Breaking Down the NFL Schedule
The NFL football schedule is arguably the best in all of sports. From starting in September, to playing the hardest hitting sport in the rain, sleet and snow, the NFL football schedule is so unpredictable. Maybe that is what makes it so great. Maybe that is the real reason that football is so popular. The football season usually starts in the first and second week of September.
The first game of the football season is played on the first Thursday of September. Usually the team who won the Super Bowl last year, plays on the first game of the football season. This is the only time in the NFL schedule that a game is played on a Thursday until Thanksgiving. This Thursday night game is now played on NBC. Usually it was played on FOX or ESPN. Then the regular games start on the following Sunday. The games start play from 1pm until 8pm. These games are shown on local channels, CBS, FOX and ESPN. The last game of week one is the infamous Monday Night Game. Hank Williams Jr. always starts Monday Night Football with the traditional "Are You Ready For Some Football?!" song, which he changes depending on which teams are playing. That's what you call commitment to your job.
Weeks 2-4 of the football schedule are fairly simple. Games on Sunday afternoon, night and Monday nights. Starting on week 5, that's where is gets a little confusing. In week 5, 4-6 teams have no games. For those teams, these weeks are called bye weeks. They neither win nor lose. This gives these teams a chance to evaluate the first month of their season, and see if they need to make any changes. These bye weeks go on all the way until week 12. By week 13, all the teams have had their own bye week, and they all play regular games. Some play on Saturday afternoon, while others play on Sunday and Monday. During the week of Thanksgiving, 4-6 teams play on Thursday as a tradition. Then the rest of the teams play on Sunday and Monday.
There are 17 weeks in the NFL schedule. Each team plays 16 games, and after those 16 games, the division winner from all 8 of the divisions, and the best 4 best teams in each League, the AFC and NFC, advance to the playoffs. The team with the best record in the AFC and NFC get another bye weeks and automatically advance to the second round of the playoffs. Each team is played in order. The teams that won the division they were in take up the 1-4 spots, the last two teams take up 5 and 6. The teams ranked 3 and 6 play each other and the teams ranked 4 and 5 play each other. This is where the playoff system gets tricky. If the 3rd ranked team beats the 6th ranked team then that team plays the top ranked team in their division. If the 6th ranked team beats the 3rd ranked team, then that team faced the top ranked team.
After all those games are played, the second round of the playoffs are started. The two winners of those games face off in the Divisional championships game. The AFC teams that won their games play each other at the top ranked team's stadium. Same thing with the NFC teams. The teams that win that game advance to the Super Bowl. The location of the Super Bowl is chosen before the football season begins. The Super Bowl is played at the end of January of the first week in February. After the Super Bowl, the best players from the season play in Hawaii for the Pro Bowl.
It may sound confusing at first, but if you watch football for long enough, you will be able to explain to your friends how the NFL football schedule works, and have people understand you completely.