How many games are in an NFL season? Here’s a look at the regular season schedule and how many games each team plays.
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 North American professional sports leagues, 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 February. This is an average of 256 games per season.
The NFL Season
The NFL season consists of 16 regular season games for each team, plus any preseason and postseason games.
The National Football League preseason is the period each year during which NFL teams play several not-for-the-record exhibition games before the regular season. Beginning with the featured Pro Football Hall of Fame game in early August, five weekends of preseason games are currently played in the NFL. Exact dates and number of games depends on the alignment of the particular week’s regular season schedule. Preseason games are typically played against opponents within their conference and/or division, meaning most games do not carry significant inter-conference implications (unlike, for example, many college football preseason games).
The NFL preseason generally opens with most teams playing four exhibition games, with some teams playing three and two. The two additional games are typically played by teams that advanced to their conference’s championship game the previous season (a “Super Bowl team”), as well as one additional game for each team that finished in second place in its division. The preseason culminates with a full slate of 16 NFC vs AFC matchups, arranged regionally.
The National Football League regular season is the portion of the NFL season that generally runs from the last week of September to the first week of January, although some years it may start as late as the second week in September and end as early as the first week in February.
During the regular season, each team plays 16 games over a 17-week period. Most of these games are against teams within their own conference; each team accumulates a record against opponents in its own conference and a record against opponents in other conferences.
In addition, each team plays one game against a team from another conference, called a “cross-over opponent.” The specific cross-over opponents are determined by final standings from the previous season (with one exception in which two teams face each other twice because they both finished in first place in their respective conferences).
The NFL playoffs follow the regular season and typically involve 12 teams competing in single-elimination contests to determine which team will represent their conference in the Super Bowl.
The National Football League (NFL) regular season typically runs from the last Thursday in August to the first Sunday in January, though sometimes it starts the week after Labor Day and ends the week after Christmas.
The NFL post-season, or playoffs, is a single-elimination tournament held after the end of the regular season to determine the champion of the NFL. There are four rounds of playoffs: Wild Card weekend, Divisional Playoffs, Conference Championships, and Super Bowl.
Wild Card weekend is when any team not division winner can compete for a spot in the Divisional Playoffs. The four teams with the best record in each conference compete in this round. This round consists of two games on Saturday and two games on Sunday.
The Divisional Playoffs are when each conference’s top two seeds compete against each other. The winners of these advance to their conference’s championship game.
The Conference Championships determine which team will represent each conference in the Super Bowl. The American Football Conference (AFC) champion plays the National Football Conference (NFC) champion.
The Super Bowl is when the AFC and NFC champions compete against each other to decide who is crowned NFL champion for that year.
In conclusion, there are 16 games in an NFL season. 8 of those games are divisional games, and the other 8 are inter-conference games.