Sunday Night Football earlier this season, the Patriots sixth prime time game of the year.

New England had already played the Steelers (week 1), Colts (week 6), Dolphins (week 8), Bills (week 11), Broncos (week 12) in prime time.

The flex schedule only applies to games on Sunday, and week 16 offers a weak slate. The two best games of the wee (Eagles-Washington; Bengals-Broncos) are on Saturday and Monday, respectively, and couldn’t be flexed. Sunday offered just the Patriots-Jets (on CBS), the PanthersFalcons (on FOX), and PackersCardinals (on FOX).

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