NFL Regular Season Schedule
The NFL regular season schedule is spread out over four months and the league uses a 17-week format. The first week takes place in September, usually the first or second week, and the regular season schedule ends in late December or early January with Week 17.
All 32 teams in the NFL play a regular season schedule of 16 games. The majority of those games take place on Sunday but the league does also produce games on Thursday, Saturday and Monday, which are normally played in primetime slots. The majority of games played during the NFL Regular Season schedule on Sunday take place in the afternoon.
The NFL regular season schedule is divided between playing teams within its division, outside of the division in the conference, and against clubs from the opposite conference.
Every NFL team plays six games in their division against three opponents and that’s essentially a home-and-home series. Eight other games will be against two different divisions, one inside the conference and one against a non-conference group. The remaining two games are set up on a seed basis within each team’s conference. The No. 1 team will play the No. 1 team from the two other divisions that aren’t already scheduled.
During the 17-week NFL regular season schedule, each team is given a ‘bye’ week. That essentially allows team to rest and reward the players for time off during the grueling schedule. The NFL is often considered a battle of attrition where injuries play a major toll and a break albeit a week sometimes can help more than you know.
The NFL regular season schedule consists of 256 total games over the 17-week season and while the majority of the games take place in the Untied States, the league has expanded its NFL regular season schedule overseas. The NFL International Series schedule during the regular season has games played in London and Mexico City. This began in 2005 and you can see as many as five games played outside the United States each season.
NFL Schedule for Sunday Night Football & Monday Night Football
Primetime games or contests played ‘under the lights’ have been common for the NFL regular season schedule and teams playing on Sunday Night Football (SNF) or Monday Night Football (MNF) get the chance to showcase their ability in front of nationally televised viewing audiences.
SNF games are televised on NBC and there is a game played every week of the season, plus the league uses a flex system later in the year. The reason for the flex is to allow the NFL to push meaningful matchups in this televised spot.
The MNF matchups don’t get flexed out and they run games from Week 1 to Week 16 on ESPN. The opening week always has a double-header scheduled on the network, the late-game starting at 10:15 p.m. ET and it usually has a team playing on the West Coast featured.
Teams playing on Sunday Night Football and Monday Night Football normally have produced winning records in the previous season. Plus, you’ll see plenty of divisional matchups and Super Bowl rematches as well.
NFL Playoffs Schedule
The NFL Playoffs schedule is determined after the regular season concludes in Week 17 and normally begins in the first week of January or last week in December. Twelve teams earn a trip to the postseason and the top four teams in both the NFC and AFC conference earn a bye, which is a week of rest. Those four teams won’t be active during in the first round of the NFL Playoffs and they’ll all have homefield advantage for their first game, which teaks place in the Divisional Playoffs.
There are four rounds to the NFL Playoffs Schedule and all of the games are single-elimination, which is what makes the NFL different than the other major sports in the United States. You just have to be good for one game and that format always gives underdogs a chance to pull off upsets. The term “Any Given Sunday” applies to the NFL Playoffs Schedule since the best team that day usually comes out a winner.
- Wild Card Weekend – Four Games (8 teams)
- Divisional Playoffs – Four Games (8 teams)
- Conference Championship – Two Games (4 teams)
- NFL Super Bowl – One Game (2 teams)
There are a total of 11 playoff games spread out over five weeks. The first three weeks of the NFL Playoffs take place consecutively and then there is a one-week break before the Super Bowl, which is played at a neutral location and venue.