2018 NFL season
The 2018 NFL season is the 99th season of the National Football League (NFL). The season began on September 6, 2018, with the NFL Kickoff Game with the defending Super Bowl LII champion Philadelphia Eagles defeating the Atlanta Falcons 18–12. The season will conclude with Super Bowl LIII, the league's championship game, on February 3, 2019, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia.
|Duration||September 6, 2018– December 30, 2018|
|Start date||January 5, 2019|
|Super Bowl LIII|
|Date||February 3, 2019|
|Site||Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, Georgia|
|Date||January 27, 2019|
|Site||Camping World Stadium, Orlando, Florida|
The 2018 NFL League year and trading period began on March 14. On March 9, clubs were allowed to exercise options for 2018 on players who have option clauses in their contracts, submit qualifying offers to their pending restricted free agents and submit a Minimum Salary Tender to retain exclusive negotiating rights to their players with expiring 2017 contracts and who have fewer than three accrued seasons of free agent credit. Teams were required to be under the salary cap using the "Top-51" definition (in which the 51 highest paid-players on the team's payroll must have a combined salary cap hit below the actual cap). On March 12, clubs were allowed to contact and enter into contract negotiations with the agents of players who were set to become unrestricted free agents.
Over 550 players were eligible for some form of free agency during the free agency period. Notable players to change teams include:
- Quarterbacks Sam Bradford (Minnesota to Arizona), Kirk Cousins (Washington to Minnesota), Case Keenum (Minnesota to Denver), and AJ McCarron (Cincinnati to Buffalo).
- Running backs Isaiah Crowell (Cleveland to New York Jets), Carlos Hyde (San Francisco to Cleveland), Frank Gore (Indianapolis to Miami), Dion Lewis (New England to Tennessee), Jerick McKinnon (Minnesota to San Francisco), and Adrian Peterson (Arizona to Washington)
- Wide receivers Danny Amendola (New England to Miami), Allen Hurns (Jacksonville to Dallas), Jordy Nelson (Green Bay to Oakland), Allen Robinson (Jacksonville to Chicago), and Sammy Watkins (Los Angeles Rams to Kansas City)
- Tight ends Jimmy Graham (Seattle to Green Bay), Austin Seferian-Jenkins (New York Jets to Jacksonville), and Marcedes Lewis (Jacksonville to Green Bay)
- Offensive linemen Cameron Fleming (New England to Dallas), Andrew Norwell (Carolina to Jacksonville), Mike Pouncey (Miami to Los Angeles Chargers), Justin Pugh (New York Giants to Arizona), Weston Richburg (New York Giants to San Francisco), Nate Solder (New England to New York Giants), Josh Sitton (Chicago to Miami), and Travis Swanson (Detroit to New York Jets)
- Defensive linemen Adrian Clayborn (Atlanta to New England), Vinny Curry (Philadelphia to Tampa Bay), Sheldon Richardson (Seattle to Minnesota), Ndamukong Suh (Miami to Los Angeles Rams), Star Lotulelei (Carolina to Buffalo), and Muhammad Wilkerson (New York Jets to Green Bay)
- Linebackers Demario Davis (New York Jets to New Orleans), Trent Murphy (Washington to Buffalo), Tahir Whitehead (Detroit to Oakland), and Avery Williamson (Tennessee to New York Jets)
- Defensive backs Malcolm Butler (New England to Tennessee), Morgan Burnett (Green Bay to Pittsburgh), T. J. Carrie (Oakland to Cleveland), Ross Cockrell (New York Giants to Carolina), E. J. Gaines (Buffalo to Cleveland), Marcus Gilchrist (Houston to Oakland), Trumaine Johnson (Los Angeles Rams to New York Jets), Tyrann Mathieu (Arizona to Houston), Rashaan Melvin (Indianapolis to Oakland), Eric Reid (San Francisco To Carolina), Patrick Robinson (Philadelphia to New Orleans), and Richard Sherman (Seattle to San Francisco)
- Kicker Sebastian Janikowski (Oakland to Seattle)
- Punter Marquette King (Oakland to Denver)
- March 14: Miami traded WR Jarvis Landry to Cleveland for a 2018 fourth round selection (123rd overall) and a 2019 seventh round selection.
