NFL regular season

NFL regular season

Sports season

The National Football League (NFL) regular season begins on the weekend following the first Monday of September (i.e, the weekend following the Labor Day holiday) and ends in early January, after which that season's playoffs tournament begins. It consists of 272 games, with each of the NFL's 32 teams playing 17 games during an 18-week period with one "bye" week off.

Since 2012, the NFL generally schedules games in five time slots during the week. The first game of the week is played on Thursday night, kicking off at 8:20 PM (ET). The majority of games are played on Sunday, most kicking off at 1PM (ET), with some late afternoon games starting at either 4:05 or 4:25 PM (ET). Additionally, one Sunday night game is played every week at 8:20 PM (ET). Finally, one or two Monday night games start at 8:15 PM (ET). In addition to these regularly scheduled games, there are occasionally games at other times, such as a Saturday afternoon or evening, the annual Thanksgiving Day games in which two daytime Thursday games are played in addition to the normal Thursday night game, and new for 2023 a Black Friday (day after Thanksgiving) afternoon game.

In place since 2006, the current broadcasting contract establishes broadcast partners for each game. The Sunday afternoon games are broadcast either on CBS or Fox. CBS has the broadcast rights for teams in the American Football Conference while Fox has the rights for teams in the National Football Conference. In games where teams from both conferences play each other, the network with the broadcast rights for the "away" team will broadcast the game. In each local television market, three Sunday afternoon games are shown. One of the two networks shows two games back-to-back in each time slot, while the other network has the right to broadcast a single game, showing one game in either time slot; the networks generally alternate weeks (but not always) when each has the right to show both games.

In addition to the regular Sunday afternoon games, there are three prime time games each week. With the exception of the NFL Kickoff Game and the Thanksgiving night game, which are broadcast by NBC, the Thursday night game is broadcast by Amazon Prime Video.[1] The Sunday night game is broadcast by NBC, while the Monday night game is broadcast by ESPN/ABC. The Black Friday game is also broadcast by Prime Video.

The NFL uses a strict scheduling algorithm to determine which teams play each other from year to year, based on the current division alignments and the final division standings from the previous season. The current formula has been in place since 2021, the last year that the NFL expanded its regular season. Generally, each team plays the other three teams in its own division twice, all four teams from a single division in the AFC once, all four teams from a single division in the NFC once, two additional intraconference games, and one additional interconference game.

Game times

Since 1990, the majority of NFL regular-season games are played on Sundays at 1:00 pm, or around 4:05 to 4:25pm ET (see below). The late afternoon (ET) window is usually reserved for games hosted in the Pacific Time Zone or Mountain Time Zone, plus one or more marquee contests. The current NFL television contract awards the American broadcast of these games to Fox or CBS, usually with Fox showing games where the visiting team is from the NFC, and CBS showing games where the visiting team is from the AFC. Each of these Sunday afternoon games is televised on a regional basis to a few or several areas around the country, therefore each viewer can only see a maximum two games at each window on broadcast, whereas the remaining games are exclusive to the NFL Sunday Ticket premium package.

Every Sunday of the regular season, either CBS or Fox air two games in a doubleheader package, while the other network may show only one game (with the exception of weeks 1 and 18 in which they both get a doubleheader). Late games scheduled to air on the network showing only one game are scheduled to start at 4:05pm ET, while the second game of a doubleheader will kick off later at 4:25pm; this is to reduce conflicts with 1:00pm games that have run late.[2]

The schedule allows for four other regular time slots, in which these games are broadcast nationally across the country:

  1. One Sunday night game, which has been regularly scheduled since 1987, and has aired on NBC since 2006.
  2. One Monday Night Football game, which has been regularly scheduled since 1970, and has been appearing on ESPN since 2006. Also from 2006 to 2020, two games were on the first Monday of the season. The practice of holding a Monday night game during the last week of the season ended after the 2002 season due to low ratings and a competitive imbalance involved for potential playoff teams who would have one less day of rest before the postseason. With the expansion of the season to 18 weeks in 2021, no Week 1 MNF doubleheader was scheduled that season.
  3. Since 2002, the league has also scheduled games on Thursday nights. This is in addition to the Thanksgiving Day games traditionally hosted by Detroit (since 1920) and Dallas (since 1966). Starting in 2002 the NFL Kickoff Game, traditionally hosted by the defending Super Bowl champions, has been held on the Thursday preceding the start of the rest of the games. Since 2006, additional Thursday night games have been added to the season (with the games counting as part of the "week" including the upcoming Sunday), at first only after Thanksgiving, and since 2012, during nearly every week of the season.
  4. Some late season games in every season since 1970, except for 2013, have been played on Saturdays.[lower-alpha 1]

