Last year, the NFL started this flex scheduling thing, which allows them to alter the schedule late in the season so that the more meaningful games are broadcast on national television.
While there are rules that the NFL follows for selecting these games, they do Week 17 a bit differently. No games are off limits for the switch to NBC, aside from picking teams that have reached televised limits. They also only have to give six days advance warning about the change, instead of the normal 12 days.
That means the NFL will place the game with the most riding on it as their season finale on NBC.
So which games look like they could be a possibility?
Broncos at Chargers
Why It Could Be Picked: It's not the greatest game to watch, but it would be the one that would have everything on the line without worrying about someone screwing it up earlier in the day. If the Chargers beat the Bucs today and Broncos lose to the Bills, their Week 17 meeting would be for the AFC West title and a playoff berth. If that scenario happens, I think this is the frontrunner. That doesn't even include the drama that this is the first meeting between the two teams since the Ed-Hochuli-assisted Denver win in Week 2.
Why It Won't: It all depends on what happens today. A betting man wouldn't throw too much on both the Chargers winning in Tampa and the Broncos losing at home to the floundering Bills.
Dolphins at Jets
Why It Could Be: The Phins and Jets could be tied with the Patriots atop the AFC East heading into the week. With all kinds of things going on, this game could be for the AFC East crown. How would pitting Brett Favre in a must-win game against a team that has been one of the league's best stories draw?
Why It Won't: The game is a risk. With Baltimore's surprising win in Dallas last night and the Colts wrapping up a wild card berth, it is unlikely that the AFC East will get two teams. Even if there is a chance, a Ravens win over the Jaguars during the day next week would make this game moot.
Cowboys at Eagles
Why It Could Be Picked: Of course NBC wants to show another Cowboys game. Of course they'd love to have that game in Philly where the locals would love nothing more than to make Terrell Owens cry. Not just that, but an Eagles win over the Redskins tonight (as well as some bad things happening to the Falcons and/or Buccaneers) and this could be a playoff game itself.
Why It Won't: If both Tampa and Atlanta win today, then NBC would run risk of this game being meaningless next week. If they schedule the game and neither the Bucs or Falcons lose another game, then the Cowboys and Eagles would both be eliminated before the game started.
Giants at Vikings
Why It Could Be Picked: The Giants may enter the game as the best team in the league and the Vikings, with a win today, would be NFC North champions. If Minnesota loses and Chicago wins today, then this game could be picked up with a division title on the line.
Why It Won't: If both the Giants and Vikings are locked in to their playoff spots, then this game has no risk value to it. Even if the NFC North is up in the air heading into Week 17, a Bears loss would give the Vikings the crown and make this game meaningless.
Raiders at Buccaneers: A playoff spot for Tampa could be on the line, but why would NBC want the Raiders on air?
Jaguars at Ravens: A playoff spot for the Ravens could be on the line. Or maybe they'll have that clinched by gametime.
Patriots at Bills: The Jets-Dolphins game would be much bigger.
Panthers at Saints: Carolina could be playing for the NFC South title, but they have a postseason bid locked up so there isn't as much pressure.
Titans at Colts: The only game that matches up two teams that have locked up playoff spots right now. However, this game will mean nothing next week.
Who Will NBC Pick For Their Sunday Night Game In Week 17? originally appeared on NFL FanHouse on Sun, 21 Dec 2008 14:55:00 EST . Please see our terms for use of feeds.