- March 14: Buffalo traded QB Tyrod Taylor to Cleveland for a 2018 third round selection (65th overall).
- March 14: Buffalo traded T Cordy Glenn, a 2018 first round selection (21st overall), and a 2018 fifth round selection (158th overall) to Cincinnati for a 2018 first round selection (12th overall) and a 2018 sixth round selection (187th overall).
- March 14: Green Bay traded CB Damarious Randall, a 2018 fourth round selection (114th overall), and a 2018 fifth round selection (150th overall) to Cleveland for QB DeShone Kizer, a 2018 fourth round selection (101st overall), and a 2018 fifth round selection (138th overall)
- March 14: Cleveland traded DT Danny Shelton and a 2018 fifth round selection (159th overall) to New England for a 2019 third round selection.
- March 14: Kansas City traded QB Alex Smith to Washington in exchange for CB Kendall Fuller and a 2018 third round selection (78th overall).
- March 14: Kansas City traded CB Marcus Peters and a 2018 sixth round draft selection (196th overall) to the Los Angeles Rams in exchange for a 2018 fourth round selection (124th overall) and a 2019 second round selection.
- March 14: Denver traded CB Aqib Talib to the Los Angeles Rams in exchange for a 2018 fifth round selection (160th overall).
- March 14: Denver traded QB Trevor Siemian and a 2018 seventh round selection (225th overall) to Minnesota for a 2019 fifth round selection.
- March 14: The Los Angeles Rams traded LB Alec Ogletree and a 2019 seventh round draft selection to the New York Giants in exchange for a 2018 fourth round selection (135th overall) and a 2018 sixth round selection (176th overall).
- March 14: The Los Angeles Rams traded DE Robert Quinn and a 2018 sixth round selection to Miami in exchange for a 2018 fourth round selection and a 2018 sixth round selection.
- March 14: Seattle traded DE Michael Bennett and a 2018 seventh round selection to Philadelphia for WR Marcus Johnson and a 2018 fifth round selection.
- March 14: Philadelphia traded WR Torrey Smith to Carolina for CB Daryl Worley.
- March 15: San Francisco traded C Daniel Kilgore and a 2018 seventh round selection (227th overall) to Miami in exchange for a 2018 seventh round selection (223rd overall).
- March 15: Cleveland traded CB Jason McCourty and a 2018 seventh round selection (219th overall) to New England for a 2018 sixth round selection (205th overall).
- March 18: Oakland traded WR Cordarrelle Patterson and a 2018 sixth round selection (210th overall) to New England for a 2018 fifth round selection (159th overall) .
- March 20: Oakland traded FB Jamize Olawale and a 2018 sixth round selection (192nd overall) to Dallas for a 2018 fifth round selection (173rd overall).
- March 22: The New York Giants traded DE Jason Pierre-Paul and their 2018 fourth round selection (102nd overall) to Tampa Bay in exchange for a 2018 third round selection (69th overall) and a 2018 fourth round selection (108th overall).
- March 23: Arizona traded T Jared Veldheer to Denver for a 2018 sixth round selection (182nd overall).
- March 28: Cleveland traded QB Cody Kessler to Jacksonville for a conditional 2019 seventh round selection.
- March 29: Washington traded S Su'a Cravens, a 2018 fourth round selection (113th overall), and a 2018 fifth round selection (149th overall) to Denver in exchange for a 2018 fourth round selection (109th overall), two 2018 fifth round selections (142nd and 163rd overall), and a conditional 2020 selection.
- April 3: New England traded WR Brandin Cooks and a 2018 fourth round selection (136th overall) to the Los Angeles Rams for a 2018 first round selection (23rd overall) and a 2018 sixth round selection (198th overall).
