As the 2021 regular season is in the midst of its final weeks, the NFL is propping up a handful of games on the upcoming schedule to give them greater prominence. On Tuesday, the league announced that it has flexed the 49ers vs. Bengals Week 14 matchup and the Packers vs. Ravens game in Week 15 to the late afternoon slate in those respective weeks.
Originally, both of these games were slated to kick off at 1 p.m. ET, but are now going to be in that late window of viewing. Specifically, 49ers-Bengals will kick off at 4:25 p.m. ET on Sunday, Dec. 12 on CBS, while Packers-Ravens will begin at 4:25 pm. ET on Sunday, Dec. 19, and air on FOX.
The NFL routinely moves games around late in the season and gives a bigger audience to those contests that have greater meaning to the overall playoff picture. Coming out of Week 12, the Ravens and Bengals are neck and neck in the AFC North race, sitting at 8-3 and 7-4 on the season, respectfully. After pulling out a win against Cleveland on Sunday, Baltimore is currently the No. 1 seed in the AFC, so it does seem natural that the NFL puts as many eyeballs on these two teams as possible.
The same can be said for both the Packers and 49ers, who would both be in the playoffs if the season ended today. Green Bay is situated as the No. 2 seed in the conference at the moment at 9-3 on the season and the 49ers are clinging on to a wild card spot after jumping above .500 to 6-5 after defeating the Vikings last weekend.
The league also announced that the Saints-Jets game scheduled for Week 14 will remain a 1 p.m. ET kickoff, but will now be broadcasted on CBS after it was originally set to air on FOX.