Since the 2006 season, the NFL has used a "flexible scheduling" system for the last seven weeks of the regular season when there is a Sunday night game. In 2014, that was expanded to include weeks 5 – 17.[4] This flexible scheduling allows for regional games originally scheduled for Sunday afternoon to be moved to the marquee Sunday Night matchup, to be broadcast to a national audience instead.


More information Number of regular season games per team ...

In its early years after 1920, the NFL did not have a set schedule, and teams played as few as eight and as many as sixteen games, many against independent professional, college, or amateur teams. From 1926 through 1946, they played from eleven to fourteen games per season, depending on the number of teams in the league. From 1947 through 1960, each NFL team played 12 games per season. The American Football League began play in 1960 and introduced a balanced schedule of 14 games per team over a fifteen-week season, in which each of the eight teams played each of the other teams twice, with one bye week. Competition from the new league caused the NFL to expand and follow suit with a fourteen-game schedule in 1961.

Also in 1961, the U.S. Congress passed the Sports Broadcasting Act of 1961 in response to a court decision which ruled that the NFL's method of negotiating television broadcasting rights violated antitrust laws. The law allows the league to sell the rights to all regular season and postseason games to the networks, but prohibits the league from directly competing with high school and college football games. Since high school and college teams typically play games on Friday and Saturday, respectively, the NFL cannot hold games on those days until those seasons generally end in mid-December.[3]

From 1961 through 1977, the NFL schedule consisted of fourteen regular season games played over fourteen weeks, except in 1966. Opening weekend typically was the weekend after Labor Day, or rarely two weekends after Labor Day. Teams played six or seven exhibition games. In 1966 (and 1960), the NFL had an odd number of franchises, so one team was idle each week. In 1978, the league changed the schedule to include sixteen regular season games and four exhibition games. From 1978 through 1989, the sixteen games were played over sixteen weeks.

Prior to 1982, Sunday afternoon games hosted in the Central Time Zone instead primarily kicked off at 2:00 pm ET/1:00 pm local time. The home games of the then-Baltimore Colts also typically kicked off at 2:00 pm ET due to Maryland's blue laws at the time.[5] Since 1982, Central Time Zone games have primarily started at noon CT with the rest of the 1:00 p.m. ET early games. Colts home games also moved to 4:00 p.m. ET with the rest of the late afternoon games until the team's relocation to Indianapolis in 1984. Maryland's blue laws were later modified, allowing the Baltimore Ravens to play their home games at 1:00 p.m. ET since their 1996 inaugural season.

In 1990, the NFL re-introduced a bye week to the schedule, which it had not had since 1966. Each team played sixteen regular season games over seventeen weeks. During the season, on a rotating basis, each team would have the weekend off. As a result, opening weekend was moved up to Labor Day weekend. The league had an odd number of teams (31) from 1999 to 2001. During that period, at least one team had to be given a bye on any given week. For the 1993 season, the league experimented with the schedule by adding a second bye week for each team, resulting in an 18-week regular season. In 2001, the September 11th attacks resulted in the league postponing its Week 2 games, leading to another 18-week season. A seventeenth regular season game was added in 2021.[6]

Since the 2002 season, the league has scheduled a nationally televised regular season kickoff game on the Thursday night after Labor Day, prior to the first Sunday of NFL games to kick off the season. The first one, featuring the San Francisco 49ers and the New York Giants, was held on September 5, 2002 largely to celebrate New York City's resilience in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks.[7] Since 2004, the NFL has indicated that the opening game will normally be hosted by the defending Super Bowl champions as the official start of their title defense. Under this scheduling system, the earliest the regular season could begin is September 4, as it was in the 2008 and 2014 seasons, due to September 1 falling on a Monday, while the latest possible is September 10, as it was in the 2009, 2015, and 2020 seasons, due to September 1 falling on a Tuesday.

