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NFL Flex Scheduling: Breaking down the new rules for the 2023 regular season

Taking a look at some new, and some existing, flex scheduling rules for the NFL in 2023.

Super Bowl LVII - Kansas City Chiefs v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

The NFL just released their 2023 regular season schedule last week, and fans of all 32 teams are pouring over their favorite team’s schedule looking at the new dates.

While some just want to see when the team plays, other are more interested in attending games in-person. What used to be a very simple procedure of buying tickets and attending the game changed in 2006 when the NFL first implemented “Flex Scheduling”. During that time, the league had the ability to move games into the Sunday Night Football window to ensure they had the very best matchups on prime time.

Since then, the flexible scheduling procedures have changed. Let’s take a look at the current protocols for “Flex Scheduling” which now include Monday Night Football as being potentially flexed:

Current Flexible Scheduling Procedures

Flexible scheduling is in effect during the following windows (the “Flex Scheduling Windows”):

  • For Sunday Night Football, it may be used up to twice between Weeks 5-10, and in the NFL’s discretion during Weeks 11 - 17;
  • For Monday Night Football it may be used in the NFL’s discretion in Weeks 12 – 17.
  • The games initially scheduled for Sunday Night Football (on NBC) and Monday Night Football (ESPN or ABC) are tentatively scheduled and subject to change;
  • Only Sunday afternoon games (or those listed as TBD) are eligible to be moved to Sunday night or Monday night, in which case the initially scheduled Sunday/Monday night game would be moved to Sunday afternoon;
  • Sunday afternoon games may also be moved between 1:00 p.m. and 4:05 p.m. or 4:25 p.m. ET.

For the final week of the regular season there are even more protocols as the NFL will look at all the possible matchups and choose the best one, most likely a win-and-in situation among two teams, to put in the prime time slot. Here is how that process breaks down.

Scheduling for Week 18

  • As in prior seasons, for Week 18, the final weekend of the season, the scheduling of the Saturday, Sunday afternoon, and the Sunday night games is not assigned. The schedule for Week 18 will be announced no later than six days prior to that week’s Saturday game (January 6, 2024).

There is more to “Flex Scheduling” that the aforementioned information, but one thing to note is how the potential of flexing Thursday Night Football games has not been approved by the league. It was brought up at the most recent league meetings, but was tabled until the next meeting.

Nonetheless, here is more information on how the league could, and will, proceed with flexing games out of their current time slot.

Additional Flexible Scheduling Information

  • During the Flex Scheduling Windows, only Sunday afternoon or TBD games are subject to being moved into the Sunday night or Monday night window.
  • The game that has been tentatively scheduled for Sunday Night Football or Monday Night Football during the Flex Scheduling Windows will generally be listed at 8:20 p.m. ET and 8:15 p.m. ET, respectively.
  • The majority of games on Sundays will typically be listed at 1:00 p.m. ET during the Flex Scheduling Windows except for games played in Pacific or Mountain time zones, which will be listed at 4:05 or 4:25 p.m. ET.
  • For Sunday nights in Weeks 5 - 13 and for Monday nights in Weeks 12 - 17, the NFL will decide (after consultation with CBS, FOX, NBC, and ESPN) and announce no later than 12 days in advance of the game, which game will be played on Sunday night and which game will be played on Monday night.
  • For Sunday night in Weeks 14 - 17, the flexible scheduling decision will generally be made no later than 6 days prior to the game.
  • Fans and ticket holders must be aware that NFL games in the Flex Scheduling Windows are subject to change generally at least 12 days in advance (and at least 6 days in advance for Sundays in Weeks 14-17) and should plan accordingly.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers as they prepare for the rest of the NFL offseason.