nfl-logo1The NFL is coming off most-watched program in U.S. TV history with the Super Bowl, and its just-released 2014 schedule arrives today with a couple key differences from last year – one of which is bound to make NBC execs smile. The league said that its “flex” scheduling for the Paeaock’s Sunday Night Football games can begin as early as Week 5, moving up from Week 11 in the past. That means the NFL can move any scheduled day game into primetime to air on what has been the No. 1 show in primetime viewership for four consecutive years and tops in the adults 18-49 demo for six straight. But there is a catch: The flex option can be exercised only twice between Weeks 5 and 10, whichSunday_night_football means Fox or CBS won’t have to give up their best matchups every week during that span. The flex-scheduling say-so remains with the league, which must make the call no fewer than 12 days ahead of time. (Regular Sunday night flex scheduling remains in play after Week 10.) Meanwhile, the NFL also is introducing a plan to “cross flex” Sunday day games on CBS and Fox, which have over-the-air rights to the AFC and NFC, respectively. In previous years, a game between two AFC teams had to be on CBS, but now the league can choose to move those games to Fox (and vice versa). This could help during weeks when one network happens to have the potentially biggest games.

Related: ESPN To Air Cable’s First NFL Playoff Game

Meanwhile, the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks will kick off the 2014 season on NBC by hosting the Green Bay Packers on Thursday, September 4. The 2014 Sunday Night Football season will start with the Indianapolis Colts at the Super Bowl runner-up Denver Broncos. And, as has become custom, ESPN’s Monday Night Football launches with a time-zone doubleheader: The Detroit Lions host the New York Giants in Game 1, followed by the San Diego Chargers heading to Arizona to face the Cardinals. And Thanksgiving will be a true feast for NFL die-hards as the late game will pit the Seahawks against their archrival San Francisco 49ers at the latter’s brand-new home, Levi’s Stadium. The earlier all-NFC Turkey Day games see the Chicago Bears at the Lions and the Philadelphia Eagles at the Dallas Cowboys. The Bears-Lions games will air on CBS under the new cross-flex plan. Here is a list of all the 2014 primetime NFL games, subject to flex changes:

Thursday Night Football (NBC Week 1; CBS/NFL Network simulcast Weeks 2-8; NFL Network Weeks 9-16)
Week 1: Green Bay at Seahawks
Week 2: Pittsburgh at Ravens
Week 3: Tampa Bay at Atlanta
Week 4: New York Giants at Washington
Week 5: Minnesota at Green Bay
Week 6: Indianapolis at Houston
Week 7: New York Jets at New England
Week 8: San Diego at Denver
Week 9: New Orleans at Carolina
Week 10: Cleveland at Cincinnati
Week 11: Buffalo at Miami
Week 12: Kansas City at Oakland
Week 13: Seattle at San Francisco (Thanksgiving)
Week 14: Dallas at Chicago
Week 15: Arizona at St. Louis
Week 16: Tennessee at Jacksonville

Sunday Night Football (NBC)
Week 1: Indianapolis at Denver
Week 2: Chicago at San Francisco
Week 3: Pittsburgh at Carolina
Week 4: New Orleans at Dallas
Week 5: Cincinnati at New England
Week 6: New York Giants at Philadelphia
Week 7: San Francisco at Cleveland
Week 8: Green Bay at New Orleans
Week 9: Baltimore at Pittsburgh
Week 10: Chicago at Green Bay
Week 11: New England at Indianapolis
Week 12: Dallas at New York Giants
Week 13: Denver at Kansas City
Week 14: New England at San Diego
Week 15: Dallas at Philadelphia
Week 16: Seattle at St. Louis
Week 17: TBA (flex game)

Monday Night Football (ESPN)
Week 1: N.Y. Giants at Detroit; San Diego at Arizona
Week 2: Philadelphia at Indianapolis
Week 3: Chicago at N.Y. Jets
Week 4: New England at Kansas City
Week 5: Seattle at Washington
Week 6: San Francisco at St. Louis
Week 7: Houston at Pittsburgh
Week 8: Washington at Dallas
Week 9: Indianapolis at N.Y. Giants
Week 10: Carolina at Philadelphia
Week 11: Pittsburgh at Tennessee
Week 12: Baltimore at New Orleans
Week 13: Miami at N.Y. Jets
Week 14: Atlanta at Green Bay
Week 15: New Orleans at Chicago
Week 16: Denver at Cincinnati