Where as last year networks were looking to get as many Chicago Bears games on prime time as possible they are working just as hard to get them off this year.
The Bears/Seahawks game scheduled for Nov. 18th is at risk of being removed and replaced by a more intriguing matchup.
The NFL not only wants to keep NBC happy, it also wants to air a marquee game to a national audience. And the Bears have fallen off the marquee.
In making the decision, executives have to keep in mind that the Bears could fall to 3-6 at Oakland after their week off. The Raiders are only 2-5, but there are no gimmes where the Bears are concerned this year. The last thing NBC wants is to showcase a team with a 3-6 record in mid-November.
Seattle also is no prize. The 4-3 Seahawks play at suddenly tough Cleveland this week. If they lose and drop to .500, that also will be a factor. Seattle isn't exactly a ratings powerhouse. Its 28-17 loss Oct. 14 to New Orleans, a terrible game, delivered NBC's lowest ratings of the season.
The Bears are a different story: They always deliver in the ratings. The Bears-Dallas game Sept. 23 was NBC's highest-rated game of the year at 11.8, and the Bears-Green Bay game Oct. 7 was the fourth best at 11.2 (one national ratings point is worth more than 1 million households).
When he was at ABC, current NBC play-by-play man Al Michaels always lobbied the network for Bears and Dallas games because he said viewers would watch regardless of their record.