When Did The NFL Go To 18 Weeks?

It’s a question that has been asked for years, and we still don’t have a concrete answer. Join us as we explore the history of the NFL and try to figure out when the league switched to 18 weeks.


The National Football League (NFL) regular season is the period during which professional American football teams play their sport. This consists of 256 games, where each team (32 total) plays 16 games apiece. These games are played over a 17-week schedule that runs from the week after Labor Day to the week after Christmas, with each team playing one bye week during the season.

History of the NFL

The National Football League (NFL) is a professional American football league. The NFL was founded in 1920 as the American Professional Football Association (APFA) before renaming itself the National Football League for the 1922 season.


The NFL regular season used to be only 12 games long. It wasn’t until the 1960s that the league lengthened its schedule to the current 16 games. But why did they make this change?

There are a few reasons cited for the switch. The most common one is that, as professional football became more popular in the 1950s and ‘60s, NFL owners saw an opportunity to make more money by lengthening the season and adding more games. This would also help them compete with baseball, which was still America’s favorite sport at the time.

Another reason given is that, with more teams in the league (it had grown from 12 to 20 teams by 1966), owners wanted to increase revenue by playing more games and showing their product to a larger number of fans.

Whatever the reasons behind it, the change paid off for the NFL. In 1967, the league’s first year with a 16-game schedule, its TV ratings increased by 25%. And today, pro football is one of America’s most popular sports, easily eclipsing baseball in terms of both popularity and revenue.


In the 1960s, the NFL began to experiment with time. It doubled its regular season to 14 games in 1961 and then to 16 in 1962. The league also established its first broadcast contracts, which helped increase interest in the sport. In 1967, the NFL introduced a playoff system that consisted of two divisional winners meeting in a championship game. This system proved so popular that it remains in place today.

In 1978, the league expanded again, this time to include a second wild card team in each conference. This increased the number of teams in the playoffs to 10. In 1990, the league expanded for a third time, adding two more teams and increasing the number of playoff teams to 12. Finally, in 2002, the NFL added a seventh game to each conference’s playoff schedule and instituted a new overtime system designed to reduce the number of tied games.

The most recent change to the NFL’s postseason came in 2017, when the league expanded from 12 to 14 teams by adding an additional wild card game in each conference. With this change, there are now four divisional winners and six wild card qualifiers in each conference vying for a spot in the Super Bowl.

The Change to 18 Weeks

Before the 1978 season, the NFL schedule had teams playing fourteen regular season games. However, the league shifted to a sixteen-game schedule in 1978. Finally, in 2002, the NFL increased the regular season to its current length of eighteen games. Why did the NFL make these changes?

Why the change?

The National Football League went from a 16-game regular season to an 18-game regular season in 2021. The last time the NFL increased the number of regular-season games was in 1978, when it went from 14 games to 16.

There are several reasons why the NFL decided to increase the number of regular-season games. First, it wanted to generate more revenue. Second, it wanted to reduce the number of preseason games, which are considered less important than regular-season games. Third, it wanted to create more bye weeks for players, so they would have more time to rest and recover from injuries.

The NFL also changed its playoff format in 2021. It expanded the playoffs from 12 teams to 14 teams. The two additional teams will be wild-card teams that will be seeded 7 and 8. In previous years, only the division winners and two wild-card teams made the playoffs.

How has it affected the NFL?

The regular season used to be 16 games long, but it was increased to 18 games in 2011. The change was made in order to generate more revenue for the league. Some fans and players were opposed to the change, because it would mean that players would be exposed to more risk of injury.

The extra two games also meant that each team would have one bye week during the season, instead of two. This made the schedule more balanced and fairer for all teams. Overall, the change has been positive for the league, and has helped to increase interest and viewership.


In conclusion, the NFL went to 18 weeks in order to have more competitive games and generate more revenue. The length of the season was a major factor in the decision, as was the fact that the league wanted to showcase its product on a national stage. The NFL has been successful in both of these respects, and it is unlikely that the league will shorten the season anytime soon. Thanks for reading!

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