While checking the schedule for this weekend’s games I noticed an interesting scheduling fluke. The Minnesota Vikings, who made it into the playoffs just a season ago, will be visiting the New York Giants, who missed the playoffs last year, but only just. The fluke? ESPN will be televising a game between teams combining for one win and ten losses. Ouch.
In a way, this game will be a little good and a lot of bad. With two terrible teams, we’re likely to see a somewhat compelling finish. The Vikings and Giants, if nothing else, have proved themselves adept in the art of mistakes, and given a little luck, we may be treated to something less common than a battle of undefeated juggernauts. This could be a battle of utterly incompetent football teams.
To get serious for a moment, this game isn’t meaningless. Next year’s draft order could be altered by what happens on Monday Night Football this weekend. We know the Giants won’t be using a high pick on a quarterback, but what about the Minnesota Vikings? Josh Freeman may be the Vikings’ quarterback of choice for the moment, but there’s a very good chance that he’ll underwhelm the team, and with a one-year contract, the Vikings’ quarterback needs may become a real concern once again in the near future.
The NFL has put an added emphasis in recent years on placing the best games in primetime slots, and this is a slap in the face of that philosophy. This is the type of game that could make the NFL look into expanding their flex scheduling initiative.
Currently, the NFL using “flex scheduling” from week 11 through the end of the regular season in week 17. In those weeks, a late afternoon game may be “flexed” into the Sunday night slot and the Sunday night slot bumped back to the late afternoon. The big question is, would it be feasible to flex games to Monday night?
Ultimately, we’re more likely to see flex scheduling in its current format expanded to include all of the second half of the season than to see it expanded to alter Monday night games. This game won’t be memorable in the long run. It’s a near-meaningless battle between two really bad teams.
Really, this game will shine more light on flex scheduling, although admittedly, changes would be problematic on a number of fronts, especially from the ticket sales perspective. Still, its games like this that may push the NFL to expand its use of flex scheduling to include more the season. What if this game was a Sunday night matchup? It can, and does, happen, and such matchups only mean the NFL is missing out on extra money.