How Does the NFL Schedule Work?
The NFL schedule determines who each team will face during the regular season of each NFL season. Across 18 weeks there are 272 NFL games that need scheduling while taking into account the availability of stadiums, international games, travel circumstances, and bye weeks. It's a mammoth task that has to work between the two conferences, eight divisions, and all thirty-two teams.
There is also a particular formula that has to be followed when deciding which opponents each NFL team will face.
The first thing that needs to be done is to decide on the list of opponents before they can be put together for the final schedule. The opponents that each team will face are decided by the following method:
Six games against divisional teams.
Four against teams coming from one division in the same conference on a yearly rotation.
Four against teams from one division in the other conference – again on a yearly rotation.
Two games are against either of the other divisions within the same conference. These are played against teams that finished in the same position in their division the previous season. For example, if a team finished first in their division, they would play two teams from two divisions within their conference who also finished first.
The one last remaining game is played against an opponent from a division that hasn’t already appeared from the previous points. This game is again scheduled against a team that finished in the same position within their division.
On top of this, there is a rotation system in place so every team has to play each other at least every four seasons. The NFL also deploys “flexible scheduling,”which allows for the best matchups to be placed in prime-time slots later in the season.
Teams know their opponents for the following season at the end of the existing season but don’t find out how they are scheduled until later in the year. The NFL tries to schedule their best matchups in prime slots - generally Thursday Night Football, Sunday Night Football, and Monday Night Football, although matchups are also scheduled for Thanksgiving and Christmas and games on a Saturday between Week 15 and 18.
NFL schedule release day has become a huge day in the NFL calendar, with games being teased and leaked in advance and teams making a huge deal with their announcements and videos going viral.
How Many Weeks Is the Regular Season Schedule?
There are 18 weeks in the NFL regular season. The opponents are decided using a certain method while the schedule of those opponents is decided by a mixture of a computer and a scheduling committee.
There are six games that are the same every year for each NFL team – their divisional games – games played against the three other teams in the team's own division both home and away.
When Do NFL Bye Weeks Start?
A bye week is a rest week for NFL teams, and they run from Week 5 to 14 during the NFL regular season. Every team gets one bye week per season, allowing a team time to rest and recuperate after the intensity of NFL games, affording players time to heal from injuries and giving coaches extra prep time to reevaluate game plans for the weeks ahead.
The amount of teams on byes in any given week ranges from two to six. The 2023 bye weeks are:
Week 5: Cleveland Browns, Los Angeles Chargers, Seattle Seahawks, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Week 6: Green Bay Packers, Pittsburgh Steelers
Week 7: Carolina Panthers, Cincinnati Bengals, Dallas Cowboys, Houston Texans, New York Jets, Tennessee TItans
Week 9: Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars, San Francisco 49ers
Week 10: Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Rams, Miami Dolphins, Philadelphia Eagles
Week 11: Atlanta Falcons, Indianapolis Colts, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints
Week 13: Baltimore Ravens, Buffalo Bills, Chicago Bears, Las Vegas Raiders, Minnesota Vikings, New York Giants
Week 14: Arizona Cardinals, Washington Commanders
When Do the NFL Playoffs Start?
The 2023-2024 NFL Playoffs are due to start on January 13, 2024, starting with the Wild Card Round and ending in the Super Bowl in February. Two games will start on the Saturday of Wild Card Weekend, with the remaining four games being played on Sunday and Monday.
The playoffs then continue until the Super Bowl in Las Vegas.
How Many Weeks Are the Playoffs?
The NFL Playoffs are the NFL’s postseason event where fourteen teams, seven from each conference, progress from the NFL regular season. The NFL Playoffs last for four weeks, with teams facing off in elimination games in four different rounds.
The NFL Playoffs start with the Wild Card Round, where the No. 1 seed in each conference gets a bye. The winning teams progress to the Divisional Round, before moving to the Conference Championships and if they are so lucky, the Super Bowl.
When Is the NFL Super Bowl?
The 2023 NFL season ends with the Super Bowl on February 11, 2024. The game is played between the winner of the American Football Conference and the winner of the National Football Conference.
Super Bowl LVIII will take place on February 11, 2024 in Las Vegas, Nevada in Allegiant Stadium, home to the Las Vegas Raiders. The Super Bowl will be broadcast on CBS at the end of the 2023 season before starting a yearly rotation between CBS, FOX, NBC, and ESPN for the next eleven years.
How Is the NFL Schedule Decided?
The NFL schedule is decided by a supercomputer that takes into account huge amounts of data, creating thousands of outcomes and possibilities. With advancements in computer technology, the jobs of NFL committee members have gotten a lot easier. The data and rules are inputted into the software quickly along with decisions that have already been made by the scheduling committee.
The NFL schedulers may have already decided on games they want to show in prime-time slots and on holidays, as well as who will play in that season's international games. The computer builds thousands of potential schedules, with the schedulers slowly narrowing down possibilities until they get to their final decision.
When making their calculations the computer has to follow the strict protocol that has been set out, while also analyzing travel difficulties, potential international games, bye weeks, the availability of each NFL stadium, fan enjoyment, logistics, and many other intricate details.
The ultimate decision on the NFL schedule however, falls to six NFL executives. In 2023, they are:
Michael North - Vice President of Broadcasting
Howard Katz - Senior Vice President of Broadcasting
Blake Jones- Senior Director of Broadcasting
Charlotte Carey - Director of Broadcasting
Onnie Bose - Vice President of Broadcasting
Lucy Popko- Broadcasting Senior Coordinator
How Long Is the NFL Offseason?
The NFL offseason can last from 11 to 15 weeks depending on how far a team goes in the playoffs. Non-playoff teams get 15 weeks rest; those that go deep into the playoffs get less. At the end of those rest weeks, training camps start, which typically last six weeks prior to the start of the NFL season.
The NFL offseason encompasses free Agency, the NFL Combine, the NFL Draft, and the start of the new league year.