MetLife Stadium officials will face a daunting task converting from Jets to Giants mode in Week 15, with the Jets hosting the Dolphins at night on Saturday, Dec. 17, and the Giants hosting the Lions at 1 p.m. on Dec. 18.
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Might Lions-Giants, which is certain to have playoff implications, be flexed into NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” to replace the Steelers-Bengals matchup?
It could be. Fox did not protect the Giants from being moved, so they are eligible. But so is the Buccaneers-Cowboys game set for 1 p.m. that same afternoon, which also was not protected by Fox.
(Moving either game to late afternoon is not an option; CBS has the national doubleheader that day, featuring Patriots-Broncos.)
The NFL will not finalize its plans until next Monday or Tuesday. It could make the decision easier if the Buccaneers defeat the Chargers on Sunday, which might make it impossible for the league and NBC to resist ratings-friendly Dallas.
Moving either the Giants or Cowboys to Sunday night Dec. 18 would mean that team will max out on prime-time games at six. (Most teams are limited to five night games, but three teams per season can play six.)
In the past, that would have played into the NFL’s decision, because it would want to save one of the two teams for a potential flex into prime time in Week 17 on Jan. 1.
But starting this year, the maximums do not apply in Week 17, giving the NFL more flexibility to schedule a meaningful game in the final TV window of the season regardless of how many prior night games a team has had. (An earlier version of this story did not accurately account for that change.)
The Giants visit the Redskins on Jan. 1 and the Cowboys visit the Eagles.
Most Giants ticket holders will root for the Dec. 18 game not to be flexed. Traditionally, fans who attend games in person intensely dislike night games, especially late in the season.