5 things to know about 2023 NFL scheduling changes
The NFL is set to release its 2023 schedule Thursday, but there will be some notable changes this season.
Here are five things to know ahead of the NFL schedule release:
Flexing for Monday nights
Arguably the most significant change this season is the introduction of flexible scheduling on Monday nights.
Flex scheduling was introduced in 2006 for "Sunday Night Football" games to ensure quality matchups throughout the season and allowing surprise teams the opportunity to play their way into a prime-time slot.
Beginning this season, flex scheduling will be expanded to include "Monday Night Football" games.
Under the new flex scheduling, only Sunday afternoon games are eligible to be moved to Sunday night or Monday night. "Thursday Night Football" games are exempt, although NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said that could change in the future.
Flex scheduling for "Sunday Night Football" may only take place twice between weeks five and 10 of the NFL season. It is subject to the NFL's discretion during weeks 11 through 17.
No Monday night games are subject to being flexed until week 13.
The NFL will continue to leave the kickoff days and times for the final week of the regular season unassigned until no later than six days prior to that week's Saturday game, which will be Jan. 6, 2024.
Any game flexed out of the Sunday night or Monday night slot would be moved to Sunday afternoon.
As in previous seasons, kickoffs for Sunday afternoon games are subject to change from the early (1 p.m.) or late (4 p.m.) broadcast windows on CBS or Fox.
Double dose of Thursday nights
NFL owners approved a rule allowing teams to play two Thursday night games on short weeks.
That means the NFL may now schedule teams for "Thursday Night Football" games after a Sunday game on two occasions during the season. Previously, a team could only play one Thursday night game after playing on a Sunday.
Although "Thursday Night Football" games will be locked in once the schedule is released, it's possible that a team could wind up playing three Thursday games, including Thanksgiving.
The Thursday night opener on NBC also doesn't apply under this rule since it's not played on a short week.
No more prime-time promises
Fans of teams that are struggling to win games may find themselves out of luck when it comes to seeing their team on national television.
Gone is the promise of prime-time exposure for every NFL team.
This will be the first season that at least one prime-time game won't be a guarantee for all 32 teams.
However, teams will still be limited to no more than seven prime-time games during the regular season.
It's the most wonderful time of the year
The NFL is going all in on holiday schedule this season with more games during the extended Thanksgiving and Christmas weekends.
"Black Friday" won't be just for shoppers and college football fans in 2023.
The NFL will stage its first-ever game on the Friday after Thanksgiving, which will be part of the exclusive Amazon Prime Video "Thursday Night Football" streaming package.
Kickoff is scheduled for 3 p.m.
That's in addition to the usual tripleheader of games on Thanksgiving in the early afternoon, late afternoon and evening.
Last year the NFL scheduled three games on Christmas for the first time. According to NBC's Peter King, it'll be more of the same this Christmas, only with an added twist.
Because Christmas is on a Monday in 2023, this will be the first Monday tripleheader in NFL history.
The NFL has scheduled games on Christmas every year since 1989.
Network free agency
Sunday afternoon games will feel like the wild, wild west in 2023.
That's because the NFL has done away with network designations starting this season.
CBS has traditionally been the home for the AFC television package, while Fox has been the network home for NFC games.
With few exceptions, the road team for Sunday afternoon games has dictated which network a team would be assigned. Games with an AFC road team would go to CBS and games with an NFC road team would go to Fox.
But now that the NFL has scrapped the network designation and its rule about how many times a team can be taken from its conference's home network, all games have essentially become free agents.
That means the Miami Dolphins, who play in the AFC East Division, could make more than just a handful of appearances on Fox this season.
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