It used to be rare. Then it was occasional. Now it is routine.
When and why did having the Giants and Jets both play games that start at 1 p.m. become common?
The when is that it has evolved this decade, to the point that it hardly raises an eyebrow anymore.
It already has occurred four times in 2018 and will happen again in Weeks 16 and 17.
That is a lot, especially when you consider that it never occurred between 1985 and 2008. It happened twice in 2009, but that was because of special circumstances. A Jets game was moved to 1 p.m. to accommodate fans observing Yom Kippur and a Giants game was moved to 1 to minimize parking problems in Philadelphia before Game 4 of the Yankees-Phillies World Series.
Starting in 2012, it became common for both to play at 1 p.m. in Week 17, when the NFL sought to maximize relevant games and both Fox and CBS carried doubleheaders.
Then overlapping Jets and Giants windows started coming earlier in the season, to Week 12 in 2015 and Week 9 in 2016. The first time it happened this season was in Week 5.
The NFL declined to comment in detail on the subject, but there are two main reasons for the change in approach.
The first is that in the flexible scheduling era, many more games than in the past are scheduled for 1 p.m. Eastern Time, with the understanding that they can be flexed to late afternoon or prime time.
The Jets and Giants have warranted no such flexing in the past couple of seasons, and most seasons this decade.
The second is a larger philosophical change this decade: Using creative scheduling, such as “cross-flexing” AFC games to Fox and NFC games to CBS, to maximize aggregate ratings.
So unlike in the past, when a late afternoon Jets game on CBS might have kept New Yorkers from seeing a good national game on Fox, now both New York teams can play at 1, leaving the later window available to metropolitan-area viewers.
The best way to minimize Jets /Giants overlap? For one or both teams to have a winning record. Someday.