The NFL is making one significant change to its schedule in Week 13 and it's a curious one. The Houston Texans game against the Denver Broncos is being flexed from the late window into the early one. The move will push the Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Carolina Panthers game into the afternoon slot.
The schedule change was announced by NFL PR guy Brian McCarthy on Tuesday.
On the surface, it doesn't stand out as a huge move. None of the primetime game slots are being affected by the change.
The move does, however, give Texans rookie C.J. Stroud a chance to be viewed by a much larger audience. With the change, Broncos-Texans is easily the most appealing game in the early window during Week 13. The Texans are a surprising 6-4 entering Week 12 thanks to Stroud and the Broncos are a resurgent 5-5 under Sean Payton. Every other game in the early window features at least one team with a record under .500. That could lead to more Fox or CBS affiliates defaulting to Broncos-Texans if the local teams don't play in the early window.
Had the Broncos-Texans game remained in the late window, it would have had to compete with the San Francisco 49ers' game against the Philadelphia Eagles. There's an argument those are the two best teams in the NFC. If those games were paired up in the same window, 49ers-Eagles would likely be shown on most Fox or CBS affiliates over Broncos-Texans.
If that was the league's thinking behind the move, it makes sense. Stroud is the heavy favorite to win the Rookie of the Year award in 2023. He was even getting MVP buzz before a three-interception performance in Week 11.
Still, Stroud is a player dedicated NFL fans should want to see. Is he really as good as everyone says? Can you believe the hype? Fans who don't own the NFL Sunday Ticket — or don't live in Houston — probably don't get to see the Texans play often. The decision to flex the Broncos-Texans game potentially gives those fans a chance to get eyes on Stroud for the first time and decide whether he's worth the hype.
Through 10 games, Stroud has thrown for 2,962 yards. He's added 17 touchdowns against five interceptions, and has the Texans firmly in the playoff race with seven games to go.
That's quite the performance for a rookie, and one worthy of extra attention.