"Thursday Night Football" will probably have more compelling games on its schedule next season after owners approved a modified proposal that will allow Thursday night games to be flexed between Weeks 13-17, according to NFL Media. Only two flexes are allowed all season, and 28 days notice is required.
The change was approved by a vote of 24-8, per ESPN. The Giants, Jets, Packers, Bears, Raiders, Lions, Bengals and Steelers were the teams who voted against it -- to no avail -- according to Adam Schefter.
The decision came without the support of Raiders owner Mark Davis, who railed against the possibility of Thursday night games being flexed prior to the proposal getting the green light. The main purpose of passing the flex plan is to eliminate Thursday night games between losing teams. The NFL is now permitted to shift Sunday afternoon games to Thursday night from weeks 13-17.
"If you have a Raiders-Chargers game in Las Vegas scheduled for a Thursday," Davis told USA Today, "and all of the fans driving from Los Angeles – the Raiders fans and all three Chargers fans – buy their tickets and book their hotels, how in the hell do you schedule it and now say, 'Sorry, it's now on Sunday?' How in the hell do you do that?"
The ability to flex games isn't the only change regarding "Thursday Night Football." Back in March, the owners approved a rule allowing teams to play two Thursday games on short weeks. That means the league is now permitted to schedule teams for Thursday night games after a previous Sunday game on two occasions during the season. Previously, a team could only play one game on Thursday night after playing Sunday.
The Bears, Steelers, Saints and Jets are each slated play multiple Thursday night games in 2023. Pittsburgh, however, has the benefit of hosting both of their Thursday night games. While he'll be at home for both games, new Steelers cornerback Patrick Peterson isn't a fan of the idea of playing two games on short weeks.
"It's tough enough getting up for the first Thursday night game, better yet another one," Peterson said during a recent edition of the "All Things Covered" podcast featuring Peterson and former Steelers cornerback Bryant McFadden. "I get it. They want to find ways to get ball on TV, but at the end of the day, you've got to think about our bodies. Especially with me being in Year 13, my body doesn't recovery like it used to. ... To have two Thursday Night Football games, I think, is a bit bizarre."
Amazon's first season with "Thursday Night Football" last year drew an average viewership of 9.6 million, according to Neilsen. While that is a solid number, it was a 46 percent decline from the previous season when Thursday night games were broadcast on Fox and NFL Network. Games that did not have significant playoff implications may have contributed to the decline in viewership.