NFL can really flex muscles in Week 17

To those waiting for the NFL to announce its flex scheduling plan for the final week of the regular season, you will have to wait a little longer. Deciding which contest is chosen for the Sunday night prime-time game on NBC normally is done 12 days prior to the game — meaning today would be the day to learn who will close out the 2008 regular season (there is no Monday night game in Week 17).

However, the flex scheduling rule is, well, flexible for the final week. To ensure the season ends with a meaningful game, the NFL does not have to make the final flex decision until after this Sunday’s games.

If the decision had to be made today, it’s hard to imagine the Week 17 Sunday night game wouldn’t be Dolphins-Jets, with Chad Pennington returning to the Meadowlands for a game that could decide the AFC East title.

But what if both of those teams lose in Week 16, and the Patriots take control of the division? What if Denver fails to clinch the AFC West this week, and the Broncos-Chargers game becomes a winner-take-all?

The other two games of Week 17 that could have huge playoff implications for both teams are Giants at Vikings and Cowboys at Eagles. While those games are in play, keep this in mind: Through the first six weeks of the flex scheduling, five of the six games tabbed for Sunday night were FOX games.

So nothing will be set until after the Week 16 games, but you can probably draw your own conclusions based on those results.

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