- April 6: Cleveland traded QB Kevin Hogan and a 2018 sixth round selection (205th overall) to Washington in exchange for a 2018 sixth round selection (188th overall).
- April 26: Pittsburgh traded WR Martavis Bryant to Oakland for a 2018 third round selection (79th overall).
- August 5: Cleveland traded WR Corey Coleman to Buffalo for a 2020 seventh round selection.
- August 29: The New York Jets traded QB Teddy Bridgewater and a 2019 sixth-round selection to New Orleans for a 2019 Third round selection.
- September 1: Oakland traded DE/OLB Khalil Mack, a 2020 second round selection, and a conditional 2020 fifth round selection to Chicago in exchange for a 2019 first round selection, a 2020 first round selection, a 2020 third round selection, and a 2019 sixth round selection.
- September 1: Buffalo traded QB A.J. Mccarron to Oakland in exchange for a 2019 fifth round selection.
- September 17: Cleveland traded WR Josh Gordon and a conditional 2019 seventh round selection to New England in exchange for a 2019 fifth round selection.
- October 23: Oakland traded WR Amari Cooper to Dallas in exchange for a 2019 first round selection.
- October 30: Denver traded WR Demaryius Thomas and a 2019 seventh round selection to Houston for a 2019 fourth round selection and a 2019 seventh round selection.
- October 30: Detroit traded WR Golden Tate to Philadelphia for a 2019 third round selection.
- October 30: Jacksonville traded DE Dante Fowler to the Los Angeles Rams for a 2019 third round selection and a 2020 fifth round selection.
- October 30: Green Bay traded S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix to Washington for a 2019 fourth round selection and RB Ty Montgomery to Baltimore for a 2020 seventh round selection.
- Kam Chancellor: The four-time Pro Bowler and two-time second team All-Pro safety retired July 1 due to a neck injury. He played his entire eight-year career with the Seattle Seahawks.
- Antonio Cromartie: The four-time Pro Bowler and one-time All-Pro cornerback, who shares the league record for most yards gained on a play (109 on a missed field goal return) and led the league in interceptions in 2008, announced his retirement after an 11-year career. Cromartie played for the then-San Diego Chargers, New York Jets, Arizona Cardinals, and Indianapolis Colts over the course of his career, before spending the entire 2017 season as an unsigned free agent.
- Dwight Freeney: The 16-year veteran defensive end, who spent most of his career with the Indianapolis Colts, retired April 19. He appeared in seven Pro Bowls, was a four-time All-Pro and led the NFL in sacks during the 2004 season.
- James Harrison: The 15-year NFL veteran linebacker, four-time All-Pro, and five-time Pro Bowler who spent the peak of his career with the Pittsburgh Steelers announced his retirement, at the age of 39, on April 16.
- Devin Hester: The four-time Pro Bowler and three-time All-Pro return specialist holds the NFL record for most all-time return touchdowns (punt and kickoff combined) and most all-time punt return touchdowns. He is widely regarded as one of the best return specialists in NFL history, and was the first person to return the opening kick of the Super Bowl back for a touchdown. Hester, who had spent 2017 out of football, played 11 seasons in the NFL, the majority of them with the Chicago Bears.
- Richie Incognito announced his retirement April 10. The retirement was part of a string of erratic behavior and inconsistent statements on Incognito's part, the only consistent thread being an ongoing contract dispute with his current team, the Buffalo Bills, who have listed him as retired on their roster. Incognito has appeared in four Pro Bowls over the course of a 12-season career with the Bills, Miami Dolphins and then-St. Louis Rams, with most of his success coming in Buffalo. He was released from his contract on May 21 and is free to sign with any team.
- Nick Mangold: The seven-time Pro Bowler and three-time All-Pro retired after 11 seasons, all with the New York Jets. He had spent the 2017 season out of football after the Jets released him.
- Carson Palmer: The 38 year old quarterback for the Arizona Cardinals, who had previously played on the Cincinnati Bengals (who drafted Palmer first overall in 2003) and Oakland Raiders, retired after the 2017 season. The 2002 Heisman Trophy winner appeared in three Pro Bowls, was a second team All-Pro in 2015, and led the NFL in passing yards in 2005.
