National Football League
The National Football League (NFL) represents the top level of professional football in the United States. Football fans enjoy high-scoring offenses, hard-hitting defenses, and thrilling games throughout the season. The league’s 32 teams are split into four divisions each in the National Football Conference (NFC) and American Football Conference (AFC).
The NFL dates back to 1920 when professional football was overseen by the 22-team American Professional Football Association (APFA). The APFA changed to the NFL in 1922 in an effort to further professionalize the sport. In 1970, the NFL absorbed 10 teams from the competing American Football League to change the professional football landscape.
Since the NFL’s founding, the league has steadily moved from a grinding defensive league to a showcase for offensive prowess. Rule changes like narrowing the hash marks in 1972 and moving the goalposts from the goal line to the back of the end zone in 1974 opened the field for the offense. In the 21st century, tightened rules surrounding roughing the passer and defensive pass interference gave advantages to offensive-minded teams.
The NFL has also sought to ensure fairness by using instant replay on several occasions. The league tested instant replay during the 1978 preseason and implemented the system from 1985 to 1992. NFL owners approved a return to instant replay in 1999 with tweaks to the system in following seasons.
The NFL’s history is filled with game-changing players on both sides of the ball. Washington quarterback Sammy Baugh paved the way for pass-heavy offenses and acted as his team’s punter from the 1930s to the 1950s. Chicago Bears linebacker Dick Butkus and Browns running back Jim Brown provided intimidating faces for the league as games became TV fixtures. Stars like 49ers quarterback Joe Montana and Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor upped the entertainment value during the 1980s.
The Live NFL Experience
The typical NFL game takes just over three hours to complete from kickoff to final whistle. Tailgate parties are traditional pre-game events at various NFL stadiums including Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo and Green Bay’s Lambeau Field. The in-stadium experience includes fans doing the wave, making noise when the opposing team is on the field, and singing along to music over the PA system.
Noteworthy NFL Events
The NFL preseason kicks off with the Hall of Fame Game, which coincides with inductions into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The regular-season schedule starts with a Thursday night game featuring the previous season’s champion. London hosts at least one NFL game each season as part of the NFL’s efforts to expand its global reach. The Detroit Lions and the Dallas Cowboys host annual Thanksgiving games. On the last day of the regular season, every game is a divisional game to stoke rivalries at the season’s climax. The league’s Pro Bowl draws the best players in the league to a neutral site in the week prior to the Super Bowl.
NFL Schedule Information
Each NFL team plays a four-game preseason schedule along with a 16-game regular season. NFL teams play home-and-away games against each of their division rivals. The schedule is filled out by eight games divided among conference rivals and teams from the opposite conference. The NFL schedules a bye week for each team to provide rest during the grind of the regular season.
NFL Postseason Information
The NFL postseason begins in early January with wild-card rounds in each conference. In the NFC and AFC wild-card rounds, two wild-card teams face off against the two division winners with the worst records. The winners of the wild-card rounds face the two best division winners in their conferences. This divisional playoff round is followed by the conference championship round to determine who represents the AFC and NFC in the Super Bowl. The Super Bowl is held the first Sunday in February and decides the NFL championship.
How to Buy NFL Tickets
The NFL schedule release each spring is followed by season ticket and individual ticket sales for each home game. Football lovers who want to plan ahead can search SeatGeek for NFL tickets within their budgets.
NFL Ticket Prices
The average ticket price for an NFL game is $151, according to SeatGeek data. The price point for individual tickets may vary depending on the seating section, opponent, day of week, and more.