How many games are in the NFL season?

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The NFL is a multi-billion-dollar business. So when it comes to the collective bargaining agreement, it's no surprise to see the league advocates for more games. More games equal more revenue for teams and the league.

The number of games in an NFL season has changed numerous times over the years. The NFL schedule was boosted from 12 games to 14 way back in 1961. From here the league made the jump from 14 to 16 games in 1978, during the thick of the Pittsburgh Steelers Steel Curtain dynasty.

How many games are in the NFL season?

The 16-game season was the magic number for 42 years until the new NFL collective bargaining agreement to add a 17th game to the schedule beginning in 2021. With the added game come several significant changes to the regular season and playoff schedule.

As has been the case, each division will play every other team in their division twice as well as two other divisions each year -- one from the AFC and one from the NFC. Their three additional games will be decided based on records from the previous season.

In the playoffs, things work a bit differently now. There used to be six playoff teams from each conference, and the top two seeds in each conference would earn a bye week during the Wild Card round. Now, with a seventh playoff team added in each conference, only one team from the AFC and one from the NFC earn a first-round bye, while the number 2 seed starts by playing the number 7 seed and so on.

The 17-game NFL schedule certainly makes for some long seasons, but as the salary cap continues to go up, players earn bigger contracts and their game checks in their salaries are reflected with these changes. As a result of adding the 17th game in the regular season, the NFL has agreed to reduce the preseason by one game -- going from 4 contests per summer down to 3. This is a way to appease the players to help with the toll their bodies take during the NFL season.

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It's certainly possible that the NFL could push for an 18th game at some point in the future as each week of the NFL season draws so much revenue. However, that will be something to debate at the next collective bargaining agreement, which is up in 2023. By that time, we may even see some expansion teams in the works.