- Darrelle Revis: The seven-time Pro Bowler and four-time All-Pro spent 11 seasons in the NFL, eight of them with the New York Jets. At his peak, he was one of the most dominant, well-paid, and awarded cornerbacks in the league (only Deion Sanders has had more All-Pro nominations at the position); his level of play had diminished rapidly by the time of his retirement. He announced his retirement July 18.
- Joe Thomas: The ten-time Pro Bowler and seven-time All-Pro offensive tackle retired after an 11-year career with the Cleveland Browns, a career in which he spent much of that time as the Browns' franchise player in an era where the team otherwise performed poorly on the field. A deteriorating left knee contributed to Thomas's retirement.
- Jason Witten: The eleven time Pro Bowler and two time First-team All-Pro Tight end played 15 seasons, all with the Dallas Cowboys. He ranks second all time among tight ends in career receptions and receiving yards. He will be working for ESPN as their Monday Night Football color commentator.
- Rodney Adams
- Martellus Bennett
- Joe Berger*
- Brent Celek 
- Emmett Cleary
- Victor Cruz 
- Vontae Davis 
- Eric Decker
- Elvis Dumervil
- C.J. Fiedorowicz
- Matt Forte
- James Hanna
- David Harris
- Gabe Ikard
- Fred Jackson
- Vincent Jackson
- Thad Lewis
- Ryan Lindley
- Luke McCown
- Kellen Moore
- DeMarco Murray
- Paul Posluszny
- Connor Shaw
- Devon Still
- Zach Strief
- Cedric Thornton
- Aaron Williams
- Eric Wood
- Danny Woodhead
The 2018 NFL Draft was held from April 26 to 28 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. This was the first draft to take place in an NFL stadium, and the first to be held in Texas. The Cleveland Browns selected Baker Mayfield with the first overall pick.
Four referees retired during the 2018 off-season, the most to do so since records on the statistics have been kept.
- Ed Hochuli: At the time of his retirement, Hochuli was the league's longest-tenured referee, having served with the league for 28 seasons, 26 as a head referee. He was succeeded by his son, Shawn Hochuli.
- Terry McAulay: McAulay spent 20 seasons as an official, 17 as a head referee, and officiated three Super Bowls. McAulay will work as a rules analyst for NBC's Sunday Night Football. Shawn Smith, an umpire since 2015, was promoted to replace McAulay.
- Gene Steratore: Steratore spent 15 seasons as an official and was the referee of Super Bowl LII. Staratore was involved in the controversial ruling known as the Calvin Johnson rule, as well as the infamous use of an index card during a game between the Oakland Raiders and Dallas Cowboys. He was one of two officials who also covered NCAA Division I basketball games. Steratore accepted an offer from CBS to fill its rules analyst position, which had been vacant since 2015. Umpire Clay Martin was promoted to referee to replace Steratore.
- Jeff Triplette: Triplette had spent 22 years as an official with the NFL, 19 as a head referee. Alex Kemp replaced Triplette.
In total, 10 officials left the league in the offseason, and seven were hired. Four officials were promoted to the referee position.
Down judge Hugo Cruz was fired for performance-related issues culminating with a missed false start during a Week 6 game between the Los Angeles Chargers and Cleveland Browns. It was the first time in the Super Bowl era that an official was dismissed in-season.
The following playing rule changes have been approved by the Competition Committee for the 2018 season:
- Make permanent the current rule that changes the spot of the ball after a touchback on a kickoff to the 25-yard line. Prior to 2017, the ball was placed at the 20-yard line.
- Update the standards for a "catch" to have:
- Two feet down or any body part other than the hands
- Control of the ball
- Make a "football move" such as making a 3rd step, reaching/extending to the line to gain, tucking the ball away, warding off defensive players, or have the ability to perform such an act.
