Remember when the Sunday night Flex Schedule was implemented to ensure competitive matchups down the playoff stretch? No? Well don’t feel bad, apparently the NFL forgot too.
The league’s decision to move the week 17 Cincinnati/New York game to Sunday night is absurd. Simply put, the NFL whiffed … big time. I’ve read several columnists (Peter King, Mike Florio among others) who’ve defended the game as the correct choice. I couldn’t disagree more. (In fact, the last time my head traveled east to west so many times in a three hour period was during a ping-pong match.) While none of their reasoning made sense, it generally fell under these three categories. I’ve also taken the liberty of refuting each argument. Here we go.
- The game will be compelling due to the win-and-in scenario for the Jets.
Do NFL fans find preseason games intriguing? No. Unless the Texans shock the Patriots, that’s exactly what Al Michaels and Chris Collinsworth will be calling on Sunday night. A New England win locks Cincinnati in at the four seed. Sure, the Jets will have a playoff spot on the line, but they won’t have a legitimate NFL football team standing between them and that spot. Actually, now that I think about it, even if the Pats lose Sunday afternoon, I still don’t see the Bengals playing their starters for more than a half. Why? Because falling to the Jets in week 17 allows the Bengals to host the Jets in the Wildcard round. If I’m Cincinnati, I’d rather play New York next weekend than Baltimore, Denver, or Pittsburgh. To conclude, the NFL made a dumb call. The Bengals will tank Sunday night’s contest on purpose (regardless of the afternoon’s events) because they control who they’ll play next weekend. The Jets are the preferred opponent.
- Playoff atmosphere
Correction, August atmosphere. Cincinnati’s second and third stringers will see plenty of time this Sunday. I’d even argue that the Baltimore/Oakland game will contain more intensity. At least their best players will be on the field. Although, if the NFL really wanted a playoff atmosphere, they’d have selected the battle for the NFC East. Yes, I am a homer, but you know I’m right. Neither Philadelphia nor Dallas will surrender this game and voluntarily travel on Wildcard weekend. Furthermore, depending on how the pieces fall, the winner could receive a first round bye. Hmm, let’s think this one through. A division title and a home playoff game will definitely be at stake. Two bitter division rivals pitted against one another. The possibility of a first round bye on the line. Yeh, you’re right. No playoff atmosphere in Dallas on Sunday. The Jets vs. version B and C of the Bengals will boast a superior atmosphere (shaking my head in total disapproval).
- It’s the final game at Giants Stadium
Really? Does this matter? The Jets were always second fiddle in Giants stadium anyway. Hence the name, GIANTS STADIUM. Come on.
There. I’ve made my peace. It’s over, I’m moving on. I can’t wait to watch Mark Sanchez throw six interceptions while Chad Ochocinco , Carson Palmer, and the Bengals’ defense chill on the sideline. Woohoo. Thank you, NFL. Instead of ending the 2009 regular season with a bang, we’ll be treated to a big thud. Happy New Year to you too.