When the Philadelphia Eagles edged out a victory over the Los Angeles Rams in a Week 14 thriller last season, many anticipated (and hoped) that there would be a postseason rematch. While it never came to fruition, the NFL’s schedule announcement in April showed that the rematch would be a Week 15 prime time game on NBC’s Sunday Night Football.
Back in April, this was expected to be one of the biggest non-divisional games of the season. The Rams were coming off a remarkable season that ended prematurely and the Eagles had high expectations coming off a Super Bowl victory 2 months prior.
Now 13 weeks into the season, the Rams as advertised at 11-1. The Eagles, however, are 6-6 and a long shot to make the playoffs. The NFL has the ability to “flex” games in and out of the Sunday Night Football time slot to ensure a more highly anticipated game gets the audience it warrants. The league announced that the Rams and Eagles will be staying in the prime time slot despite the minimal playoff implications.
PFT’s Josh Alper offers some rationale behind the decision, suggesting that any other game with mass appeal is already in a prime time slot or protected by the broadcast slated to show it:
There are some other appealing games on the slate for Week 15, but the Chiefs and Chargers will be playing on Thursday night while the Saints and Panthers will square off on Monday night. Neither of those games could have been flexed and CBS almost certainly protected the Patriots-Steelers tilt at 4:25 p.m. ET on Sunday afternoon.
Beyond what it means for the playoffs, this game also features the top two picks of the 2016 draft, quarterbacks Jared Goff and Carson Wentz. These two will be compared to each other throughout their careers and these games could potentially do what the Peyton Manning-Tom Brady games did for their legacies and rivalry.