- The rule for receivers who were going to the ground during the catch process has been deleted. This is in response to several issues regarding the "going to the ground" rule, especially catches by Dallas Cowboys WR Dez Bryant in the 2014 NFL playoffs and one by Pittsburgh Steelers TE Jesse James in 2017 that were overturned due to this rule.
- Allow a designated member of the officiating department (for 2018, NFL Senior VP of Officiating Al Riveron) to instruct game officials to disqualify any player who commits a flagrant non-football act on the field for a foul called on the field. This is in response to a situation where New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski intentionally inflicted a late hit on Buffalo Bills defensive back Tre'Davious White causing a concussion to White. Gronkowski was not ejected for the foul on the field, but did receive a one-game suspension after the NFL's review of the play.
- Illegally batting a ball on a scrimmage down will incur a loss of down in addition to the previous 10-yard penalty.
- In overtime, when a team is ahead by 3 points, a down will run to its conclusion and all applicable points will score, even if there is a loss of possession. Previously, the offense of the trailing team could not legally score if they lost and regained possession and reached the opponent's end zone all on the same play. The rule remains that if there is a double change of possession on a play with one team in the lead, it is the last play of the game.
- If a team scores a touchdown on the final play of regulation which gives them the victory, no extra-point conversion try will be needed.
- A quarterback may slide either head first or feet first to be considered giving himself up on the play, and he is afforded all protections previously provided to a quarterback sliding feet first.
The following bylaws and resolutions were passed:
- Make permanent the liberalization of workout rules for draft prospects.
- For a one-year trial period, liberalize the rules for re-signing a player on waivers.
- Players on injured reserve can be traded.
- Players with injuries deemed major can be placed directly on injured reserve without clearing waivers.
- The 10-day postseason waiver claiming period has been reduced to 1 day.
- Players can be activated from injured reserve after eight games instead of eight weeks.
- Teams have seven business days to complete an injury settlement instead of five.
- Players in certain reserve list categories cannot be reinstated after a team's week 13 game. This restriction was previously applied to the last 30 days of the regular season.
- Clarify roster procedures for players with military obligations.
- For a one-year trial period, teams may contact a player who has been publicly announced to be released before the NFL lists the transaction on a Player Personnel Notice.
The following changes to the kickoff rules were approved at the NFL Spring Owners' Meeting on May 23, 2018:
- Players are required to line up for the kickoff as follows:
- Five players on the kicking team must be on either side of the kicker
- Two players on each side must be lined up outside of the numbers and two additional players on each side must be lined up between the numbers and the hashmarks
- Players on the kicking team (excluding the kicker) may only line up within one yard of the kickoff spot (currently this is limited to five yards)
- The receiving team must have eight players in a fifteen-yard "set-up zone" (from the restraining line ten yards from the kickoff spot, fifteen yards back)
- No wedge blocks. Players would only be able to do a double-team block within the "set-up zone".
- Blocking is prohibited inside the restraining zone (10 yards from the kickoff spot) until the ball touches the ground or is touched in the field of play.
- Once a kickoff lands in the end zone, it would become an automatic touchback. Players will no longer have to "kneel" in the end zone to stop the play.
- Any player(s) being disqualified are subject to replay review.
- It is now a foul (15 yards) for players to lower their helmet to initiate and make contact with an opposing player. The fouling player risks disqualification if:
- Player lowers his helmet to establish a linear body posture prior to initiating or making contact with the helmet
- Player delivering the blow had an unobstructed path to his opponent
- Contact was clearly avoidable (player delivering the blow had other options)
In response to the recent National Anthem protests in the league the past two seasons, any player or staff member who is on the field during the performance of "The Star-Spangled Banner" must stand for the duration of the performance. Such players and staff members are not required to be on the field at that time and may wait in the locker room as an alternative. The NFL will not directly fine offending players or staff members for defying the rule, instead fining the teams, who will in turn have power to fine the players or staff members at their own discretion. The National Football League Players Association filed a grievance with the league over the policy on July 11.