Current scheduling formula

More information POS, AFC East ...
This chart of the 2023 season standings displays an application of the NFL scheduling formula. The Chiefs in 2023 (highlighted in green) finished in first place in the AFC West. Thus, in 2024, the Chiefs will play two games against each of its division rivals (highlighted in light blue), one game against each team in the AFC North and NFC South (highlighted in yellow), and one game each against the first-place finishers in the AFC East, AFC South (highlighted in orange) and NFC West (highlighted in pink).

Currently, the fourteen different opponents each team faces over the 17-game regular season schedule are set using a pre-determined formula:[8]

  • Each team plays twice against each of the other three teams in its division: once at home, and once on the road (six games).
  • Each team plays once against each of the four teams from a predetermined division (based on a three-year rotation) within its own conference: two at home, and two on the road (four games).
  • Each team plays once against one team from the remaining two divisions within its conference that finished in a similar placement in the final divisional standings in the prior season:[lower-alpha 2] one at home, one on the road (two games).
  • Each team plays once against each of the four teams from a predetermined division (based on a four-year rotation) in the other conference: two at home, and two on the road (four games).
  • Each team also plays an extra interconference "17th game" against one team from the division in the other conference it played two years before that. Additionally, this team must have finished in a similar placement in the final divisional standings in the prior season[lower-alpha 3] (one game).

Under this formula, all teams are guaranteed to play every other team in their own conference at least once every three years, and to play every team in the other conference at least once every four years. The formula also guarantees a similar schedule for every team in a division each season, as all four teams will play fourteen out of their seventeen games against common opponents or each other.

Non-divisional intraconference match-ups can occur over consecutive years if two teams happen to finish in the same place consistently. For example, even though the Colts and Patriots are in different divisions within the same conference, the two teams played each other every season between 2003 and 2012, largely because both teams often finished in first place in their divisions each previous season. Similarly, the Jets and Browns played each other every season between 2015 and 2020 because both teams often landed in fourth place in their divisions.[9]

Outside intradivisional match-ups (each of which is played twice-yearly), the home team for each match-up is also determined by the league according to a set rotation designed to largely alternate home and away designations over successive years.[10] This rotation was slightly adjusted in 2010 for teams playing against the NFC West and AFC West, after several east-coast teams (such as the New England Patriots and New York Jets in 2008) all had to make four cross-country trips to play games in San Diego, San Francisco, Oakland, and Seattle in one season.[11]

Although this scheduling formula determines each of the thirty-two teams' respective opponents, the league usually does not release the final regular schedule with specific dates and times until the spring; the NFL needs several months to coordinate the entire season schedule to align with various secondary objectives — such as accommodating various scheduling conflicts, not forcing teams to play too many consecutive games at home or on the road, avoiding giving any one team significantly more rest time than their opponent, and maximizing potential TV ratings.[12][13] Since 2010, every regular season ends with only divisional match-ups in the final week, in an attempt to discourage playoff-bound teams from resting their starters and playing their reserves.[8][14]

Past formulas

Between 1970 and the 2002 expansion to 32 teams, the league used scheduling rubrics with similarities to the present model, though they were adjusted for the number of teams and divisions.

The only time between the merger and 2002 (when the league was realigned into eight divisions of four teams each) that the league was completely "balanced" was in 1995 to 1998 (with six divisions of five teams each). When the league did not have equal numbers of teams in every division, every team’s opposition could not be determined by the same means.

While teams playing against their division rivals twice each has been a tradition since 1933 when the first standardized schedules were introduced, not all teams would play the same amount of divisional games due to the imbalances noted in the preceding paragraph: the AFC Central between 1999 and 2001, consisting of six teams as a partial result of the Cleveland Browns relocation controversy, required teams to play ten intradivision games in a 16-game schedule.

