NFL Flexes Steelers-Bengals Week 11 Out of ‘Sunday Night Football’

by Nick Geddes
(Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

It was always a possibility that the NFL would flex the Pittsburgh SteelersCincinnati Bengals Week 11 matchup out of “Sunday Night Football.”

Per Ari Meirov of Pro Football Focus, the AFC North divisional matchup has indeed been moved from its original 8:20 p.m. ET slot. The Steelers will instead play home to the Bengals at 4:25 p.m. ET on CBS. It will be an AFC West divisional showdown that takes centerstage in its place.

The Los Angeles Chargers (5-3) will now host the Kansas City Chiefs (6-2) on “Sunday Night Football.” That’ll make it back-to-back for the Chargers on NBC, as they travel to play the San Francisco 49ers on “Sunday Night Football” in Week 10.

A divisional game between the Steelers and Bengals — two playoff teams from last season — appeared to be an appealing matchup heading into the season. But in recent years, the league has routinely flexed out games to get better matchups on primetime. And with the Steelers sitting a dismal 2-6 and the Bengals an inconsistent 5-4, it simply doesn’t compare to the quarterback duel of Justin Herbert and Patrick Mahomes.

Steelers Hoping to Get TJ Watt Back in Near Future

Much of the Steelers’ struggles — at least defensively — are contributed to the absence of linebacker TJ Watt. Watt, the reigning AP Defensive Player of the Year, suffered a torn pectoral muscle in Week 1 against the Bengals.

Watt recorded 22.5 sacks last season, tying Michael Strahan for the most in a single season. The sacks have dried up in Pittsburgh, as the team has just 15.0. Seven of those came against Cincinnati in Week 1, with Watt getting one of his own.

Watt’s return, however, appears to be near. Head coach Mike Tomlin is optimistic Watt will be available in Week 10 this Sunday against the New Orleans Saints (3-6).

”TJ is who he is,” Tomlin said Tuesday, via Yahoo Sports. ”It’s not mystical the things that he’s able to do. I don’t know any of us are surprised with what he’s capable of getting done. We eagerly await his return.”