Düsseldorf The 2021/22 NFL season starts in September. Who are the favorites? When and where does the Super Bowl take place? And where are the games broadcast? We clarify the most important questions.
The National Football League is back to normal for the new season. After the 2020/21 season ran relatively smoothly, but was of course shaped by the corona pandemic, everything should run as usual this time. Means: The stadiums are full again and given a high vaccination rate among players and coaches, Corona should no longer be a major problem. However, there is one fundamental change from the usual: more games. Here you can read what you need to know about the new season.
The NFL starts its 102nd season on the night of September 9-10, 2021 (Thursday to Friday). At 2:20 a.m. German time, the reigning Super Bowl champion, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, welcomes the Dallas Cowboys to the opening game. All other teams join the team on the following Sunday and Monday.
The role of favorites has not changed at all compared to the previous season. If the Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccanneers face each other again at the upcoming Super Bowl, it wouldn’t be a big surprise. Both are still considered to be the best teams in the NFL and their respective conference before the season starts.
Behind them there are several promising teams, but they can definitely compete with them. There are, for example, the Baltimore Ravens, who always delivered last in the regular season, but then weakened in the play-offs. The Buffalo Bills were close to the Super Bowl last year and still have the potential to finally win the first title in their history. At the Green Bay Packers, a lot depends on whether Aaron Rodgers will play there for the coming season. A change or even a strike are on the agenda. If Rodgers, the most valuable player of the past NFL season, is there, the Packers are definitely one of the favorites.
- AFC East: Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, New York Jets
- AFC North: Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers
- AFC South: Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans
- AFC West: Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers, Las Vegas Raiders
- NFC East: Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Football Team
- NFC North: Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings
- NFC South: Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- NFC West: Arizona Cardinals, Los Angeles Rams, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks
Hence the NFL teams got their names.
The National Football League consists of 32 teams. These are divided into two conferences with 16 teams each, the American Football Conference (AFC) and the National Football Conference (NFC). Each conference is divided into four divisions, each with four teams. Starting this season, the regular season consists of 18 game days, with each team having one free game (“Bye week”). So each team has 17 games this season. Both a home and an away game are played against each team in their own division. As part of the annual rotation, there are also four games against the teams in a division from their own conference and four games against the teams in a division from the opposing conference. In addition, there are two games (home and away) against the teams in their own conference that finished in the same place in the table last year (except for the division against which the team is already competing based on the game plan). The 17th game this season is a game against another team from the other conference, which has the same place in the table in its division. The division, which is already being played against, is excluded; the others are also rotated.
The play-offs have consisted of 14 teams since last season. In the AFC and the NFC, seven teams each make it to the play-offs. These are the winners of the individual divisions plus three so-called wild card teams per conference. The wild cards go to the three best teams in a conference that could not win their division. It is theoretically possible that all four teams from a division will reach the play-offs if the third and fourth placed in a division are better than the runner-up in the other three divisions.
The top-seeded AFC and NFC teams each receive a bye, the other six compete against each other in the first play-off round. The second best teams in each conference play against the seventh best team, the third best against the sixth placed and the teams in fourth against the fifth.
Each conference then determines its best team in the play-offs, so that in the end a team from the AFC will play for the Super Bowl with a team from the NFC.
In the regular season, most of the games are played on Sundays (7 p.m., 10:05 p.m. and 10:25 p.m.). In addition, one game will run from Thursday to Friday night (2.20 a.m.), Sunday night to Monday (2.20 a.m.) and one game each Tuesday night (2.15 a.m.).
The Super Bowl LVI takes place on February 13, 2022 in Los Angeles at SoFi Stadium, home of the LA Rams and LA Chargers. There, the best AFC team and the best NFC team face each other and fight for the coveted Vince Lombardi Trophy.
A week earlier, on February 6, 2022, the best players of the season from the AFC duel with the top stars of the NFC at the Pro Bowl in Las Vegas, Nevada at Allegiant Stadium.
- September 9, 2021 – January 9, 2022: Regular Season
- 15./16. January 2022: Wild Card Play-offs
- 22./23. January 2022: Divisional Play-offs
- January 30, 2022: Championship Games
- February 6, 2022: Pro Bowl
- February 13, 2022: Super Bowl
- Super Bowl LV (2021): Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Finalgegner: Kansas City Chiefs)
- Super Bowl LIV (2020): Kansas City Chiefs (Finalgegner: San Francisco 49ers )
- Super Bowl LIII (2019): New England Patriots (Los Angeles Rams)
- Super Bowl LII (2018): Philadelphia Eagles (New England Patriots)
- Super Bowl LI (2017): New England Patriots (Atlanta Falcons)
For several years, regular season games have also been played outside the United States. On October 2, 2005, the Arizona Cardinals and the San Francisco 49ers met for the first time in the Aztec Stadium in Mexico City. Two years later, the first game took place on European soil. Since then there has been the so-called London Games every season, the only exception being 2020; because of the corona pandemic, all games took place in the USA. In 2021, however, the NFL will return to London with two games. Both take place at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium:
- 10. Oktober 2021: New York Jets – Atlanta Falcons
- 17. Oktober 2021: Miami Dolphins – Jacksonville Jaguars
The NFL remains the sporting figurehead of the ProSieben Maxx and ProSieben channels. The television stations broadcast at least two games live on every match day in the regular season, and the traditional home game of the Dallas Cowboys will be broadcast on Thanksgiving Thursday (November 25, 2021). In addition, all play-off games, the Pro Bowl and the Super Bowl are shown. The broadcast begins on Sundays at 6 p.m. with a football magazine. Afterwards, football fans can watch a game in full length from 7 p.m. and from 10:05 p.m. or 10:25 p.m.
Another game will be broadcast exclusively and live on Sunday evening on ran.de. The streaming provider Dazn broadcasts the games during the night from Thursday to Friday, Sunday to Monday and Monday to Tuesday. There are also 18 individual games at the early kick-off time on Sunday, all play-off games and the Super Bowl. The games are also available in re-live. In the regular season, Dazn also shows the NFL RedZone every Sunday evening from 7 p.m. Cost: EUR 14.99 per month or EUR 149.99 per year. Everything can be seen bundled in the NFL Game Pass.
With the NFL Game Pass, football fans can follow every game of all teams live in the current season. For an annual contribution of 167.99 euros, fans can watch all the games with the original American sound, see 40-minute summaries of the games and watch all the games in re-live. There are also many other functions such as the camera perspective that the trainers use for analyzes or some exclusive content.