1970 to 1977

Following the merger, every team in the Central and West divisions of each conference would play six division games, five non-division conference games, and three interconference games, except one team in each conference who played a fourth interconference game to balance the fourteen-game schedule.[15] Teams in the East divisions would play eight division games, three non-division conference games, and three interconference games. For each conference, four groups of opponents were set:

  1. A set of three interconference opponents, who would theoretically formed a repeating cycle every thirteen seasons, with each matchup occurring three times per cycle[lower-alpha 4][15]
  2. For Central and West division teams playing three interconference games: two intraconference opponents from the five-team East Division of their own conference, theoretically rotating every five seasons
  3. For Central and West division teams playing four interconference games: one intraconference opponent from the five-team East Division of their own conference[lower-alpha 5]
  4. For all East division teams: three intraconference opponents rotating on a cycle of five years or longer.[16]

In 1976 and 1977, one interconference game was deleted from almost all teams’ schedules to make room for games against the expansion Seattle Seahawks or Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

1978 to 1994

In 1978, NFL scheduling was substantially changed because the pre-setting of all opponents many years beforehand had produced extremely frequent large inequalities in strength of schedule. The NFL attempted to remedy this by basing non-division conference opponents upon position in the preceding season, so that most non-division conference games would be played between teams finishing in the same position during the preceding season. Unlike between 1970 and 1977, there would be no rotary schedule for non-division games within a team’s own conference. However, interconference games remained based on a rotation, with most teams now playing four opponents from a division in the other conference on a three-year cycle.[17] There was a special so-called "last place" or "fifth-place" schedule for teams who finished in last place in a five-team division. In addition to their division games, a team who finished in last place in the previous season would also primarily play the other teams who finished in last place in their respective divisions (the intraconference one would be played twice to fill a void otherwise taken by a third team that finished the same place), plus all the clubs in the four team division in their conference. An example of this is also shown to the right. Teams in a four-team division[lower-alpha 6] played only six divisional games, as opposed to the eight that teams in five-team divisions had played. This void would be filled by having to play against the fifth-place teams in their conference in addition to their regular scheduling, hence tying to the fifth-place schedule.[18]

More information POS, AFC East ...
More information POS, AFC East ...
This is an example of the formula used for determining opponents for teams that finished in last place in each of the five-team divisions between 1978 and 1994, when the league consisted of 28 teams playing 16 games each. The 1990 New England Patriots finished in last place in the AFC East. Therefore, in 1991, they played all of their division rivals (marked in blue) twice each, one game against each team in the four-team AFC Central (marked in yellow), two games against the last-place finisher in the AFC West (marked in orange), and one game each against the last-place finishers in the NFC East and NFC Central (marked in red).
This is an example of the formula used for determining a team's opponents between 1995 and 1998, when the league consisted of six divisions of five teams each. The 1996 San Francisco 49ers finished in second place in the NFC West. Therefore, in 1997, the 49ers played all their division rivals (marked in blue) twice each, one game each against the other second-place finishers in the NFC (marked in orange), one game against one additional team in the NFC East and NFC Central (marked in red), and one game against each team in the AFC West (marked in yellow) except for the 4th-place Raiders (marked in silver).

During these years, teams in five-team divisions who did not finish last would not face any fifth-place team outside their division, whether or not those teams were intraconference.

This scheduling system meant that, apart from the AFC Central and NFC West, all of whose teams would regularly meet every three years, teams would not necessarily play teams outside their division on a regular basis, although teams who never finished fifth would play teams in the other conference who likewise avoided last position on the same three-season cycle. For example, between 1970 (when the leagues merged) and 2002 (when the current schedule was introduced), the Denver Broncos and the Miami Dolphins played only six times, including a stretch where they met only once between 1976 and 1997,[19] whilst owing to frequent fifth-place finishes and a scratched 1977 meeting, the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs met just four times in the same period, including a period between 1973 and 1991 when they did not meet at all.[20]

1995 to 1998

When the divisions were balanced between 1995 and 1998, each team would play a home and away series against their divisional rivals (8 games), two teams from each of the other divisions within the conference (two having finished the same place, and two others determined by where they placed in the standings), and four teams from a division in the other conference by the aforementioned rotary basis. Initially, team standings would determine which team in the interconference division would not be played. The team not opposed would have the "polar opposite" place (i.e.: 1st is the polar opposite of 5th) in their division, although after 1997 all teams outside the AFC Central were scheduled to play every team in the opposite conference four times (twice at home and twice away) between 1995 and 2009.[21] An example of this schedule can be seen to the right.

