The Buffalo Bills will play on a Saturday in December for the second straight season, with their visit to Denver being the shifted tilt.
📺: Dec. 19th on NFL Network pic.twitter.com/X3OD7gCd2O
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) November 24, 2020
The Buffalo Bills earned another prime time date on Tuesday afternoon, as the NFL announced that the team will be a part of a late-season doubleheader on Saturday, December 19. Buffalo will battle the Denver Broncos at Empower Field at Mile High at 4:30 p.m. ET, with the game broadcast nationally on NFL Network, as well as simulcast on local stations in the Buffalo and Denver areas. It will be the first of two Saturday battles, the latter being an 8:15 p.m. ET nightcap between the Carolina Panthers and Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.
These two matchups were part of the NFL’s original Week 15 slate, part of a group of six that was nominated to play a late Saturday game. The NFL avoids scheduling games on Saturday night due to the Sports Broadcasting Act of 1961, which ruled that the league’s broadcasting practices, which often staged Saturday night games, violated antitrust laws. Such an act more or less outlaws the NFL from staging games on Friday and Saturday during high school and college football seasons respectively, though exceptions are granted later in the year when the college regular season ends. Five more games are likewise up for a Saturday shift on the Week 16 slate, including a matchup between the New York Jets and Cleveland Browns at MetLife Stadium.
This marks the second straight season that the Bills have been moved to a Saturday night in the late stages of the season. Last year’s instance decided the AFC East division race, as the Bills battled the New England Patriots in Foxboro. New England took the game 24-17 to capture their 11th straight division title. Buffalo (7-3) may have a chance to flip the script this holiday season, as they currently own a one-game lead on the Miami Dolphins for the division lead.
The resurgence of the Bills has led to an increase in national television appearances. With this shift, the Bills will now play on a national broadcast in four of their final six games, and their Week 17 tilt against Miami could well move to the Sunday night slot if postseason seeding is on the line. Buffalo also has two appearances on ESPN’s Monday Night Football ahead (December 7 at San Francisco and December 28 at New England), their first season with multiple MNF visits since 1997. The Bills are also set to partake in Week 14’s Sunday night game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on December 13 at home. It will mark only their third appearance on the premiere national slot since NBC took over the package in 2006 and the peacock network’s first visit to Buffalo since 2007. The Bills’ first nationally televised game, part of NFL Network’s Thursday night package, was moved to a Monday after several other teams endured difficulties with the ongoing health crisis.
Buffalo will next battle the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday afternoon (1 p.m., CBS).
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags