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NFL does not schedule a 'Sunday Night Football' game for Week 17

The NFL didn’t have a great option for “Sunday Night Football” in Week 17. So there will be no “Sunday Night Football.”

The NFL released its Week 17 schedule late Sunday evening with one big surprise: All the games will happen in either the 1 p.m. or 4:25 p.m. Eastern time slots, with no game on Sunday night. There are nine games in the late time slot, which is also very unusual. Usually there are about three-to-five games in the late window.

The NFL wants games that have correlated playoff implications to be held at the same time. For instance, it doesn’t want the New Orleans Saints playing early and winning to clinch the NFC South, and the Carolina Panthers playing late with nothing to play for. Usually the NFL waits and schedules a game that has direct playoff implications for both teams on “Sunday Night Football,” but in a weird quirk there were no such games for the NFL to choose this season. It must have been hard for the NFL to pass on putting any game in its ratings-rich Sunday night slot, even if there was no great choice and having a Sunday night game might have negatively affected the playoff chase.

Seven of the eight division titles are already decided. The only undecided division is the NFC South. The Panthers and Saints are tied for first place but don’t play each other in Week 17. There are wild-card spots to be filled, but none of the games in Week 17 feature two teams still alive for an unclaimed wild-card spot.

The NFL probably also had in mind that it is New Year’s Eve, and fans wouldn’t want to be sitting around their television late at night to watch if the Tennessee Titans could win and get the final wild-card spot. This way, all the results and the playoff matchups will be set at roughly 7:30 p.m. next Sunday.

If you have New Year’s Eve plans next week, the NFL isn’t going to keep you from heading out early for them.

Here’s the full Week 17 schedule:

Green Bay at Detroit, 1:00 PM, FOX
Houston at Indianapolis, 1:00 PM, CBS
Chicago at Minnesota, 1:00 PM, FOX
New York Jets at New England, 1:00 PM, CBS
Washington at New York Giants, 1:00 PM, FOX
Dallas at Philadelphia, 1:00 PM, FOX
Cleveland at Pittsburgh, 1:00 PM, CBS
Carolina at Atlanta, 4:25 PM, FOX
Cincinnati at Baltimore, 4:25 PM, CBS
Kansas City at Denver, 4:25 PM. CBS
Oakland at Los Angeles Chargers, 4:25 PM, CBS
San Francisco at Los Angeles Rams, 4:25 PM, FOX
Buffalo at Miami, 4:25 PM, CBS
Arizona at Seattle, 4:25 PM, FOX
New Orleans at Tampa Bay, 4:25 PM, FOX
Jacksonville at Tennessee, 4:25 PM, CBS

New Orleans Saints fans celebrate in the second half of a win over the Falcons in Week 16. (AP)

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Frank Schwab is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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