Regular season expansion (2021-present)

Prior to the 2011 collective bargaining agreement (CBA), there had been proposals to expand the regular season schedule to 17 or 18 games per team. However, a longer regular season proposal was defeated in the 2011 labor negotiations between the owners and the players association.[22][23]

One of the proposals for the 17th and 18th games was to have every team play at least one game abroad every year.[24] Another idea put forth by Houston Texans owner Bob McNair before his death was to move the traditional regional rivalries that are currently played in the preseason (such as the Governor's Cups) into a permanent annual part of each NFL team's schedule.[25] The NFL Players' Association opposed extending the season, largely because of injury concerns, and extending the season would require that such an extension be included in the next CBA. The collective bargaining agreement signed in 2011 maintained the sixteen game regular season schedule.

The 2020 CBA allowed for an expansion of the regular season to seventeen games. The team owners voted in March 2021 to institute the expanded schedule beginning with the 2021 season.[26] Each team's 17th game will match them up against an interconference opponent from a division that specified team was not going to play against before the addition of the 17th game and from the division schedule rotation from two seasons prior, with AFC teams hosting the extra games in odd-numbered years, while NFC teams host extra games in even-numbered years.[26][27][28][29] Since that time the NFL has continued to push for an 18 game regular season however the current CBA has mandates a 17 game season until its expiration in 2031. In addition, it also has a provision that the maximum amount of international games that can be played in a season is 10 games until the 2025 season.[30]

Scheduled division matchups

This chart displays the current schedule of division matchups, based on the three-year intraconference and four-year interconference rotations in place since 2002, and the additional interconference "17th game" in place since 2021. In each year, all four teams in each division listed at the top will play one game against all four teams in both of the divisions to which it has been assigned — one from the AFC, the other from the NFC. In addition, every division is assigned to play its extra interconference game against one team from the division it played two years before.[26][27][28][29] Since the schedule expansion was implemented for the 2021 NFL regular season, the eighteenth and final week of the NFL regular season has involved matchups against divisional opponents for all 32 NFL teams, as it had been since 2010, as a result, Week 18 has been unofficially termed by fans as "Rivalry Week" as the final week matchups are often games that involve the biggest rivalries in the NFL.[14]

Regular season games played outside the U.S.

To date, several NFL regular season games have been played outside the U.S. The first was the 2005 game between the Arizona Cardinals and the San Francisco 49ers, which was played in Mexico City.

In October 2006, NFL club owners approved a plan to stage up to two international regular season games per season beginning in 2007 and continuing through at least 2011.[32] The New York Giants and the Miami Dolphins played at Wembley Stadium in London on October 28, 2007 for the first of these games.[33][34] A second game in London took place on Sunday 26 October 2008, when the San Diego Chargers took on the nominal “home team” New Orleans Saints, also at Wembley.[35] The New England Patriots were the designated visitors when they beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 35–7 on October 25, 2009.[36][37]

The long term plan was originally to have two international games played every year, on a 16-year rotating schedule that would guarantee that each team would get to play twice over that span: once as the home team and once as the away team. This was abandoned when the St. Louis Rams, who were co-owned with Arsenal, a prominent soccer team in London, signed a three-year agreement to be the home team in the International Series games in London. This plan has since been re-established after the Rams announced that they would not be returning to England in 2013; the Rams would return to London as host team in 2016.

Since, the NFL has announced that the Jacksonville Jaguars will play one home game a season at Wembley, up to and including 2016, later extended to 2020. Their first game, versus the San Francisco 49ers, saw the 49ers winning comfortably.[38] A second game was played at Wembley for the first time, with the Minnesota Vikings hosting and beating the Pittsburgh Steelers.[39] Meanwhile, a record three fixtures were announced from the 2014 season, with the Jacksonville Jaguars hosting the Dallas Cowboys, the Atlanta Falcons hosting the Detroit Lions and the Oakland Raiders hosting the Miami Dolphins at Wembley.[40]

The Buffalo Bills played one regular season game each year from 2008 through 2013 in Toronto as part of the Bills Toronto Series; two preseason games were also played as part of the same series. Poor ticket sales, fan disgust in Buffalo and the death of Bills owner Ralph Wilson prompted the cancellation of the series in 2014.

