Unlike the original SNL cast, the New York Jets are ready for prime time on NBC
NBC once directed its airwaves away from a game between the New York Jets and the Las Vegas Raiders franchise. Over 50 years later, however, it seems that it has learned its lesson from 1968’s “Heidi Bowl.”
ESPN’s Adam Schefter confirmed that the Jets’ Nov. 12 showdown against the Raiders in Las Vegas will remain stationed in its regularly scheduled 8:20 p.m. ET slot, closing out the NFL’s Sunday slate for Week 10. When flexing games out of Sunday night spots, the NFL and broadcasters must conjure a replacement no less than 12 days before kickoff.
The game at Allegiant Stadium will be the Jets’ second appearance on NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” package this season, marking the first time they’ve appeared in multiple such games since 2011. Both of this year’s showings came against AFC West competition, as they previously appeared in the Week 4 edition to open October, which produced a controversial loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
It’s perhaps surprising to see NBC stick with Jets-Raiders especially considering what’s transpired in Sin City: the Raiders (3-5) have dropped five of their past seven since an opening day win in Denver and are working through two major shake-ups.
Following a 26-14 loss to Detroit on Monday night, Las Vegas parted ways with second-year head coach and frequent Jets nemesis Josh McDaniels. The Raiders also benched franchise quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo in favor of fourth-round rookie Aidan O’Connell, who will work under the direction of interim boss Antonio Pierce, McDaniels’ immediate successor. Pierce will make his debut against one of his former employers on Sunday when the Raiders host the New York Giants (4:25 p.m. ET, Fox).
Anyone hoping for a change should also be aware that the potential replacements left a lot to be desired: the division-leading Chiefs, Miami Dolphins, and Philadelphia Eagles are all off and the biggest matchups of the day (San Francisco at Jacksonville, Cleveland at Baltimore) were likely protected by Fox.
Flexible scheduling was introduced to the NFL in 2006 in the name of putting attractive matchups in prime time slots. The Jets’ past dozen years of futility have made them frequent victims of the process, as the aforementioned loss to the Chiefs marked their first Sunday night game since 2011 (and first game on NBC since their 2012 Thanksgiving debacle). While flexible scheduling has exclusively applied to NBC’s games, adjustments made over the offseason allow the leagues to flex both Monday and Thursday night games as well.
There’s no denying, however, that the Jets linger as one of the more intriguing stories in the NFL as the second half of the regular season looms. Despite losing Aaron Rodgers to a Week 1 injury, the Jets (4-3) are in the thick of the AFC playoff hunt thanks to a three-game winning streak and the efforts of young stars like Breece Hall, Sauce Gardner, and Garrett Wilson. As it stands, they’re engaged in a four-way tie for the last two Wild Card spots though they’d lose tiebreakers to Pittsburgh and Cleveland (while beating out Cincinnati due to a better winning percentage in conference games).
The Jets have also been one of the most-watched teams this season: Gang Green has partaken in the most-watched game in three of the eight weeks so far, including Week 2 (at Dallas), Week 4 (vs. Kansas City), and Week 6 (vs. Philadelphia).
Locked into Week 10’s night game and set to host the next Monday nighter against the Los Angeles Chargers (8:15 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN), the Jets will play consecutive games in exclusive prime time windows for the first time since 2014. That occasion was not scheduled, as they played consecutive Monday nighters thanks to snowstorms in Western New York displacing a Buffalo tilt to Detroit before they hosted Miami. The last planned occurrence was in 2011 when a Sunday nighter against New England led to a Thursday visit to Denver.
Geoff Magliocchetti is on X @GeoffJMags
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