The NFL’s flexible schedule has flexed its way into the final week of the 2014 season, with the league announcing the last Sunday Night Football game of the year. Two possible matchups were possible for the last regular-season game of the year, but the Cincinnati Bengals vs Pittsburgh Steelers get the nod.
The top two teams in the AFC North will battle it out next Sunday Night on NBC, and the Bengals may need the win to march into the playoffs. While Pittsburgh has already punched its ticket to the postseason, the 9-4-1 Cincinnati Bengals need one more win to do the same. If the Bengals slip-up against the Broncos on Monday Night Football, the next Sunday night’s Steelers game will be do-or-die for Cincy.
Asking Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton to anchor two primetime games has got to be a tough pill to swallow. Dalton hasn’t historically played well in evening games, and he’s going out with two of them this year. First is a Monday Night Football showdown against Peyton Manning and the Broncos, a game that’s frankly in Denver’s favor.
Now we’ve learned that he’ll have another primetime game next week as the Bengals travel to Heinz Field to take on the Steelers. Dalton already has pressure to guide the Bengals to at least one more win. Knowing he has to get it (or them) in front of a primetime audience just ups the intensity.
While we now know the teams playing in the last Sunday Night Football game of the year, the rest of the Week 17 NFL schedule will be announced after Monday Night Football. The NFL uses “flexible scheduling” to give teams a chance to play their way onto primetime and/or into a late-afternoon slot on CBS or FOX.
For the first time this season, the NFL will “cross-flex” a select number of games between CBS and FOX to bring potentially under-distributed games to wider audiences. That full schedule of times and stations will be announced at the conclusion of the Bengals Broncos MNF game.