From the 2022 season, each team will host at least one international game every eight years.[41]

Disruptions of the schedule

Conflicts with other sports leagues and organizations

From the beginnings of the NFL, some teams shared stadiums with Major League Baseball teams, with MLB teams holding leases giving them priority. The NFL was required to schedule around September baseball games. In October, this frequently resulted in NFL teams having to reschedule on short notice if the MLB team in their city made the playoffs: on some occasions, the NFL game could be moved to Saturday or Monday. The NFL would often schedule October division games so that teams would be able to swap home game dates if it appeared that the MLB playoff schedule would make a stadium unavailable to the NFL. Perhaps the most extreme case was in 1973, when the New York Jets played at Shea Stadium; the Jets were forced to play their first six games on the road, including being forced to move a home game against the Steelers from New York to Pittsburgh, as the Mets were playing in the World Series. As more MLB teams started to move into baseball-only stadiums by the 1990s and 2000s, this became less of a problem.

Since 2020, there have been no stadiums shared by MLB and NFL teams following the relocation of the Raiders from Oakland to Las Vegas. However, five NFL teams currently share a venue with a Major League Soccer team, and five share venues with college football teams:[lower-alpha 1]

However, there are still eight NFL and MLB venues that share parking lots — as such, the NFL typically schedules these teams to play on the road when their MLB counterpart is at home:

While both NFL and MLB teams play in downtown stadiums in Cleveland, Denver and Minneapolis, the teams do not share the same parking lots as they play in different parts of the downtown area. Therefore, it is possible for the Browns, Broncos and Vikings to play home games on the same day the Guardians, Rockies and Twins, respectively, play at home.

In 2013, the Super Bowl XLVII champion Baltimore Ravens were forced to open on the road due to their MLB counterparts, the Baltimore Orioles, being scheduled at home on the same day as the Week 1 NFL Kickoff game, and the Orioles declined to either reschedule or relocate their home game.[lower-alpha 7]

The Super Bowl XLVIII champion Seattle Seahawks averted this conflict for the 2014 season opener, as their MLB counterparts, the Seattle Mariners, played on the road; their respective venues also share the same parking lot. The Seattle Sounders FC also played on the road during the opening week of the 2014 NFL season, assuring no scheduling conflicts. The Buffalo Bills also hosted one game a year at the Rogers Centre, which is the home of the Toronto Blue Jays, but this was only an issue in the preseason, since all such regular season games were scheduled after the end of the World Series.

Labor disputes

The 1982 and 1987 seasons were both shortened by labor disputes. The 1982 strike lasted 57 days. Weeks 3 through 10 were canceled, but an additional week was added to make a 9-game schedule. The 1982 playoff matchups were determined by conference standings only. The 1987 strike and subsequent lockout lasted 24 days but only one week of the schedule was lost. Weeks 4 through 6 were played with non-union replacement players. The rest of the season was played as originally scheduled, for a total of 15 games per team.

In the event that the 2011 season had been disrupted because of a then-ongoing labor dispute, the NFL had arranged its schedule to facilitate easier cancellations and postponements. In addition to an emergency scenario of an eight-game schedule beginning in late November, the NFL also arranged its full-length schedule such that weeks 2 and 4 had no division games and all week 3 matchups could be moved into each team's respective bye week. The league also had a contingency plan to postpone Super Bowl XLVI one week, which (assuming a full playoff schedule, but eliminating the bye-week before the Super Bowl and moving the Super Bowl back one week) would allow a 14-game schedule with all six division games for each team to be played beginning as late as October 16.

Natural disasters

Several games have been postponed or relocated because of natural disasters. In 1989, Candlestick Park was damaged by the Loma Prieta earthquake. The San Francisco 49ers would play their game on October 22, 1989 against the New England Patriots at Stanford Stadium at Stanford University. A few days before the start of the 2005 NFL season, the Louisiana Superdome was severely damaged by Hurricane Katrina, and much of the city of New Orleans was destroyed. The Saints' eight scheduled home games were moved to other locations, including Giants Stadium, the Alamodome in San Antonio, and Tiger Stadium on the campus of Louisiana State University. On September 14, 2008, the Houston Texans were scheduled to host the Baltimore Ravens. The game was postponed until November 9 because of Hurricane Ike (which caused some damage to Reliant Stadium) and several other changes had to be made to the schedule. On August 29, 2021, Hurricane Ida made landfall in Louisiana, causing severe damage to New Orleans; the New Orleans Saints' season opener against the Green Bay Packers, scheduled for September 12 at the Superdome, was moved to TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, Florida.[42]

