The NFL will utilize a primetime flexible scheduling element for the 2014 season on Sundays in Weeks 5-17. Flexible scheduling ensures quality matchups on Sunday nights throughout the season and gives surprise teams a chance to play their way into primetime.
The NFL has the ability to change the start times of games on Sunday afternoon to 8:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, using a 12-day notice format in Weeks 5-16 and a six-day notice format in Week 17. For example, a game scheduled for Sunday, Nov. 16 at 1:00 p.m. ET could be moved to 8:30 p.m., but the change would be announced no later than Tuesday, Nov. 4. The game originally scheduled for Sunday, Nov. 16 at 8:30 p.m. ET would then be moved to an afternoon time slot at 1:00, 4:05 or 4:25 p.m. ET.
During Weeks 5-10, flexible scheduling can be used in no more than two weeks by shifting a Sunday afternoon game into primetime and moving the Sunday night game to an afternoon start time. In Weeks 11-17, any Sunday night game can be flexed.
For the 2014 season, flexible scheduling has the potential to affect Panthers' games versus Chicago on Oct. 5, at Cincinnati on Oct. 12, at Green Bay on Oct. 19, versus Seattle on Oct. 26, versus Atlanta on Nov. 16, at Minnesota on Nov. 30, at New Orleans on Dec. 7, versus Tampa Bay on Dec. 14, versus Cleveland on Dec. 21, and at Atlanta on Dec. 28.
Only Sunday afternoon games may be changed, and flexible scheduling does not apply to games on Thursday, Saturday or Monday nights. As a result, Panthers' games versus New Orleans on Oct. 30 and at Philadelphia on Nov. 10 cannot be flexed. However, Sunday afternoon games can still be moved between 1:00 and 4:05 or 4:25 p.m. ET.
Also, a select number of games can be "cross-flexed," moving between CBS and FOX to bring potentially under-distributed games to wider audiences.