The NFL made waves this past off-season by introducing a new flex policy. This allowed the league to flex both Monday Night Football (MNF) and Thursday Night Football (TNF) games at their discretion. Now, we are entering the weeks that this can come into play.
However, at the time of writing, there has not been a single game flexed this season. Is this a good or a bad thing? Is the NFL missing out on good opportunities? Let’s dive into it.
NFL Flex Rules
First, you need to understand the rules that the NFL has about flexing certain games. You can only do it during certain weeks of the season and there has to be a certain amount of notice. This varies depending on the day of the game.
Sunday Night Football games could be flexed from Week 5 onwards. However, the NFL needed to provide 12 days’ notice up to Week 13. It is just six days’ notice for the last five weeks of the season.
Then, we have Monday Night Football. The NFL needs to provide 12 days’ notice for these games. They can flex games taking place between Weeks 12-17.
Thursday Night Football arguably has the strictest rules surrounding it. Due to the time of the week that these teams play, there are more limited opportunities for this. The NFL needs to provide 28 days’ notice for these games and they can only flex TNF games between Weeks 13-17.
There have been a few times this season where fans could legitimately question why a game was not flexed out. For TNF, this starts with the upcoming Week 14 matchup between the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers. The Patriots are just 2-8 and the Steelers have been outgained in every game that they have played this season. This could have been a good opportunity for the NFL to spare the national audience from an unappealing game.
Back in Week 8, the NFL could have easily flexed the Chicago Bears and Los Angeles Chargers matchup out of SNF. Going into that game, both teams were struggling. The Bears were 2-5 and the Chargers were 2-4. Despite both teams being located in large markets, there was not much national appeal for the game and it ended up being a Chargers’ blowout.
Speaking of the Bears, there was another opportunity the NFL missed out on. That is this upcoming MNF game between the Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings. The Bears are still struggling with a record of 3-8.
The NFL still has a chance to rectify this and take advantage of a few good flex opportunities. The Week 17 TNF matchup between the New York Jets and Cleveland Browns should receive serious consideration. This is especially the case if the Jets fall to 4-8 before the 28 days’ notice.
Two interesting candidates stand out here. The Las Vegas Raiders take on the Indianapolis Colts that week, with both teams currently sitting at 5-5. Also, you have the New Orleans Saints taking on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. That game could have major implications for the NFC South title.
One of the two games mentioned above could also be swapped in for SNF that week. Right now, the Green Bay Packers are slated to take on the Minnesota Vikings there.
A few good MNF opportunities are coming up as well. The New England Patriots host the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 15. While it is always appealing to have Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, and Taylor Swift fans in a national game, the Patriots are simply awful this season.
Then, Week 14 has two MNF games. One of them involves the New York Giants. That one may be difficult to flex out considering both them and the New York Jets have home games at MetLife Stadium that week.
However, the other MNF game that week is between the Tennessee Titans and Miami Dolphins. The Titans are currently just 3-7. Games such as the Jacksonville Jaguars at Cleveland Browns, Minnesota Vikings at Las Vegas Raiders, or even a rematch between the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers could be appealing flex options.