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Buffalo gets break after Bills play

This is what I'm thinking:

*Eight seasons ago, Sunday's battle of the titans between Indianapolis and New England would have been blacked out here. But have no fear, the 4 p.m. game will air on WIVB-TV as soon as the Bills' game with Cincinnati is over.

In 2000, the NFL dropped the prohibition against carrying more than two games on a Sunday when the home market team had a home game.

The Buffalo market now gets three Sunday afternoon games unless the Bills' home game is on a network -- Fox or CBS -- that doesn't have the Sunday doubleheader. Blackout rules prevent head-to-head competition with a Bills home game.

Ideally for the league, the Colts-Patriots game would air on NBC's prime-time package, Sunday Night Football. But the decision to keep it on the AFC network, CBS, was made in April when the schedule came out. The Colts-Pats game arrives two weeks before the NFL's so-called flex schedule begins. CBS would have assuredly protected the game from becoming an NBC flex game anyway.

This season, the NFL and NBC have announced which games will air on Sunday night if one of the flex options isn't used. A year ago, the tentative Sunday games ostensibly were kept secret.

From the looks of things, NBC won't have to flex its muscles too often until late December since it has upcoming games involving Dallas, Indianapolis (twice), New England, Pittsburgh, the New York Giants and Washington. Washington's 4-3 record is the weakest in the bunch.

The Seattle-Chicago game Nov. 18 doesn't look like a winner, but it's tough to drop a game involving the big Chicago market. The two Sunday games that NBC might want to change are the Dec. 23 game between Tampa and San Francisco and the Dec. 30 finale between Kansas City and the lowly New York Jets.

*Fox broadcaster Joe Buck had an impressive four-game World Series, even if he didn't have a great line after the Boston Red Sox got the final out in their sweep of Colorado. By the way, Buck reportedly has done a late-night show pilot for Fox.

*ESPN's Chris Mortensen wasn't the only reporter last Sunday to question whether the Bills' decision to play Trent Edwards over J.P. Losman wasn't motivated by money. CBS' "General Manager" Charlie Casserly said pretty much the same thing, saying sitting Losman could cost him millions in bonus money and that Edwards makes only $370,000. Of course, Edwards' injury may have made all the network talk moot now that Losman is back in the lineup. And who is to say the Bills wouldn't have had to renegotiate with Edwards if he remained the starter?

*After an item suggesting that Chris Brown of BuffaloBills.com doesn't belong on Channel 7's Sunday show because he is employed by the team, two Channel 7 insiders e-mailed me to point out that former sports anchor John Murphy was the host of Bills TV productions. Now you tell me! I guess the insiders' defense was that this isn't the first time the station has used a Bills employee. It shouldn't have allowed Murphy to be paid by the team, either. Murphy also is the voice of the Bills, but gets paid by Citadel, the owner of 97 Rock. Brown is a full-time Bills employee, which is a minor distinction but a distinction nonetheless. It's a horrible idea to use people paid by the team to report on the Bills no matter how objective they are.

*The Bills' TV ratings are improving with the team's record. The 13-3 victory over the New York Jets on Sunday had a 33.3 rating. It will be interesting to see if the Pats-Colts game gets a rating in the ballpark of the Bills game.

e-mail: apergament@buffnews.com

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