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National Football League
Upcoming season or competition:
Current sports event 2018 NFL season
National Football League logo.svg
Formerly American Professional Football Conference (1920)
American Professional Football Association (1920–1921)
Sport American football
Founded August 20, 1920; 97 years ago
Inaugural season 1920
Commissioner Roger Goodell
No. of teams 32
Country United States[A]
Headquarters New York City
champion(s) Philadelphia Eagles
Most titles Green Bay Packers
TV partner(s) CBS
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The National Football League (NFL) is a professional American football league consisting of 32 teams, divided equally between the National Football Conference (NFC) and the American Football Conference (AFC). The NFL is one of the four major professional sports leagues in North America, and the highest professional level of American football in the world. The NFL’s 17-week regular season runs from early September to late December, with each team playing 16 games and having one bye week. Following the conclusion of the regular season, six teams from each conference (four division winners and two wild card teams) advance to the playoffs, a single-elimination tournament culminating in the Super Bowl, which is usually held in the first Sunday in February, and is played between the champions of the NFC and AFC.The NFL announced its 17-week, 256-game regular-season schedule for 2018, which kicks off Thursday, Sept. 6 in Philadelphia and ends Sunday, Dec. 30 with all teams in action in 16 division games.
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The season begins with the NFL’s annual primetime kickoff game, as the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles host the Atlanta Falcons at Lincoln Financial Field on Sept. 6 (8:20 PM ET, NBC).
Week 1, a FOX national weekend on Sunday, Sept. 9, features the Dallas Cowboys at the Carolina Panthers (4:25 PM ET) and the Seattle Seahawks visiting the Denver Broncos (4:25 PM ET). Week 1 CBS matchups include the Houston Texans at the New England Patriots (1 PM ET) and the Los Angeles Chargers hosting the Kansas City Chiefs (4:05 PM ET). Week 2, the first CBS doubleheader weekend, showcases the Oakland Raiders at the Broncos (4:25 PM ET) and the Patriots visiting the Jacksonville Jaguars (4:25 PM ET).
NBC’s Sunday Night Football starts Sept. 9 when the Green Bay Packers host the Chicago Bears (8:20 PM ET) at Lambeau Field in the 195th regular-season meeting between the storied franchises.
Kickoff Weekend concludes on Monday, Sept. 10 with an ESPN Monday Night Football doubleheader. The Detroit Lions host the New York Jets (7:10 PM ET) in the first game, and the Los Angeles Rams visit the Raiders in the nightcap (10:20 PM ET).
ESPN will televise one Monday night game in Weeks 2-16. There is no Monday night game on Week 17 to provide more flexibility for scheduling the opening weekend of the NFL playoffs.
Thursday night games kick off at 8:20 PM ET, five minutes earlier that last season’s 8:25 starts, Sunday night games start at 8:20 PM ET, up from 8:30 PM, and Monday night games at 8:15 PM ET, 15 minutes earlier than the 8:30 PM starts in 2017. All 32 clubs are scheduled for at least one Thursday, Sunday or Monday night game.
FOX’s Thursday Night Football package begins in Week 4, with a showdown of NFC playoff teams, as the Minnesota Vikings visit the Rams at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (8:20 PM ET, FOX/NFLN). FOX will broadcast 11 Thursday Night Football games between Weeks 4-15 — except for Thanksgiving night — with those games being simulcast on NFL Network and in Spanish on FOX Deportes. NFL Network will exclusively air seven games this season, with FOX producing the full slate of 18 games.
Select games will be “cross-flexed” between CBS and FOX to bring under-distributed games to wider audiences. Some of those games are scheduled, while other “cross-flexed” games will be decided during the season.
The regular season ends on Sunday, Dec. 30, when, for the ninth straight year, all 16 Week 17 games scheduled are division contests with the potential for more games with playoff ramifications.
Nine 2018 regular season games are rematches from the 2017 postseason. In Week 2, Jacksonville hosts New England in an AFC Championship Game rematch (4:25 PM ET, CBS), and Minnesota travels to Philadelphia in a Week 5 rematch of the 2017 NFC Championship Game (4:25 PM ET, FOX).
Thanksgiving features three divisional matchups on Thursday, Nov. 22 for only the second time since 1970 (2014). The day starts when the Bears visit Detroit (12:30 PM ET, CBS), the Washington Redskins visit the Cowboys in the late afternoon game (4:30 PM ET, FOX), and an NFC South showdown end the action as the Falcons travel to New Orleans to face the Saints on NBC (8:20 PM ET).
The NFL’s four international games includes three in London — one each in Weeks 6, 7 and 8 — and another in Mexico City. English Premier League soccer club Tottenham Hotspur’s new stadium hosts the first game of the 2018 London Series in Week 6 on Sunday, Oct. 14, as the Raiders host the Seahawks (1 PM ET, FOX). The next week, the NFL returns to Wembley Stadium as the Chargers host the Tennessee Titans on Sunday, Oct. 21 (9:30 AM ET, CBS). The series concludes Week 8 when the Jaguars host the Eagles at Wembley on Sunday, Oct. 28 (9:30 AM ET, NFLN).
For the third consecutive season, the NFL returns to Mexico City’s Estadio Azteca. On Monday, Nov. 19, the Rams host the Chiefs on Monday Night Football (8:15 PM ET, ESPN).
Each of the NFL’s 32 teams play 16 games over 17 weeks. Byes begin in Week 4 and end in Week 12. “Flexible scheduling” will be used in Weeks 11-17, while no more than two games during Weeks 5-10 may be flexed.
In Weeks 5-16, games tentatively set for Sunday Night Football on NBC can be replaced by Sunday afternoon games, with the tentatively scheduled night game moving to an earlier start. Flexible scheduling moves will be announced at least 12 days before the game.
There is flexibility for Saturday games in Weeks 15 and 16 as well. In Week 15, two games will be played on Saturday on NFL Network: Houston at the Jets and Cleveland at Denver, with the game times of 4:30 PM ET and 8:20 PM ET to be determined. In Week 16, two of four possible matchups will be scheduled for Saturday: Baltimore at the Chargers, Jacksonville at Miami, the New York Giants at Indianapolis or Washington at Tennessee. Start times and matchups for Week 15 and 16 will be announced no later than after Week 8, The games not played on Saturday will be played on Sunday.
The Week 17 Sunday night game will be announced no later than six days before Dec. 30. The schedule does not list a Sunday night game in Week 17, but an afternoon game with playoff implications will be moved to that time slot. Flexible scheduling ensures quality matchups in all Sunday time slots, and gives “surprise” teams a chance to play their way into primetime.
Flexible scheduling does not apply to Thursday or Monday night games.
The playoffs, with four division winners and two wild cards from each conference, begin with Wild Card Weekend on Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 5-6. The two division winners with the best records in each conference earn first-round byes.
Wild Card Weekend winners join the top division champions in the Divisional Playoffs on Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 12-13. The AFC and NFC Championship Games will be played on Sunday, Jan. 20, with the winners meeting two weeks later in Super Bowl LIII at Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium (CBS) on Sunday, Feb. 3.
The NFL is the only sports league that presents all regular-season and postseason games on free, over-the-air television in local markets, and all postseason games are televised nationally.
Westwood One broadcasts on radio all NFL primetime games, the three Thanksgiving Day games and the entire NFL playoffs.