It’s usually the Dallas Cowboys dominating the slate of prime-time games for the NFL. There are often seasons when, even if they’re not winning a lot of games, their brand alone has warranted and pulled in droves of viewers. Things are precipitously different in 2020, as they’ve tailspun to a 3-9 record and are fresh off of a prime-time humiliation at the hands of the Baltimore Ravens. Only 12 hours after that 34-17 loss at M&T Bank Stadium, the NFL has decided to flex the Cowboys out of prime time — and not into it, as is often the case.
Their Week 15 matchup with the San Francisco 49ers that was originally set to take place on NBC’s «Sunday Night Football» will now instead kick off at 1 p.m. ET, and the prime-time slot will now feature the New York Giants taking on the Cleveland Browns — two surging teams making a run at the playoffs.
If you predicted before the season the the Cowboys and 49ers would be ousted for the Giants and Browns, buy yourself more lottery tickets, because this isn’t anything anyone predicted.
Heading into 2020, both Dallas and San Francisco — the latter coming off of an appearance in the Super Bowl — were expected to be heavily involved atop the NFC. Both have suffered a slew of season-ending injuries to cornerstone players, but while the 49ers have at least remained competitive at 5-7, the wheels have essentially fallen off for the Cowboys.
Contrarily, the Giants are winners of four straight and that includes pulling off a massive upset when they defeated the Seattle Seahawks in Week 13, planting them firmly atop the NFC East at the moment. And while the Browns were again an NFL afterthought before September, aside from the usual list of headlines, they’ve come alive under newly installed head coach Kevin Stefanski, owners of a 9-3 record with a chance to overtake the Pittsburgh Steelers for the AFC North crown with four games left to play. So as far as interesting games go, it’s a no-brainer the NFL would flex the Giants-Browns matchup to prime time and hide the Cowboys-49ers bout in the early afternoon slate.
While Jerry Jones won’t like it, the fact is it’s business, and the business of winning games isn’t currently booming in Dallas.