NBC Sports writer Peter King provided an interesting note about the “regular-season game of the year,” Kansas City Chiefs at Baltimore Ravens, in his weekly “Football Morning in America” column on Monday.
King explained that the NFL did ESPN a “big solid” in giving them Patrick Mahomes vs. Lamar Jackson on “Monday Night Football”
KING: Regular-season game of the year: Kansas City-Baltimore. Mahomes-Jackson. AFC rights-holder CBS really wanted it. CBS, having lost the game’s biggest drawing cards (Peyton Manning and Tom Brady) in the last five years, was the favorite; NBC, the biggest TV draw in the NFL, really wanted it for Sunday night. ESPN really wanted it for Monday night. ESPN got it. Why? Those in the TV business are convinced it’s because ESPN has come up so big for the NFL in the last two months—treating free agency as a big-league sport in the opening days of the coronavirus, then choreographing the most popular draft in NFL history by seamlessly merging with NFL Network and turning the glitzy draft into the feel-good sports story of the pandemic—from the ESPN studios in Connecticut. Giving the best game of the year to ESPN was a back-pat from the league.
This is likely at least part of the reason that the Chiefs’ Week 12 matchup against Brady’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers and their Week 15 matchup against Drew Brees’ New Orleans Saints did not get the primetime nod.
Both games — set for 3:25 p.m. Arrowhead Time (full schedule here) — could serve as consolation prizes for missing out on the early premiere matchup, though one of them could be flexed to “Sunday Night Football” on NBC.
According to the Washington Post, “starting in Week 11, Fox and CBS can protect one game in five of the next six weeks, keeping those games in their Sunday afternoon time slots. They cannot protect any games in Week 17.”
The Chiefs already have a maximum of five scheduled primetime games. They can be flexed to one more. As of this writing, it is a good bet that Brady-Mahomes or Brees-Mahomes will be moved to primetime, the other protected for the late afternoon.