5 things to know about 2023 NFL scheduling changes

New scheduling rules allow for greater flexibility, better matchups
Closeup view of NFL football with signature of Commissioner Roger Goodell in 2022
Posted at 9:00 AM, May 10, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-10 09:09:02-04

The NFL is set to release its 2023 schedule Thursday, but there will be some notable changes this season.

Here are five things to know ahead of the NFL schedule release:

Flexing for Monday nights

Arguably the most significant change this season is the introduction of flexible scheduling on Monday nights.

Flex scheduling was introduced in 2006 for "Sunday Night Football" games to ensure quality matchups throughout the season and allowing surprise teams the opportunity to play their way into a prime-time slot.

Beginning this season, flex scheduling will be expanded to include "Monday Night Football" games.

ESPN 'Monday Night Football' camera during game in 2022
A television camera showing the "Monday Night Football" logo sits near the field during a game between the New Orleans Saints and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Monday, Dec. 5, 2022, in Tampa, Fla.

Under the new flex scheduling, only Sunday afternoon games are eligible to be moved to Sunday night or Monday night. "Thursday Night Football" games are exempt, although NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said that could change in the future.

Flex scheduling for "Sunday Night Football" may only take place twice between weeks five and 10 of the NFL season. It is subject to the NFL's discretion during weeks 11 through 17.

No Monday night games are subject to being flexed until week 13.


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The NFL will continue to leave the kickoff days and times for the final week of the regular season unassigned until no later than six days prior to that week's Saturday game, which will be Jan. 6, 2024.

Any game flexed out of the Sunday night or Monday night slot would be moved to Sunday afternoon.

As in previous seasons, kickoffs for Sunday afternoon games are subject to change from the early (1 p.m.) or late (4 p.m.) broadcast windows on CBS or Fox.

Double dose of Thursday nights

NFL owners approved a rule allowing teams to play two Thursday night games on short weeks.

That means the NFL may now schedule teams for "Thursday Night Football" games after a Sunday game on two occasions during the season. Previously, a team could only play one Thursday night game after playing on a Sunday.

Cameraman at 'Thursday Night Football' game with Prime Video logo
A TV camera with the Amazon Prime Video "Thursday Night Football" logo is seen during the first half of an NFL game between the Chicago Bears and Washington Commanders, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022, in Chicago.

Although "Thursday Night Football" games will be locked in once the schedule is released, it's possible that a team could wind up playing three Thursday games, including Thanksgiving.

The Thursday night opener on NBC also doesn't apply under this rule since it's not played on a short week.

No more prime-time promises

Fans of teams that are struggling to win games may find themselves out of luck when it comes to seeing their team on national television.

Gone is the promise of prime-time exposure for every NFL team.

NBC 'Sunday Night Football' trailer for 2022 Miami Dolphins at Los Angeles Chargers game
The NBC Sports trailer for the network's "Sunday Night Football" broadcast is viewed before a game between the Los Angeles Chargers and the Miami Dolphins on Dec. 11, 2022, in Inglewood, Calif.

This will be the first season that at least one prime-time game won't be a guarantee for all 32 teams.

However, teams will still be limited to no more than seven prime-time games during the regular season.

It's the most wonderful time of the year

The NFL is going all in on holiday scheduling this season with more games during the extended Thanksgiving and Christmas weekends.

"Black Friday" won't be just for shoppers and college football fans in 2023.

The NFL will stage its first-ever game on the Friday after Thanksgiving, which will be part of the exclusive Amazon Prime Video "Thursday Night Football" streaming package.

Kickoff is scheduled for 3 p.m.

'Thursday Night Football' cameraman works during 2022 Indianapolis Colts at Denver Broncos game
An Amazon Prime "Thursday Night Football" cameraman works during a game between the Denver Broncos and the Indianapolis Colts, Thursday, Oct. 7, 2022, in Denver.

That's in addition to the usual tripleheader of games on Thanksgiving in the early afternoon, late afternoon and evening.

Last year the NFL scheduled three games on Christmas for the first time. According to NBC's Peter King, it'll be more of the same this Christmas, only with an added twist.

Because Christmas is on a Monday in 2023, this will be the first Monday tripleheader in NFL history.

The NFL has scheduled games on Christmas every year since 1989.

Network free agency

Sunday afternoon games will feel like the wild, wild west in 2023.

That's because the NFL has done away with network designations starting this season.

CBS has traditionally been the home for the AFC television package, while Fox has been the network home for NFC games.

With few exceptions, the road team for Sunday afternoon games has dictated which network a team would be assigned. Games with an AFC road team would go to CBS and games with an NFC road team would go to Fox.

Fox sideline reporter Pam Oliver interviews Miami Dolphins QB Skylar Thompson after game, Jan. 8, 2023
Fox NFL sideline reporter Pam Oliver interviews Miami Dolphins quarterback Skylar Thompson after the Dolphins defeated the New York Jets, Sunday, Jan. 8, 2023, in Miami Gardens, Fla.

But now that the NFL has scrapped the network designation and its rule about how many times a team can be taken from its conference's home network, all games have essentially become free agents.

That means the Miami Dolphins, who play in the AFC East Division, could make more than just a handful of appearances on Fox this season.