The following people associated with the NFL (or AFL) have died in 2018.
Members of the Pro Football Hall of FameEdit
- Tommy McDonald
- A 1998 inductee of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, McDonald played 12 seasons in the NFL, the majority of them with the Philadelphia Eagles, where he had the majority of his success. The six-time Pro Bowler and four-time All-Pro (first or second team) led the league in both receiving yards and receiving touchdowns in 1961 and was the last non-kicking position player to play without a facemask. He died September 24 at the age of 84.
- Jim Taylor
- The nine-year veteran of the Green Bay Packers was the first member of the team's 1961–1968 dynasty to be inducted into the Hall as a 1976 inductee. The fullback, who played from 1958 through the first World Championship, appeared in five Pro Bowls, was named first or second team All-Pro six times, and led the league in both rushing touchdowns and yards in 1962, leading the latter category in 1961 as well. He finished his career on the inaugural roster of the New Orleans Saints. He died October 13, aged 83.
- Paul Allen
- Allen owned the Seattle Seahawks from 1996 until his death on October 15, at the age of 65. Allen left no wife or children, and his estate is believed to be in control of his sister, Jody Allen. Allen was also the owner of the NBA's Portland Trail Blazers, and part owner of MLS's Seattle Sounders FC.
- Tom Benson
- Benson owned the New Orleans Saints from 1985 until his death on March 15, at the age of 90. His wife Gayle Benson inherited the team.
- Bob McNair
- McNair died November 23, age 80. He had owned the Houston Texans from the time of its establishment in 2002 until his death. His son Cal McNair and his wife Janice McNair are in line to take over as owners, and the government of Harris County, Texas's minority stake in the team would preclude any incoming owner from relocating the team.
- Alex Spanos
- Spanos owned the San Diego Chargers from 1984 until his death; he had been suffering from senile dementia since 2008 and was not directly involved in the team's relocation back to Los Angeles, which was largely orchestrated by his son Dean Spanos, who will head the family consortium that inherits the team. Spanos died October 9, aged 95.
- Grady Alderman
- Billy Cannon
- Dwight Clark
- Lindon Crow
- Bennie Cunningham
- Keith Fahnhorst
- Jim Garrett
- Chris Gedney
- Tom Heckert Jr.
- Wes Hopkins
- Wayne Huizenga
- David Humm
- Edwin Jackson
- Ron Johnson
- Billy Kinard
- Chuck Knox
- Dick Modzelewski
- Jeremy Nunley
- Jack Patera
- Gabriel Rivera
- Isiah Robertson
- Tim Rossovich
- Kona Schwenke
- Clyde Scott
- Tony Sparano
- George Taliaferro
- Frank Varrichione
- Leon "Big Van Vader" White
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Training camps for the 2018 season were held in late July through August. Teams started training camp no earlier than 15 days before the team's first scheduled preseason game.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame Game, in which the Baltimore Ravens defeated the Chicago Bears 17–16, was played on August 2; and was televised nationally by NBC. The Ravens, who made their first Hall of Fame Game appearance, were represented in the 2018 Hall of Fame class by former linebacker Ray Lewis, while the Bears were represented by former linebacker Brian Urlacher.
The 2018 regular season's 256 games were played over a 17-week schedule that began on September 6. Each of the league's 32 teams played a 16-game schedule, with one bye week for each team. The slate also featured games on Monday Nights. There were games played on Thursdays, including the National Football League Kickoff game in prime time on September 6 and games on Thanksgiving Day. The regular season concluded with a full slate of 16 games on December 30, all of which were intra-division matchups, as it had been since 2010.
- Scheduling formula
Under the NFL's current scheduling formula, each team plays the other three teams in its own division twice. In addition, a team plays against all four teams in one other division from each conference. The final two games on a team's schedule are against the two remaining teams in the same conference that finished in the same position in their respective divisions (e.g., the team that finished fourth in its division will play all three other teams in the conference that also finished fourth). The division pairings for 2018 will be as follows:
The entire season schedule was released on April 19, 2018. Highlights of the 2018 season include:
- NFL Kickoff Game: The 2018 season began with the Kickoff Game on September 6, with the Super Bowl LII champion Philadelphia Eagles defeating the Atlanta Falcons 18–12.