The Miami Dolphins have been involved in a number of games that were moved to a different time and date. A few of those games would include 1992 against the New England Patriots (Hurricane Andrew), 2004 against the Tennessee Titans (Hurricane Ivan) and the Pittsburgh Steelers (Hurricane Jeanne), 2005 against the Kansas City Chiefs (Hurricane Wilma), 2017 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Hurricane Irma), and others.[43][44][45][46]

The roof of the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome collapsed on December 12, 2010 after a severe heavy snowstorm, resulting in the stadium being unusable for the remainder of the season. The last two of the Vikings' home games had to be moved: one to Ford Field in Detroit (which also led to the game being postponed the following Monday night) and another to TCF Bank Stadium, the University of Minnesota's college football stadium. In December 2010, a Minnesota Vikings–Philadelphia Eagles game originally scheduled for the afternoon of Sunday, December 26, a time at which it could have been successfully completed, had two weeks earlier been flexed by NBC to Sunday night and was postponed to Tuesday, December 28, due to a strong Nor'easter. In 2014, the Week 12 visit of the Jets to Buffalo was moved to Detroit (and from Sunday to Monday) due to severe snow in Western New York the previous week.

Other major news events

The American Football League, the precursor to today's American Football Conference, postponed Week 12 of the 1963 season because of the assassination of President Kennedy, on Friday, November 22. The AFL's games were made up by adding a 15th week to a 14-week schedule. The older and more established National Football League went ahead and played as scheduled on Sunday, November 24, 1963.

In 2001, Week 2 of the season was postponed because of the September 11 attacks. At the end of the originally planned 17-week schedule, Week 2 games were played on Sunday, January 6 and Monday, January 7, 2002. The post-season schedule was moved back a week, including Super Bowl XXXVI (the NFL temporarily eliminated the bye week before the Super Bowl for the 2001 and 2002 after moving the start of the season back a week, leaving them with no choice but to push the game back a week after the earlier postponements.)

In 2020, the league added contingencies in its schedule similar to those made for the labor dispute in 2011 in case the season had to be delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Every game in Week 2 featured teams that shared the same bye week later in the season, which would have allowed these games to be made up on the teams' original byes. Weeks 3 and 4 were set up so that there were no divisional games and that every team at home in Week 3 was away in Week 4 and vice versa. This would have allowed the NFL to cancel these two weeks without eliminating any divisional games and keeping each team's home and away games balanced. These scheduling changes, along with eliminating the week off before the Super Bowl and moving the Super Bowl back three weeks, would have allowed the NFL to play a 14-game schedule beginning October 29 while still playing the Super Bowl in February.[47][48]

See also


  1. Due to the Sports Broadcasting Act of 1961, which prevents NFL and NCAA games from being played at the same time,[3] Saturday games are only played in December and January, after the conclusion of the NCAA regular season. The Act also prevents competition for stadiums shared between college and NFL football.
  2. For example, a team that finished first in the previous season will play another first-place team.
  3. For example, a team that finished last in its division the previous season will play another last-place team of their respective division.
  4. This also applied to those teams — always from the Central or West divisions of either conference and always one per season — who played four interconference games in a season, although matchups involving these teams would have occurred more than three times every thirteen seasons.
  5. Theoretically, this would alter the cycle of rotating intraconference opponents to a longer cycle as the team playing four interconference games in the NFC was rotated on an eight-year cycle between all eight teams in the NFC Central and NFC West.
  6. Between 1978 and 1994, the AFC Central (Bengals, Browns, Oilers and Steelers) and NFC West (Falcons, 49ers, Rams and Saints) were the two four-team divisions.
  7. MLB typically releases the schedule for an upcoming season prior to the end of the previous season, forcing the NFL to accommodate the scheduling needs of teams who share parking lots or stadiums with MLB teams, while MLS typically releases their season schedule well ahead of the NFL’s schedule release.


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  3. "NFL Flexible Scheduling". Archived from the original on 2013-04-11.
  4. "Separation of Church and Football". The Washington Post. June 18, 1982. Retrieved December 11, 2021.
  5. Associated Press (2002-09-05). "Niners edge Giants on late field goal 16–13". Archived from the original on 2006-09-13. Retrieved 2006-11-17.
  6. "Creating the NFL Schedule". Retrieved 2018-01-07.
  7. "New York Jets vs. Cleveland Browns Results". The Football Database. Retrieved November 18, 2021.
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