The 6-3 Tampa Bay Buccaneers are becoming must-see television.
After this Sunday's game in San Francisco, the Buccaneers will travel to Baltimore on November 28 to take on the Ravens, who also have a 6-3 record after 10 weeks and are tied for first place in the NFC North. That game was originally scheduled to kick off at 1:00 p.m. ET, but it will now be one of the day's featured late-afternoon games, beginning at 4:15 p.m. ET.
The Bucs-Ravens game was moved as part of the NFL's "flexible scheduling" plan, which in recent years has sought to highlight games with strong playoff implications during the seasons' final seven weeks. The flexible scheduling option officially begins this weekend, but the league did not choose to move any Week 11 games.
Thus, the Tampa Bay-Baltimore and Philadelphia-Chicago games in Week 12 will be the first games to be "flexed" this year. The Eagles and Bears were also originally scheduled to play at 1:00 p.m. ET on November 28 but will now kick off at 4:15 p.m. ET.
Both flexed games will still be broadcast on FOX.
For each of the flexible scheduling weeks with the exception of Week 17, the NFL will announce the start times of games on Sundays no later than 12 days prior to that weekend. To ensure a Sunday night game and doubleheader games with playoff implications in Week 17, the flexible scheduling decision for that Sunday may be made on six days notice.
The Buccaneers' original 2010 schedule called for 14 of the team's games to kick off at 1:00 p.m. ET, with only their two West Coast games – at Arizona and at San Francisco – starting in the four o'clock time slot. It is possible that additional Tampa Bay games will be flexed after Week 12, as the Bucs still have upcoming matchups with such playoff contenders as Atlanta, New Orleans and Seattle.