The 49ers-Seahawks game was moved after the NFL implemented “flexible scheduling,” which allows the league to move the time slots of what it believes will be the most-watched game on Sunday. Flexible scheduling can only be used in Weeks 11 through 17, according to the NFL’s communications department.
“Flexible scheduling will ensure quality matchups in all NFL Sunday time slots in those weeks and give teams a chance to play their way onto primetime and into the late-afternoon 4:25 PM ET time slot on CBS and FOX,” the league said on its website.
The primetime 49ers-Seahawks game replaces the originally scheduled Chargers-Jets matchup in the coveted 8 p.m. Sunday slot. Chargers-Jets now kicks off at 1 p.m. EST Dec. 23.
As the NFL enters the final portion of the season, playoff scenarios are starting to take shape, which makes the 49ers-Seahawks game a more attractive option for nationwide NFL viewers.
San Francisco is in the driver’s seat in the NFC West and can clinch the division with a win this week. But the Seahawks are also in the thick of playoff contention, and would be the NFC East’s No. 5 seed if the playoffs started today. If the 49ers lose this week, the upcoming matchup with Seattle will be even more intriguing.
Behind rookie quarterback Russell Wilson, Seattle has won four of their last five games and sits at 8-5.
Neither the Jets nor San Diego are mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, but both teams have to overcome improbable odds to make it to the postseason. And those odds may be zilch when Dec. 23 rolls around.
The Jets have a better shot at the playoffs at 6-7, but need help to make the playoffs. San Diego is worse off at 5-8 and is all but eliminated form postseason play.
The ripple in the scheduling also moved the Giants-Ravens game to 4:25 p.m. EST. New York has the lead in the NFC East at 8-5, but is trying to fend off both Washington and Dallas, with both teams only a game behind the Giants at 7-6.