The NFL season is divided into three parts: a preseason, a regular season, a 14-team single-elimination playoff and a championship game (the Super Bowl)
NFL Preseason – The NFL season traditionally begins with a three-week preseason in which each team is required to play at least three games against regional rivals. Because these pre-season games are not on the team’s official record, teams do not intend to win the game, but take advantage of the opportunity to evaluate their potential. Preseason games also allow team officials and players to play against true league rivals. Team officials also give chances to young players in preseason games to evaluate their performance in an official NFL match. Despite the fact that the preseason games do not count in the official record of the team, fans still buy tickets and participate in these games with all the excitement of a regular season game.
Regular Season – The NFL regular season begins after the preseason and lasts for 18 weeks. Each team must play 17 pre-scheduled games against other opponent teams during the regular season. During a typical season, a total of 272 games are played, with over 1700 professional football players taking part. Each team plays home and away games against the other three teams in its division, as well as 11 games against teams from other divisions. A predetermined formula is used to determine these matches. After the regular season, the team’s standings are decided on the basis of their winning percentage. The top seven teams from each conference with the highest winning percentage advance to the next round.
Postseason – The NFL playoffs take place after the regular season has ended. It’s a 14-team knockout competition. The NFL postseason is divided into several rounds. The team from each conference with the highest winning percentage qualifies for the Divisional playoffs, while the remaining six teams from each conference must compete in wildcard playoffs to advance to the Divisional playoffs. Normally the postseason can be divided into four knockout rounds.
Wild Card Playoffs – Six teams from each conference have to play and win Wild Card playoffs to qualify for the Divisional playoffs. Wild card playoffs are decided on the basis of the team standings in their respective conference. Six games are contested in the Wild Card round, three between NFC teams and the other three between AFC teams. The 2-seed club in the NFC plays the 7-seed wildcard team in the first game, the 3-seed plays the 6-seed wildcard team in the second game, and the 4-seed plays the 5-seed wildcard team in the third game. Similarly, AFC teams also play in the same pattern. Learn more about NFL Player positions with our novice guide.
Divisional Playoffs –The two division winners with the highest winning percentages go to the Divisional playoffs without having to play in the wildcard round, and the winners of three wildcard games also qualify for the divisional round. There are two elimination games for each conference in the divisional round. The division winners with the highest winning percentage in the respective conference face the lowest-rated wildcard winner, and the remaining two wildcard winners play against each other.
NFC/AFC Championship games –Two winning teams of Divisional playoffs from each conference compete against each other in the next round called Conference Championship. The Conference Championship game determines the champion of each of the two conferences. Two winners from the National Football Conference (NFC) play against each other, and two winners from American Football Conference (AFC) play against each other. The winners of both conference championships qualify for the Super Bowl game, where they get a chance to become the champion of the National Football League.
Super Bowl – The winners of both conference championships become contenders for the National Football League (NFL). The NFC Champion and the AFC Champion compete against each other in the final game of the Super Bowl League, and the winner of the Super Bowl becomes the NFL Champion. The Super Bowl is a huge television and spectator attraction, with 80,000 football fans from around the world attending the event. The NFL also holds a bidding process to determine which city will host the next Super Bowl.