How many games are in a typical NFL season?

New Orleans Saints v San Francisco 49ers
New Orleans Saints v San Francisco 49ers / Ezra Shaw/GettyImages

The NFL has steadily increased the number of regular-season games over the decades to where it is now.

For the die-hard know-it-all San Francisco 49ers fan out there, you can disregard this notice.

For the rest of you, especially the casual fan who's looking to become a die-hard, read on.

If you've stumbled upon this page, you're probably curious about how many regular-season games are on a usual NFL schedule. In fact, it's a number that has changed over the years. Prior to the modern era of football and before the Super Bowl, there were between 10 and 14 regular-season games on the docket.

During the first few years of the Super Bowl era, the norm was to have 14 regular-season games.

That's fine, of course. But what about now? How many games will teams play in 2023 and for the foreseeable future?

There are 17 regular-season games on an NFL schedule

As of the 2021 season, the NFL features 17 regular-season games. This was up one game from the previous number of 16, which was the norm in non-strike seasons from 1978 through 2020.

To help make up for the extra regular-season tilt, the league and players union agreed to scrap one of the previous four preseason games, leaving only three from 2021 onward.

Read More: The 49ers' 2023 schedule is out, and we predict every game

Previously, teams would have eight home games and eight away games. With the odd number of games now scheduled, teams will alternate that 17th game being either at a home venue or on the road.

How many playoff games are there on an NFL schedule?

Another part of the schedule changes that took place not long ago (2020), only the top seed in each conference (the NFC and the AFC) will get a bye (a break while automatically advancing) during the Wild Card round of the playoffs. Previously, it had been the top two seeds getting bye weeks but only six teams made the playoffs instead of seven.

In total, there are four rounds of playoff football:

  • Wild Card round
  • Divisional round
  • Conference Championship round
  • Super Bowl

The top seven teams from each conference make the playoffs, and the No. 2 seed hosts the No. 7 seed in the Wild Card round, while seed No. 3 hosts No. 6 and the fourth and fifth seeds play each other.

Then, in the divisional round, the highest seeds host the lowest seeds for the right to advance to the conference championship.

The winners of those games go to the Super Bowl.

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