For all the fanfare about NBC’s flexible scheduling, it will end up having a very modest impact this season.
For the first six weeks when flex scheduling is an option, only one game (Chargers-Jets on Dec. 23) will end up being replaced. 49ers-Seahawks and Saints-Cowboys are possibilities that Sunday. Giants-Ravens and Bengals-Steelers were reportedly protected by Fox and CBS that day, and cannot be moved to NBC.
ESPN, without a Monday-night flex option, is stuck with a dismal Jets-Titans game on Dec. 17. There’s no Monday-night game the final two weeks of the season. To avoid scheduling a game on Christmas Eve, the NFL gave ESPN the Falcons-Lions game on Saturday, Dec. 22.
AROUND THE DIAL
• Inexcusable: With eight ongoing early games in Week 12, DirecTV’s GameMix channel used two of the eight available boxes to show a graphic of the teams playing in the 4 p.m. games. Then in Week 13, with four late games ongoing, GameMix showed only two. Sunday Ticket has had far too many snafus this season.
• Best pinch-hit appearance: With Brian Billick sidelined by back problems, Charles Davis, who worked a UCLA-Stanford game for Fox in Week 12, took a red eye to fill in for Billick on the Falcons-Buccaneers game.
• Nobody butchers names in highlights more than CBS’s Dan Marino. He called Jacksonville’s Rashad Jennings two names, neither correct: Rashard Jennings and Reshad Jenkins, then referred to Arizona QB Ryan Lindley as “Leyland,” and Colts TE Coby Fleener as “Fleenery.”
• CBS’s coverage of the Javon Belcher murder/suicide was better than Fox’s because Lesley Visser had a live interview with Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt, who revealed he rejected several Chiefs players’ request to wear a decal in Belcher’s honor because “it was not appropriate to honor just one and not the other” who died.
• NBC’s Al Michaels said, “Don’t know if any player is as important to his team as Ben Roethlisberger is to the Steelers.” But can’t the same be said for any of the league’s top quarterbacks?
• As is annually the case, the CBS analysts started blushing and giggling like children when the network had a Victoria Secret’s model on its Week 13 pregame show to promote an upcoming prime-time special. Model Lily Aldridge, asked to predict games, picked the Redskins over the Giants because “I have this feeling.” OK, then.
• Why did former Rams WR Torry Holt hold up his middle finger to the camera during his Week 13 guest appearance on Showtime’s “Inside the NFL”? Holt was letting viewers seeing his crooked finger, mangled from years of catching passes.
• Instead of unequivocally saying what he would or wouldn’t do, Fox’s Troy Aikman has the habit of cushioning his criticism with clumsy diction. On the 49ers’ decision to play Colin Kaepernick, he said: “It’s a decision I don’t necessarily disagree with.” Why not just say: “It’s a decision I agree with”?
Then Aikman said he “would not have been as accommodating as Alex Smith was” after being demoted, but never explained what he meant.
• After the Bills’ Leodis McKelvin returned a punt for a touchdown against the Dolphins in Week 11, NFL Network’s Mike Mayock said, “I talked to three different coaches in the league who told me the guy was about to break one.” So why didn’t he say that before the return?