NFL flexes Chargers-Steelers, Rams-Bears matchups to Sunday night in December

The NFL has flexed once again, saving the nation from not one, but two disastrous games on NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” by replacing them with two games between playoff contenders.

On Wednesday, the NFL announced that the Chargers-Steelers game in Week 13 has been flexed to Sunday night (Dec. 2), taking the place of 49ers-Seahawks, while the Rams-Bears game will replace Steelers-Raiders on Sunday night in Week 14 (Dec. 9). Per the announcement, the 49ers-Seahawks and Steelers-Raiders games will move to 4:25 p.m. ET on Fox on their respective Sundays. 

We can now look forward to two intriguing games between teams that are jockeying for playoff spots instead of two lackluster games. Put it this way: The combined record of the four teams previously scheduled for primetime is 13-23-1. The combined record of the four teams now scheduled for primetime is 28-8-1.

At 7-2, the Chargers are only one loss behind the Chiefs in the AFC West while controlling the top wild card spot. The Steelers, meanwhile, have risen to 6-2-1 with a five-game winning streak that has turned them into legitimate contenders. On paper, it should be one of the best games of the month. 

And it’s certainly better than 49ers-Seahawks with the 49ers just trying to fast forward to the beginning of next season, when Jimmy Garoppolo should return from the torn ACL that ended his and their season. As a result, two of their primetime games have now been taken away from them. The Seahawks have actually been a fun, sneaky good team even if their record doesn’t indicate it, but that just means they’d likely beat up on the 49ers in primetime.

Rams-Bears is an intriguing matchup because both teams are on track to secure a playoff spot in the NFC and because the Bears have been considered the 2018 version of the 2017 Rams with their first-year, offensive-minded coach and second-year quarterback who is taking the next step in his development. For the Bears, who were also flexed to “Sunday Night Football” for Week 11, the league’s desire to put them on the national stage is a sign that they’ve finally emerged from a lengthy rebuild with a dangerous and therefore, entertaining team. 

The Steelers-Raiders game getting flexed out of primetime is a no-brainer. It’ll probably be a bloodbath as the Raiders stumble toward the top pick in the draft and the Steelers head toward the postseason. The Ryan Switzer revenge game just doesn’t quite have quite as much appeal as Rams-Bears. 

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