NFL Changes Week 17 Schedule, Cancels ‘Sunday Night Football’ New Year’s Eve Game

NFL, Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers
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In Week 17, Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers can clinch the NFC South and a first-round bye in the playoffs

The final week of the NFL season is Sunday, Dec. 31, and the league has shuffled around its schedule for New Year’s Eve.

In an effort to avoid a meaningless and probably very low-rated Sunday Night Football matchup on NBC, the NFL has canceled the primetime game and shifted all start times to 1pm ET and 4:25pm ET.

“We felt that both from a competitive standpoint and from a fan perspective, the most fair thing to do is to schedule all Week 17 games in either the 1pm or 4:25pm ET windows,” says NFL Senior Vice President of Broadcasting Howard Katz. “This ensures that we do not have a matchup on Sunday Night Football on New Year’s Eve that because of earlier results has no playoff implications for one or both of the competing teams.”

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Entering Week 17, nine of the 12 playoff teams have been determined and all but one of the eight division titles have been clinched.

In the AFC, the New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers, Jacksonville Jaguars and Kansas City Chiefs have clinched their divisions. The Patriots and Steelers will be playing for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, while the Baltimore Ravens, Tennessee Titans, L.A. Chargers and Buffalo Bills are looking for wild-card berths.

In the NFC, the Philadelphia Eagles, Minnesota Vikings and L.A. Rams have clinched their divisions. The Eagles have clinched home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, while the Vikings can clinch a first-round bye. The New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers have clinched playoff berths, with the AFC South champion to be determined. Still alive for the second wild-card spot are the Atlanta Falcons and the Seattle Seahawks.

(All times Eastern.)
Sunday, Dec. 31
Green Bay at Detroit, 1pm (FOX)
Houston at Indianapolis, 1pm (CBS)
Chicago at Minnesota, 1pm (FOX)
N.Y. Jets at New England, 1pm (CBS)
Washington at N.Y. Giants, 1pm (FOX)
Dallas at Philadelphia, 1pm (FOX)
Cleveland at Pittsburgh, 1pm (CBS)
Carolina at Atlanta, 4:25pm (FOX)
Cincinnati at Baltimore, 4:25pm (CBS)
Kansas City at Denver, 4:25pm (CBS)
Oakland at L.A. Chargers, 4:25pm (CBS)
San Francisco at L.A. Rams, 4:25pm (FOX)
Buffalo at Miami, 4:25pm (CBS)
Arizona at Seattle, 4:25pm (FOX)
New Orleans at Tampa Bay, 4:25pm (FOX)
Jacksonville at Tennessee, 4:25pm (CBS)