The Kansas City Chiefs organization has undergone an absolute image change over the 10 years of guidance by head coach Andy Reid.
Gone are the days when a primetime matchup would be a spectacle in Kansas City. The Chiefs played in five primetime regular-season games in 2022, six in 2021 and four in 2020.
Kansas City has been a club the league’s fans look to each week as a possibility to be flexed — and it takes a complete and utter in-division disaster for the Chiefs to be flexed out.
This is why it will be important to watch when the league considers altering primetime flex rules, which they intend to do at next week’s league meeting in Phoenix. Here is the report, outlined by Sports Business Journal:
Owners will be asked at next week’s league meetings to approve a flex scheduling plan for late-season Thursday games, sources said. The vote also would relax limits on the number of games each team can play on short rest each season.
Both measures would give schedule-makers more flexibility to avoid meaningless games with sub-.500 teams for Prime’s “TNF” window. Historically, the NFL’s Thursday night package has struggled with these types of low-interest games.
Specifically, the measure awaiting owners would permit the league to:
· Shift Sunday afternoon games to Thursday nights in Weeks 14-17, with 15 days’ notice.
· Schedule teams for Thursday games after a previous Sunday game twice in the same season, up from the current limit of once.
There are plans to begin flex scheduling for “Monday Night Football” after Week 12 in 2023, which — although annoying for clubs’ travel directors — seems OK from a health and safety standpoint, given it provides teams with an extra day of rest.
Many have acknowledged that simply allowing one short-rest week for teams per season has been unsafe enough — but now, some teams would face two. The concerns there could extend beyond safety, bleeding into the realm of competitive advantage (or disadvantage).
In a league where making the playoffs or winning a division often comes down to one or two games, making one team play two short-rest games wouldn’t seem fair. The Chiefs should be concerned about that, considering their recently established consistent level of excellence (and the fact that their quarterback is the league’s most prominent ratings draw).
Let’s take a quick glance at their opponents for next season:
Chiefs’ home opponents: Denver Broncos, Las Vegas Raiders, Los Angeles Chargers, Buffalo Bills, Chicago Bears, Cincinnati Bengals, Detroit Lions, Miami Dolphins and Philadelphia Eagles.
Chiefs’ away opponents: Denver Broncos, Las Vegas Raiders, Los Angeles Chargers, Green Bay Packers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Minnesota Vikings, New England Patriots and New York Jets.
How many possible primetime games do you see?
I count 12 (Broncos twice, Chargers twice, Raiders twice, Bills, Bengals, Dolphins, Eagles, Jaguars, Jets) — not mentioning the probable trip to Germany to “host” the Lions.
Primetime games have proven to be a key to the success of the NFL — but if I’m Clark Hunt and Kansas City, agreeing to put my team at a competitive disadvantage annually would be a hard no for me.