Why The NFL Flexed Bears-Eagles Over Patriots-Ravens

At first glance, it was a surprise. The NFL wants America to see McCown-Foles over Brady-Flacco? But the league has a good reason for flexing Bears-Eagles to Sunday Night Football for Week 16: the freedom to choose the perfect Week 17 game. (Also, the fact that Bears-Eagles is going to be awesome.)

SBJ's John Ourand, via PFT, reports that the culprit is a clause in the league's television contracts. Neither CBS nor FOX enjoy seeing the best games on their schedules taken away for primetime, so the contracts mandate that the difference between the number of games flexed from each network must always be three or fewer. Flexing Pats-Ravens would have put the difference between CBS and FOX at exactly three, thereby eliminating AFC match-ups as possibilities for Sunday Night Football in Week 17.

Among those potential important games are Ravens-Bengals and Jets-Dolphins. The league wants to keep its options open.

New England-Baltimore on Dec. 22 would have been great for SNF—the Pats are eyeing home-field advantage, while the defending champs are fighting just for a playoff spot. But even forgetting the pressures of TV contracts, Chicago-Philly will be better in almost every way.

Yes, so much could go wrong in his future, but this might be your first chance to get a look at one of the league's most promising young quarterbacks in Nick Foles. If he goes on to turn into something, an NBC game could be his coming-out party. Assuming Jay Cutler doesn't come back (we love Jay, but sort of hope he doesn't), Josh McCown's emergence is one of the best stories in the NFL right now. Both teams have big-play offenses, and don't do much on defense. It should be a shootout, it should be close, and you'll get countless crowd shots of Eagles fans.

And what if it snows! Week 16 can't get here fast enough.