The NFL Introduced Radical Changes To Its 2014-2015 Season Schedule

By Nick Venable 2014-04-24 01:34:39 discussion comments
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The NFL Introduced Radical Changes To Its 2014-2015 Season Schedule image
When it comes to ratings, NFL games are TVís biggest no-brainers. Even though a portion of the record-breaking ratings that Super Bowls mount up are in part due to people just wanting to watch funny commercials, playoff games also draw huge numbers, and even regular season games bring in viewers that scripted shows would kill for. So itís no small matter that the 2014-2015 season will feature three significant changes in where and when some of the most important games of the season are played.

First, Deadline reported that ESPN will receive the privilege of hosting a wildcard game during the first week of the postseason. This marks the first time in league history that any kind of playoff game will be broadcast on pay TV, something that used to carry more of a stigma when less people had cable. It should be no surprise that ESPNís most watched programs are already football games Ė though theyíre NCAA games and not Monday Night Football like you might expect Ė but the advantage that an NFL playoff game offers is a touchdown even in the worst case scenario.

To give you a clue on just how huge this is for ESPN, consider that their highest-rated program as of this writing is the 2011 BCS National Championship between Auburn and Oregon, which was watched by just over 27.3 million people; that also happens to be the biggest cable audience ever. In comparison, the Colts/Chiefs game on CBS last season was watched by 27.6 million, and that was the lowest of all the games; the 49ers/Packers game drew the biggest wildcard ratings in almost 30 years with 47.1 million viewers.

clay matthews

But that shift essentially only affects one game. With the release of the new schedule, the NFL has implemented two alterations to their flex scheduling, in which the league has the option to give the weekís biggest matchup to the high priority Sunday Night Football on NBC. In previous years, this switcheroo format began in Week 11, once playoff chances become clearer and game stakes are raised, but now the NFL can also flip-flop the schedule from Weeks 5-10, though it can only do so for two of the six SNF games.

In another huge change, the NFL will branch their flex scheduling out by freeing up the ability to choose which network the regular season Sunday games will air on. For years, the conferences have been split between channels Ė with CBS and the AFC presently in one corner opposite Fox and the NFC Ė which has led to many a weekend when big games had to go unwatched only to have unimportant games between the Bills and the Browns on instead. (Zing!) But now the league can pretty much do whatever it wants, thus allowing audiences access to the best games every week.

Below you can find the schedule for all the primetime games that this upcoming season will have to offer, and Iím going to leave you to read them alone, lest I keep talking up until the season starts in August.
Thursday Night Football (NBC Week 1; CBS/NFL Network simulcast Weeks 2-8; NFL Network Weeks 9-16)
Week 1: Green Bay at Seahawks
Week 2: Pittsburgh at Ravens
Week 3: Tampa Bay at Atlanta
Week 4: New York Giants at Washington
Week 5: Minnesota at Green Bay
Week 6: Indianapolis at Houston
Week 7: New York Jets at New England
Week 8: San Diego at Denver
Week 9: New Orleans at Carolina
Week 10: Cleveland at Cincinnati
Week 11: Buffalo at Miami
Week 12: Kansas City at Oakland
Week 13: Seattle at San Francisco (Thanksgiving)
Week 14: Dallas at Chicago
Week 15: Arizona at St. Louis
Week 16: Tennessee at Jacksonville


Sunday Night Football (NBC)
Week 1: Indianapolis at Denver
Week 2: Chicago at San Francisco
Week 3: Pittsburgh at Carolina
Week 4: New Orleans at Dallas
Week 5: Cincinnati at New England
Week 6: New York Giants at Philadelphia
Week 7: San Francisco at Cleveland
Week 8: Green Bay at New Orleans
Week 9: Baltimore at Pittsburgh
Week 10: Chicago at Green Bay
Week 11: New England at Indianapolis
Week 12: Dallas at New York Giants
Week 13: Denver at Kansas City
Week 14: New England at San Diego
Week 15: Dallas at Philadelphia
Week 16: Seattle at St. Louis
Week 17: TBA (flex game)


Monday Night Football (ESPN)
Week 1: N.Y. Giants at Detroit; San Diego at Arizona
Week 2: Philadelphia at Indianapolis
Week 3: Chicago at N.Y. Jets
Week 4: New England at Kansas City
Week 5: Seattle at Washington
Week 6: San Francisco at St. Louis
Week 7: Houston at Pittsburgh
Week 8: Washington at Dallas
Week 9: Indianapolis at N.Y. Giants
Week 10: Carolina at Philadelphia
Week 11: Pittsburgh at Tennessee
Week 12: Baltimore at New Orleans
Week 13: Miami at N.Y. Jets
Week 14: Atlanta at Green Bay
Week 15: New Orleans at Chicago
Week 16: Denver at Cincinnati

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