Jerry Jones said on his radio show that he doubts that the week 17 showdown between Washington and Dallas will be flexed to the NBC Sunday Night finale. This game seems like it should be the slam dunk choice, considering the combination of importance, fan bases, and television interest.
If Dallas and Washington both win this week, then it is a playoff game between bitter rivals and two large television draws. Even if one of them loses, it is still a vital game. It’s true that the teams played a stand alone game already on Thanksgiving, but FOX did have that game, so they should not be able to complain about losing this one.
What’s going on here? Dallas did play the Giants on Sunday Night last year with the playoffs on the line in week 17, so perhaps Jerry is trying to get out of another stand alone decisive game this year. I’m sure FOX is making noise not to lose the game, but that should be just part of the deal.
If it’s not Dallas and Washington on the Sunday Night finale, who could it be? Here are the only ones that I think can be reasonable choices:
- Green Bay at Minnesota: Does the league want to showcase Adrian Peterson potentially setting the single season rushing record? Minnesota has playoff hopes, though if they are the final game of the season, those may be extinguished before they take the field since they need a fair amount of help. Green Bay could have something to play for (a first round bye) if the 49ers lose at Seattle this week. If San Francisco wins, though, the Packers will likely be in rest starters mode.
- Baltimore at Cincinnati: This one could be for the AFC North title if Cincinnati beats Pittsburgh and Baltimore loses to the Giants. If the Bengals lose in Pittsburgh, though, the Ravens clinch the division no matter what they do against New York, and will have zero incentive to play starters, being locked into the #4 seed. Cincinnati could be playing for a playoff spot (then again, they may already know they are eliminated) but would they really pick a game with one team having no incentive. This matchup was already in primetime in the Monday season opener.
- St. Louis at Seattle: I guess I will throw this in, but I’m not sure how viable this is. If Seattle loses to San Francisco, then they will likely need this win, but would not be eliminated. St. Louis likely is eliminated by then. Would they really want another Rams-Seahawks finale for the second time in three years?
Besides that, I don’t see too much that is out there that would even be a possibility. Indianapolis hosts Houston, but that is likely to be a “rest the starters” game for Houston and the Colts may be in by then. Most of the others either involve teams that would be locked into their seed by then, or eliminated.
Washington and Dallas is the most attractive game on the calendar, and would seem to be the safest and clearest choice. Jerry Jones may just be campaigning to avoid the primetime final slot.
[photo via USA Today Sports Images]