How many games are in an NFL season? Details of the NFL season explained

How many games are in an NFL season? Details of the NFL season explained

Helix Odhiambo
updated at April 12, 2023 at 8:21 PM

The National Football League (NFL) is one of the most popular and competitive sports leagues in the United States and Canada. Despite its massive presence in North America, many people across the globe still need to learn how many games are in an NFL season, the league's format, the number of teams, and the setup. This article has details of the league.

How many NFL games are in a season?
Andrew Whitworth (77) of the LA Rams holds the Vince Lombardi Trophy after defeating the Cincinnati Bengals 23-20 in the Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium on 13 February 2022. Photo: Gregory Shamus
Source: Getty Images

Since its inception, the NFL has hosted many great sides, including the Pittsburgh Steelers, the New England Patriots, and the San Francisco 49ers. Currently, the league hosts 32 teams. Some of the top global icons to have played in the NFL are Tom Brady, Jerry Rice, and Lawrence Taylor.

History of the NFL

The NFL was formed in 1920 as the American Professional Football Association with ten teams before rebranding to the National Football League in 1922. However, in 1959, a rival league was formed, the American Football League (AFL). The two competitions later merged in 1970 to form one league that has existed to date.

The current format consists of 32 sides split into two conferences, the American Football Conference (AFC) and the National Football Conference (NFC). Each conference has 16 teams divided into four divisions of four teams each. So, scroll down to discover how many regular season games are in the NFL.

How many NFL games are in a season?

How many games are in the NFL season in 2023
Baltimore Ravens players stand for the National Anthem before the game against the Tennessee Titans at M&T Bank Stadium on 11 August 2022 in Baltimore, Maryland. Photo: Scott Taetsch
Source: Getty Images

The league has 272 regular season matches. A typical NFL season runs from September to early January, the preseason is often in August, and the playoffs usually occur in January and February.

How many games are in an NFL season per team?

Every team play 17 NFL regular season games with one bye week (one week off) during an 18-week season. The teams could either host nine regular-season games and one preseason game or eight regular-season games and two preseason games.

Previously, teams played 16 games, a format that lasted for 43 years from 1978 to 2021. The matches were then increased to 17 per team. The NFL also expanded from a 14-game schedule to 16 in 1978.

Breakdown of the 17 games

Here is how teams play during an NFL season.

  • Playing three division rivals home and away - 6 matches
  • Facing four teams from a division within their conference once - 4 matches
  • Teams also play the two other sides within their conference, which finished in the same place in their division - 2 matches
  • Facing all four teams from a division in the other conference - 4 matches
  • A game against a team in the other conference that finished in the same place in their division - 1 match

How many games are in an NFL season including playoffs?

How many games in an NFL season including playoffs?
Cincinnati Bengals' offensive line lines up against Kansas City Chiefs players during the AFC Championship Game at Arrowhead Stadium on 30 January 2022 in Kansas City, Missouri. Photo: Kevin Sabitus
Source: Getty Images

NFL playoffs are knockout stages held after the regular season to determine the NFL champion in the Super Bowl final. A total of 14 teams qualify for the playoffs, and they are the eight division winners and six wild card teams (three from each conference).

The playoffs are divided into four rounds; the Wild Card, the Divisional Round, the Championship, and the Super Bowl. So, how many games are in the NFL playoffs? 13 matches are played before the winner is determined in the final.

Playoff rounds

Seven teams from each conference, alongside three wild-card teams from each conference, will battle it out in mouthwatering knockout rounds.

The Wild Card round

The round consists of three world card teams (seeded five to seven) playing against three division champions (seeded two to four) from respective conferences. Therefore, the no. 2 seed faces the no. 7 seed, and the no. 3 seed faces the no. 6 seed. The no. 4 seed faces the no. 5 seed in another encounter. The first-seeded division champion gets a week off and will play in the next round.

The Divisional round

How many games are in the NFL season this year?
Kansas City Chiefs Travis Kelce (with the ball) is tackled during the NFL AFC divisional playoff game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on 15 January 2017 at Arrowhead Stadium. Photo: William Purnell
Source: Getty Images

Winners of the previous round advance to the Division playoffs, where the lowest remaining seeded side plays the first-seeded division champion, who had a week off. The other two teams face off against each other for a place in the next stage.

Conference Championship

The two semi-finals feature teams within the same conference playing to book a spot in the final, also known as the Super Bowl.

The Super Bowl

In this final stage, the two conference champions face off to determine the league champion. The winning team gets to lift the Vince Lombardi Trophy, one of the most prestigious trophies globally.

How many games are in the NFL season in 2023

You may wonder how many games are in the NFL season this year. Well, the 2022-2023 NFL season consists of 272 games, with every 32 teams playing 17 matches in 18 weeks. It is also the 103rd edition of the National Football League and began on 8 September 2022.

The playoffs kick off on 14 January 2023 and will end with the Super Bowl on 12 February 2023 at State Farm Stadium in Glendale.

The 2022 NFL Playoff schedule

NFL regular season games
San Francisco 49ers fans arrive before their NFL game against the Los Angeles Rams at Levis Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., on 3 October 2022. Photo: Jane Tyska
Source: Getty Images

Below are the 2023 dates of the playoff matches to help you plan to watch the entertaining thrillers as the season nears its end.

Wild Card Weekend Schedule

  • 14 January 2023 (Saturday)
  • 15 January 2023 (Sunday)
  • 16 January 2023 (Monday)

Divisional Weekend

  • 21 January 2023 (Saturday)
  • 22 January 2023 (Sunday)

Conference Championships

  • 29 January 2023 (Sunday)

Super Bowl

  • 12 February 2023 (Sunday)

Who are the current champions?

How many games are in an NFL season per team?
Stan Kroenke, the owner of the LA Rames, holds the V. Lombardi Trophy after their Super Bowl victory over the C. Bengals at SoFi Stadium on 13 February 2022 in Inglewood, California. Photo: Rob Carr
Source: Getty Images

The Los Angeles Rams are the latest franchise to win the Super Bowl after beating the Cinderella Cincinnati Bengals 23-20 in the final on 13 February 2022 at SoFi Stadium. It was the second Super Bowl title in their history. However, the team has had poor form this season and is likely to defend the title.

Knowing how many games are in an NFL season is one way of understanding the American football league. The competition's rich history has attracted billions of viewers globally, with the majority coming from North America. However, it is a sport that has yet to develop in most parts of the world.

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Helix Odhiambo photo
Helix Odhiambo
Helix Odhiambo is an award-winning Kenyan journalist and content creator with over 6 years of experience. In 2016, he won the Goal Blaze Correspondent Award for young writers.