As of writing, the Green Bay Packers are scheduled to take on the Pittsburgh Steelers under the big lights for Sunday Night Football on November 26th. Brett Hundley would take the field without his best supporting-piece in Aaron Jones, a bruised-up offensive line, and another low-key bad Packers defense. The Steelers struggled with an Indianapolis Colts team led by Jacoby Brissett and Scott Tolzien, the two passers taking turns in and out of the lineup as Brissett was checked and re-checked for concussion symptoms.
Make no mistake: these are two bad teams on a collision course for bad ratings and a disservice to fans. No one wants this game to enter the national spotlight. The Steelers have an inevitable playoff defeat in Foxborough awaiting them, while the Packers are limping into the darkness of a wasted 7-9 season (can’t relate).
Fortunately for the NFL, a painfully obvious alternative is waiting for them. That same day, the New Orleans Saints will be visiting the Los Angeles Rams for a heavyweight bout carrying all kinds of playoff implications. Two of the hottest teams in the NFL, one of them featuring a future Hall of Famer (Drew Brees, duh) and the other built around three talented young stars (defensive tackle Aaron Donald, running back Todd Gurley, and quarterback Jared Goff).
The NFL has invested millions of dollars into promoting the Rams, featuring them on reality-TV specials like Hard Knocks (HBO), All Or Nothing (Amazon Prime), and Hollywood & Football (E!, apparently). Their move back to L.A. has been talked-up and -down all over the place, and capitalizing on it with a huge game in prime time may just put the Rams over the top.
Both teams are 7-2 and setting the pace for their respective divisions. The purging of Jeff Fisher’s coaching staff has revitalized the Rams and turned around a disastrous early career for Goff. The Saints are finally seeing the fruits of their own labors through smart team-building decisions and look like the best team in the NFL.
Look at the matchups: Wade Phillips designing pressure packages around Aaron Donald, Destroyer of Worlds, against a stellar Saints offensive line with all five starters healthy - and Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara. Marshon Lattimore manning up with Sammy Watkins. The Saints’ feisty defensive line squaring up to Gurley and a Rams offensive line that so far hasn’t been challenged.
Throwing the two teams together just makes too much sense. NFL Media writer Gregg Rosenthal has been campaigning for weeks for the NFL to #flexNOLA and get the Saints and Rams into the national view together.
So if the NFL is smart (fingers crossed), they’ll do the right thing and flex this game into the top of Sunday’s slate. After three weeks of seeing Jay Cutler mope around night games in a battered Miami Dolphins jersey, it’s the least they can do.
If Saints-Rams were to be flexed to SNF, NFL would have to let teams know by tomorrow at latest. Unlikely league would flex out of 5-4 Packers at 7-2 Steelers, even though both Rams & Saints are 7-2.— Sam Farmer (@LATimesfarmer) November 13, 2017
Flexing Eagles at Rams on Dec. 10 is far more likely.