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Why are NFL Games Played on 3 Specific Days
and not the Whole Week?


Football is one of the most physically exhausting sports, and it wouldn’t be reasonable to expect NFL teams to play every day. They would need to create a fair schedule if they played all week, at the very least.

Let’s say a team played on Wednesday last week. They are playing on Monday this week against a team that played on Sunday last week i.e., on the previous day. That’s hardly fair. The first team would have a serious competitive advantage.

At the moment, NFL teams that play on Thursday must follow strict scheduling rules. They aren’t allowed to have played on Sunday or Monday the past week. A team that missed last week can’t play one that played the previous Sunday, and more.

Why Were Sunday, Monday, and Thursday Chosen?

NFL games have traditionally been played on Sundays. Movies like Any Given Sunday have made it clear. You just know it’s about the NFL by the title without having anything else to go on. The biggest games are on Sundays, but this is balanced considering saturation and player safety.

Saturday and Friday are eliminated for most of the season because 1961’s Sports Broadcasting Act bans NFL teams from competing with college and high school football. However, they do play some Saturday games after college football ends, late in the season.

Tuesday and Wednesday games provoke little interest. This leaves Monday and Thursday. The NFL was correct to assume an “end of the week match” would mean big bucks and equally big ratings. You can now check out the Monday night football odds.

But why Thursday? Both TV and the NFL knew people would be home with family around Thanksgiving, doing nothing much. At first, they practically had to beg teams to play on Thursdays. Some time ago, the NFL came up with another way to make even more money – holding Thursday night games from the first through to the sixteenth week. Players don’t like these games, though. They only get to rest from Sunday to Thursday, four days instead of seven.

About Flexible Scheduling

Flexible scheduling was implemented for Sunday night football in 2006. This guaranteed quality matchups on that night, giving surprise teams the opportunity to get in primetime. Teams can use flexible scheduling once between the fifth and tenth week and once between the eleventh and seventeenth.

Sunday night games are scheduled provisionally and subject to change in those time intervals. You can only move Sunday afternoon games to Sunday night. If this happens, the provisionally scheduled Sunday night game would be moved to the afternoon.

It’s possible to move Sunday afternoon games between 13:00 and 16:05 or 16:25. Flexible scheduling doesn’t apply to games on Monday, Thursday, or Saturday night. The NFL can move game starting times on Sundays with 12 days’ notice.

In the seventeenth week, the NFL can decide to move the starting time with six days’ notice to guarantee a Sunday night game.

The NFL uses a flexible schedule in weeks 11-18. They can use this option for a maximum of two weeks in weeks 5-10. They announce the Sunday night game and two Saturday games by January 3 for week 18.