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Patriots-Steelers among games possibly impacted by NFL’s new flex scheduling rule

The NFL owners voted 24-8 in favor of adding a select group of Thursday Night Football games to the flex schedule.

New England Patriots v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

NFL ownership voted to expand the scope of flex scheduling, and the New England Patriots’ road game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 14 might be impacted as a result. Thursday night games such as this, after all, are now also subject to being moved.

The NFL originally introduced flex scheduling back in 2006, giving networks the opportunity to shift prime time games around based on perceived attractiveness. Factors such as playoff importance will influence the decision to move one game on the schedule to another spot within the same week.

Originally, Thursday Night Football was not part of this rule. On Monday, however, NFL owners voted 24-8 in favor of also adding it to the mix.

Resolution JC-6 defines how the flex-scheduling process will work, and there are a few ground rules covering the process. For starters, only Weeks 13 to 17 will be subject to seeing contests potentially shift from Thursday night to Sunday afternoon and vice versa. This means that the following five games — plus their equivalents later in the same week — are not fully set in stone just yet:

The decision to move games will have to be made 28 days in advance. Resolution JC-6 also states that only two Thursday night games can be flexed per season.

Additionally, no team can be moved more than once. If the Patriots and Steelers get flexed out of their Week 14 Thursday slot, for example, neither can be flexed back into one of the spots in Weeks 15-17.

Furthermore, a club is not permitted to participate in more than two Thursday night games per season. At the moment, the game in Pittsburgh is the only TNF game on the Patriots’ regular season schedule for 2023.

The decision to expand flex scheduling to also include Thursday games is a controversial one. Eight teams — the maximum possible — decided to vote against the resolution: according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the New York Giants, Green Bay Packers, Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Cincinnati Bengals , Las Vegas Raiders, New York Jets, and Pittsburgh Steelers all came out opposed to the change.

“Flexible scheduling, as it is, is really inconsiderate to our season-ticket holders and the people who fill our stadiums every week,” said Giants co-owner John Mara, via the New York Post’s Paul Schwartz.

The Patriots, whose owner Robert Kraft is part of the NFL media committee, voted in favor of adopting the resolution.