National Football League regular season

The National Football League ( NFL) begins the weekend after Labor Day. The regular season lasts 17 weeks, during these discharges each team 16 games. Traditionally, most games are played on Sunday afternoons. However i.d.R. are per week ever a game on Sunday night and one on Monday evening ( Monday Night Football ) discharged. On some game days games are also held on Thursdays. In the final weeks of the regular season ( after the NCAA football regular season has ended ) designed the league the game board so that a couple of extra games can be transferred across the U.S. on TV, usually on Saturdays or Thursday evenings.

In addition, the Dallas Cowboys and the Detroit Lions traditionally wear a home game on Thanksgiving from (Thanksgiving Classic). Since 2006, a third game in prime time is set on this day, respectively.


In the early years from 1920, the NFL had no fixed program. The teams played a minimum of 8 and a maximum of 16 games, many of them against independent professional teams, college teams and amateur teams. From 1926 to 1946 every NFL team per season was from 11 to 15 games, depending on the number of teams made ​​up the league. From 1947 to 1960, respectively 12 games per team, per season were on the board. 1960 implemented the new competition founded League American Football League a game plan, fought out loud which each team 14 games in 15 weeks. Each of the eight teams played twice against each other and had no play on a weekend. The NFL responded in 1961 on the extension of the regular season to 14 games. From 1961 to 1977, the NFL played 14 games in 14 weeks. Beginning of the season was at that time the weekend after Labor Day, sometimes 1-2 weeks later. The teams played an additional 6-7 Exhibition Games. 1977 extended the NFL the Regular Season Schedule to 16 games, which led to a reduction of the Exhibition Games on 4. Until 1989, these 16 games were played in 16 weeks.

In 1990, the NFL play-free weekend per team on ( 16 games in 17 weeks). This led to the Labor Day weekend as the season starts. In 1993 there were two play-free weekend per team, but they returned in 1994 back to a.

Since 2002, the NFL is a US-wide televised regular season kickoff game on Thursday night after Labor Day. The first carried the New York Giants against the San Francisco 49ers on September 5, 2002, in commemoration of 9 / 11th Since 2004 the reigning Super Bowl champion carries the Kickoff Game as a home game as the official launch of its title defense. Earliest start of the season can September 4 (as in 2008 when September 1st was a Monday ) and the latest possible start of the season is the 10th of September ( as in 2009 when September 1 was a Tuesday ).


There currently sit 16 games, which discharges any team during the regular season, according to the following predefined system together:

  • Each team plays twice against each of the other three teams in the division: once at home, once away (6 games)
  • Each team plays once against all four teams another division of their own Conference according to a three - year rotation principle: two games of it at home, two away (4 games)
  • Each team plays once against all four teams a different division of the other Conference according to a 4- year rotation principle: two games of it at home, two away (4 games)
  • Each team plays once against the other teams of their own conference who is in the pre-season in their division the same place as the team itself, with the exception of the team from the division will be played anyway against this season: one game at home, one away (2 games)

This schedule ensures that all teams at least every 4 years to play against each other team and have to play at least every eight years at the stadium every other team. He also guarantees that wiefolgt put together the opponents each team, regardless of its placement in the preseason:

  • 4 games against teams that finished the preseason for the 1st place of their division,
  • 4 games against teams that finished the preseason on the 2nd place of their division,
  • 4 games against teams that finished the preseason on the 3rd place of their division and
  • 4 games against teams who have completed the pre-season in 4th place of their division.

Example using the presented above right game plan for the Browns 2009: The Browns have completed the pre-season (2008) in 4th place of their division, so they play 2009:

  • 4 games against first place finisher (2x Steelers, Chargers 1x, 1x Vikings )
  • 4 games against runner-up (2x Ravens, Broncos 1x, 1x Bears)
  • 4 games against third-place finisher (2x Bengals, Raiders 1x, 1x Packers )
  • 4 games against fourth-placed (1x Bills, Jaguars 1x, 1x Chiefs, Lions 1x )

, Prior to 2002, when the league was expanded to 32 teams, the NFL used similar game plans, they differed due to the different number of teams and divisions. Between 1970 and 1994 and again between 1999 and 2001 the league had different number of teams per division (4 or 5 ) and therefore not completely balanced game plan. 1995-1998 was the only time after the merger of the NFL and AFL in 1970 that the league " balanced " was, that is, each of the 6 divisions comprised five teams. In addition, each team played before 2002 always against four teams from the other conference on a rotating basis, but there was no principle of rotation within its own Conference. This meant that an AFC team, although regularly competing against all the teams in the NFC, but it could happen that it did not play a much longer time for another AFC. For example, met the Denver Broncos and the Miami Dolphins (both AFC) 1970-2002 only six times successively, and 1976-1997 in 22 season only once. With the current program they meet another every three years.

According to the 2009 season, an entire cycle was completed in 2002, ie Each team played against each at least once at home and once away. For the next cycle, the game plan was readily adapted va to the east coast teams to spare a repeated arrival to the west coast. According to the 2002 cycle, the teams that played against the AFC West teams in the same season to Oakland and arrive to San Diego had, and those who played the NFC West teams in the same season to San Francisco and Seattle. In the 2008 season, the New England Patriots and the New York Jets had to play away against all four of the aforementioned West Coast teams. According to the 2010 cycle, the teams must travel in the same season only to one of the West Coast team ( AFC West or NFC West ) and the second away game against a team that is closer to home to the Midwest, deny:

  • AFC: held in Oakland in Denver and held in San Diego in Kansas City
  • NFC: held in Seattle in Arizona and held in San Francisco in St. Louis

There were also proposals to extend the regular season to 17 or 18 games per team. Commissioner Roger Goodell advocated an extension to 18 games, but said that such a thing would not take place before 2011 .. The NFL Player 's Association refused to renew and reasoned that with the fear of increasing the risk of injury and also had a longer regular season also affect on the next Collective Bargaining Agreement, which expires in 2011.


For the next two seasons of the Schedule provides for the following distribution before:

Games outside the U.S.

The first NFL game of regular season outside the United States in 2005 was fought between the San Francisco 49ers and the Arizona Cardinals in Mexico City.

In October 2006, the club owner decided one to two games per season over a period between 2007 and 2011 to discharge outside the U.S..:

  • The Miami Dolphins ( as the home team ) and the New York Giants played on 28 October 2007 at Wembley Stadium in London
  • The New Orleans Saints ( as the home team ) and the San Diego Chargers played 26 October 2008 also at Wembley Stadium.
  • The Tampa Bay Buccaneers ( as the home team ) and the New England Patriots ( 7-35 ) disputed the third game on October 25, 2009.

The long-term plan is to deny two games per season outside the United States after a 16 - year rotation principle. So each team would participate twice, once as a home and away team at once from such a game.

The Buffalo Bills were planning from 2008 to 2012 eight games in Toronto discharge, including five games of the regular season (one per season) and three games in the Preseason:

  • The first was a preseason game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on August 14, 2008.
  • The third game denied the Bills against the New York Jets on December 3, 2009.