Why Wasn’t Cowboys/Eagles Game Flexed?

Entering Sunday night's game, the Cowboys and the Eagles had a combined record of 4-9-1.

If that didn't warrant the game being flexed out of primetime, then what would have?

One would think that the fact that the Cowboys were down to their third-string quarterback, and that the Eagles were without Miles Sanders, Zach Ertz, and four of their five starting offensive linemen should have done the trick.

Yet it didn't.

Any one of a number of Week 8 games would have been far better as a primetime game than a game matching up two teams that have both been playing so poorly and being so shorthanded (the latter of course a large part of causing the former).

The Eagles won the error-filled game (6 turnovers between the two teams) 23-9, although Dallas out-gained Philadelphia 265 total yards to 222 (and neither team even managed nine yards per completion).

Ideally, either the New Orleans at Chicago game or the San Francisco at Seattle game should have been the game moved to Sunday night — for the simple reason that this would have made the other game a nationally-televised game too, since that game would have been the only game carried in the late time slot by Fox (with a 4:25 Eastern time start), which had the doubleheader privilege in Week 8.

Plus, the Dallas at Philadelphia game would have probably been on FOX had it not been originally scheduled for primetime (until a few years ago one could have said that it would have definitely been on FOX), so all that would have been involved is swapping a FOX game with a primetime game (on NBC).

Under current league rules, up to two Sunday night games can be flexed out of Sunday night from Week 5 through Week 10, all inclusive — and one such flex was used up in Week 7, when the Seattle at Arizona game was moved to Sunday night, with the originally-scheduled Sunday night game, Tampa Bay at Las Vegas, transferred to 4:05 PM Eastern time, the low-rent district of the broadcast schedule.

There is no restriction on the number of games that can be flexed after Week 10 — and in Week 17, the Sunday night game can even be moved out of that slot and replaced with nothing, as was done in 2017 because there was no game that was meaningful for both teams even before the week began in that year.

Monday night games still cannot be flexed — but why not? Why should ESPN be stuck with either gross mismatches or battles for top draft choices in November or, even more so, December?

With all of the issues that the NFL is dealing with, ranging from the COVID-19 pandemic to the drastic decline in the number of older white viewers watching the games due to the desecrations of the national anthem by self-styled protesters, the league cannot afford to put an inferior product on the air — and subjecting the audience that is still tuning in to games with 17-point spreads and/or games between teams that might be tanking games to get a higher pick in the following year's draft is both stupid and counterproductive.

The NFL showed tremendous intelligence by going to both the 14-team playoff, and possibly, as soon as next season, the 17-game schedule.

It is time for them to show the same innovative spirit when it comes to awarding primetime games.

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