How many games are played in an NFL season, including the playoffs?
- There are 272 regular season games in the NFL.
- There are 13 playoff games played, including the Wild Card Round, Divisional Round, Conference Championships, and Super Bowl.
Below we look more into the structure of the NFL season, explore the number of games played, and provide valuable insights into the league’s playoff system.
The Regular Season
The NFL regular season is the primary phase of the league, where teams compete against each other to secure a spot in the playoffs.
It is during this period that teams battle it out on the field, striving to accumulate enough wins to advance to the postseason.
Number of Teams
Currently, the NFL consists of 32 teams, divided into two conferences: the National Football Conference (NFC) and the American Football Conference (AFC).
Each conference is further divided into four divisions, with four teams in each division.
Length of the Regular Season
The NFL regular season typically spans 18 weeks, with each team playing a total of 17 games.
The league follows a fixed schedule formula, ensuring that teams face a mix of opponents from their own division, other divisions within their conference, and teams from the opposing conference.
Within their division, teams play a total of six games.
They face each divisional opponent twice, once at home and once on the road.
These divisional matchups are crucial as they directly impact a team’s chances of winning their division and securing a playoff berth.
In addition to the divisional games, teams play four games against opponents from another division within their conference.
These matchups rotate each year, ensuring that teams face different conference opponents regularly.
For example, if a team is in the AFC East division, they will play all the teams from another AFC division, such as the AFC North, AFC South, or AFC West.
To promote parity and provide fans with exciting matchups, each team also plays four games against teams from the opposing conference.
These interconference matchups rotate on a regular basis, allowing teams to face different opponents from the other conference each season.
For instance, an NFC team may play against four AFC teams in a given year.
During the regular season, each team is assigned one bye week.
A bye week is a week in which a team does not have a game scheduled.
This break allows players to rest and recover from injuries, while coaches can strategize and prepare for upcoming games.
Total Number of Regular Season Games
Considering the 32 teams and 17 games per team, the NFL regular season consists of a total of 272 games.
These games are spread across the 18-week period, providing fans with an action-packed football experience throughout the season.
The Playoffs: The Quest for the Super Bowl
Once the regular season concludes, the top teams from each conference advance to the playoffs.
The playoffs are a knockout tournament where teams compete for the ultimate prize – a chance to play in the Super Bowl.
Number of Playoff Teams
A total of 14 teams qualify for the NFL playoffs.
This includes seven teams from each conference, with the top seed in each conference receiving a bye week, meaning they automatically advance to the Divisional Round without playing a game in the Wild Card Round.
Wild Card Round
The Wild Card Round is the first round of the playoffs and features the three divisional champions from each conference, along with the three wild card teams with the best regular season records.
In this round, the two wild card teams with the lowest records face the divisional champions with the lowest records, while the top seed in each conference awaits their opponent in the Divisional Round.
Following the Wild Card Round, the Divisional Round takes place.
The top seed in each conference, who received a bye week, now enters the playoffs and faces the lowest remaining seed from the Wild Card Round.
The other two divisional champions face off against each other.
The winners of these games advance to the Conference Championship.
The Conference Championship is the penultimate round of the playoffs. It features the winners from the Divisional Round in each conference.
The two conference champions battle it out for the AFC and NFC titles, earning a spot in the Super Bowl.
The Super Bowl is the pinnacle of the NFL season, where the AFC and NFC champions face off to determine the league’s champion.
This highly anticipated game attracts millions of viewers worldwide and is often accompanied by extravagant halftime shows and memorable commercials.
Total Number of Playoff Games
When considering all rounds of the playoffs, a total of 13 games are played.
This includes six games in the Wild Card Round, four games in the Divisional Round, two games in the Conference Championship, and the final game – the Super Bowl.
Q&A – How Many Games in an NFL Season? (Including Playoffs)
1. How many games are played in an NFL regular season?
The NFL regular season consists of 17 games per team, resulting in a total of 272 games.
2. How many teams make it to the NFL playoffs?
A total of 14 teams qualify for the NFL playoffs, with seven teams from each conference.
3. How many games are played in the NFL playoffs?
There are a total of 13 games played in the NFL playoffs, including the Super Bowl.
4. How many teams receive a bye week in the playoffs?
The top seed in each conference receives a bye week, meaning they automatically advance to the Divisional Round without playing a game in the Wild Card Round.
5. How many games does a team need to win to reach the Super Bowl?
A team needs to win three playoff games to reach the Super Bowl – one in the Wild Card Round, one in the Divisional Round, and one in the Conference Championship.
6. How many weeks does the NFL regular season span?
The NFL regular season spans 18 weeks, providing fans with several months of football action.
7. How many teams are in each conference?
There are 16 teams in each conference – the National Football Conference (NFC) and the American Football Conference (AFC).
8. How are playoff matchups determined?
Playoff matchups are determined based on a team’s seeding.
The highest-seeded team faces the lowest-seeded team in each round.
9. How many teams from each division make the playoffs?
At least one team from each division has the opportunity to make the playoffs.
However, the number of teams can vary depending on the overall performance of the division.
10. How many teams have won the most Super Bowls?
The Pittsburgh Steelers and the New England Patriots hold the record for the most Super Bowl wins, with six championships each.
11. How many games are played in the preseason?
The NFL preseason consists of four games per team, providing an opportunity for players to showcase their skills and for coaches to evaluate their rosters.
12. How many teams have gone undefeated in a regular season?
Only one team in NFL history has achieved a perfect undefeated regular season – the 1972 Miami Dolphins.
13. How many games are played on Thanksgiving Day?
On Thanksgiving Day, three games are traditionally played – one hosted by the Detroit Lions, one by the Dallas Cowboys, and a third game featuring different teams each year.
14. How many games are played in London each season?
Since 2007, the NFL has hosted regular-season games in London.
Typically, four games are played in London each season, providing international fans with the opportunity to experience live NFL action.
The NFL season is a thrilling journey that captivates fans across the globe.
With 32 teams competing in an 18-week regular season, followed by a knockout playoff tournament, the NFL offers a plethora of games for football enthusiasts to enjoy.
Understanding the structure of the NFL season, including the number of games played in both the regular season and playoffs, allows fans to fully immerse themselves in the excitement and drama that unfolds on the field.