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Sunday Night Lights

By Benjy Lipsman in News on Nov 2, 2006 6:57PM

2006_11_sports_bears_nbc_fox.jpgChicagoist can't remember from our middle school science classes whether bears are nocturnal animals or not, but the NFL certainly thinks they are. With the Chicago Bears now 7-0, the NFL and its broadcast networks are about to get into a bit of a battle over what time and which network will televise the Bears on a couple of upcoming weekends.

With the league limiting teams to five primetime appearances, NBC is desperate to grab one more opportunity to show Da Bears. They've already played one Sunday night game against the Seahawks and one Monday night game against the Cardinals. They've got one more Sunday night game and one more Monday night game already scheduled. So that leaves one more time for NBC to show the Bears -- if they can wrestle a game away from Fox.

After years of discussions, the NFL finally has flexible scheduling for certain later weeks (weeks 10-15 and 17), which allows games scheduled for Sunday afternoons to get bumped back to the NBC Sunday prime-time game. The NFL already annouced that the Bears-Giants game on November 12 gets center stage that night ... and now NBC wants more of Da Bears.

They really want the Bears-Patriots game on November 26. Fox, which broadcasts the afternoon Sunday games and gets to protect certain games from being moved to NBC, protected the Bears-Jets on November 19 so that's off the table for sure. But Fox didn't protect the Bears-Pats or the December 3 Bears-Vikings games because they thought the league's earmarked games would provide compelling enough action. However, with the Eagles falling to 4-4, Fox is regretting that decision about Nov. 26. NBC is sure to request the unprotected Bears-Patriots game, but because Fox is planning to do their pregame show from Foxboro, they're hoping that the league will deny NBC's request.

If they do, then NBC's consolation prize will likely be the Bears-Vikings game on December 3. Not quite as compelling a game as the Bears-Pats, to be sure. But another Bears prime-time game would be nice.