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Indianapolis Colts at Cincinnati Bengals protected from flex scheduling

NBC announced Sunday night that the NFL flexed the Panthers and Saints into Sunday Night Football for week 14, the same weekend that the Bengals host the Indianapolis Colts. We take a look at flex scheduling for the rest of 2013.

Andy Lyons

Watching Sunday Night's game between the Denver Broncos and New England Patriots, interested to see if the Bengals standing in the AFC improves with a Patriots loss, NBC announced the flex schedule for week 14.

The original Dec. 8 game between the Atlanta Falcons and Green Bay Packers was pushed back to a 1 p.m. slot while the suddenly interesting NFC South showdown between the Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints was flexed into Sunday Night Football.

The Cincinnati Bengals host the Indianapolis Colts that weekend, so many wonder why two teams vying for a first-round bye in the 2013 NFL playoffs isn't considered. CBS protected the game, therefore it couldn't be moved.

Fox and CBS are allowed to protect five games per year, with a maximum of one per week (no games in week 17 can be protected) and only games scheduled for Sunday may be flexed. Games are protected after week five. There is no scheduled Sunday Night Football game in week 17, as that will be decided six days prior to Sunday.

Cincinnati is scheduled to play Sunday Night Football in week 15. The games protected that week are the Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys (FOX) and New England Patriots at the Miami Dolphins (CBS). Cincinnati figures to remain in prime time as the week features a lot of games with sub-500 teams while the Bengals, who have lost two of the past three, are facing a Steelers team on a three-game winning streak.

Rest of the Season:

Protected: Packers at Cowboys (FOX), Patriots at Dolphins (CBS)
Original Game: Bengals at Steelers

Week 16:
Protected: Broncos at Texans (CBS), Cowboys at Redskins (FOX)
Original Game: Patriots at Ravens

Week 17: None
Original Game: None