The NFL schedule is set for Week 18. It’s the final week of the 2021 NFL regular season — the first year the regular season spanned a total of 18 weeks.
In years past, all 16 NFL games were played on the final Sunday of the regular season. This year is a bit different, however. The NFL waited to flex three games out of their regular Sunday window, moving two games to Saturday to a national audience with NFL playoff implications. They flexed the third to the Sunday Night Football window, the final game of the regular season.
Week 18 NFL Schedule
What is the schedule for Week 18 of the 2021 NFL season? Which six teams will play in the prime slots on Saturday and Sunday?
Saturday, January 8, 2022
- Chiefs @ Broncos | 4:30 PM | ESPN/ABC
- Cowboys @ Eagles | 8:15 PM | ESPN/ABC
Sunday, January 9, 2022
- Steelers @ Ravens | 1 PM | CBS
- Bengals @ Browns | 1 PM | FOX
- Packers @ Lions | 1 PM | FOX
- Titans @ Texans | 1 PM | CBS
- Colts @ Jaguars | 1 PM | CBS
- Bears @ Vikings | 1 PM | FOX
- Washington @ Giants | 1 PM | FOX
- Saints @ Falcons | 4:25 PM | FOX
- Jets @ Bills | 4:25 PM | CBS
- Panthers @ Buccaneers | 4:25 PM | CBS
- Patriots @ Dolphins | 4:25 PM | CBS
- Seahawks @ Cardinals | 4:25 PM | FOX
- 49ers @ Rams | 4:25 PM | FOX
- Chargers @ Raiders | 8:20 PM | NBC
The three Week 18 prime-time games will all have playoff implications
The NFL schedule-makers did not quite pull off the three blockbuster, playoff-deciding Week 18 games that it was initially hoping for. The way the last couple of weeks played out removed some of the drama from Week 18. However, there are still spots or seedings up for grabs, and the NFL has featured games with significant consequences in its three Week 18 prime-time spots.
First up on Saturday is Kansas City against Denver. The Broncos have been eliminated, but the Chiefs still have plenty to play for. If the Chiefs win, they transfer the pressure for the No. 1 seed onto the Tennessee Titans. Nonetheless, if the Broncos win, the No. 1 seed could still be in reach for the Bengals.
With the Green Bay Packers clinching the No. 1 seed in the NFC, the drama has come out for the Cowboys a little. Still, if Dallas wins in Week 18, they have a chance to go up to the No. 2 seed if results fall their way Sunday. They would need both the Rams and Buccaneers to lose, but they can at least apply the pressure. The Eagles have already clinched their playoff spot but could climb into the No. 6 seed if they win and the 49ers lose.
Whatever happens Saturday and Sunday, the Sunday Night Football game between the Raiders and Chargers will be a playoff elimination game. Assuming the Colts win, only one of these teams can make it. That will make for an incredible finale to the 2021 NFL season with two AFC West teams battling it out.
There is a nightmare Week 18 schedule scenario for the NFL
There is a scenario where if the Colts lose, the Chargers and Raiders could both get in. That would require a Chargers victory or a tie. Now, it is extremely unlikely that the Colts will lose to the Jaguars. However, it could be a nightmare for the NFL if they head into Sunday Night Football with both teams knowing a certain result would put them both in.
The NFL was thrown into controversy last year when the Eagles essentially laid down and allowed the Washington Football Team to beat them and clinch a playoff spot. The NFL would hope the Raiders won’t be as accommodating against their rivals if they have a chance to eliminate them. However, if the Chargers jump out to a lead, we could see the Raiders deciding that resting players is more important than fighting in a semi-lost cause. The NFL Week 18 schedule-makers will be praying that the Colts win and this does not become an issue.