- NFL International Series:
- NFL London Games: Three games were played in London in 2018. All games this year were played at Wembley Stadium. The first game featured the Oakland Raiders, who hosted the Seattle Seahawks on October 14; this game was originally scheduled to be played at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, but was relocated to Wembley when it was determined that Tottenham would not be finished in time. The following week, the Los Angeles Chargers hosted the Tennessee Titans, on October 21, and the Jacksonville Jaguars hosted the Philadelphia Eagles on October 28. This was the first time the London games were played on three consecutive weeks, a move the league has taken to try to streamline their London operations.
- NFL Mexico Game: The Los Angeles Rams were scheduled to host the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday, November 19, at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City. However, due to poor field conditions resulting from recent concerts and football games at the facility, as well as a "difficult rainy season", the NFL announced on November 13, 2018 that the game would be moved back to the Rams' home stadium of Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Although attempts were made to re-sod the field, it failed an inspection by NFL officials.
- Thanksgiving Day: As has been the case since 2006, three games were played on November 22. The Chicago Bears beat the Detroit Lions, the Dallas Cowboys beat the Washington Redskins, and the New Orleans Saints beat the Atlanta Falcons in the primetime game.
- Christmas Eve game: Christmas Eve, December 24, falls on a Monday in 2018. As was the case in 2007, a Monday Night Football game was scheduled between two western teams (the Denver Broncos and Oakland Raiders), so that it will be played in the late afternoon local time.
Saturday flexible schedulingEdit
When the entire season schedule was released on April 19, 2018, the league announced flexible scheduling for Saturday games in weeks 15 and 16. The final times of these games were announced on October 24, 2018:
- In week 15, the Texans–Jets game will kick off at 4:30 p.m., while the Browns–Broncos game will kick off at 8:20 p.m. EST, with both games to be broadcast by NFL Network.
- In week 16, two games were moved to Saturday, December 22 on NFL Network: The Redskins–Titans game will start at 4:30 p.m. EST, while the Ravens–Chargers game will start at 8:20 p.m. EST. The other two games that were to possibly be rescheduled, Jaguars–Dolphins and Giants–Colts, remained on Sunday, December 23. This is the first time that games will be rescheduled to a different day (excluding games rescheduled due to severe weather).
In-season scheduling changesEdit
- Week 7: The Bengals–Chiefs game was flexed from 1:00 p.m. ET on CBS to the 8:20 p.m. EDT slot on NBC, replacing the originally-scheduled Rams–49ers game, which was moved to 4:25 p.m. ET on CBS. This is the earliest NBC flex game since NBC Sports took over the Sunday Night package in 2006.
- Week 10: The Dolphins–Packers game was moved from 1:00 p.m. ET to 4:25 p.m. ET on CBS. Additionally, the Cardinals–Chiefs game, originally scheduled at 1:00 p.m. ET on Fox, was cross-flexed to CBS, in the same time slot.
- Week 11: The Vikings–Bears game was flexed from 1:00 p.m. ET on Fox to 8:20 p.m. ET on NBC, replacing the originally scheduled Steelers–Jaguars game which was moved to 1:00 p.m. ET on CBS. Additionally, the Eagles–Saints game was moved from 1:00 p.m. ET to 4:25 p.m. ET on Fox.
- Week 12: The Dolphins–Colts game was moved from 1:00 p.m. ET to 4:25 p.m. ET on CBS.
- Week 13: The Chargers–Steelers game originally scheduled for 1:00 p.m. ET on CBS was flexed to 8:20 p.m. ET on NBC, replacing the originally scheduled 49ers–Seahawks game which was moved to 4:25 p.m. ET on Fox.
- Week 14: The Rams–Bears game originally scheduled for 1:00 p.m. ET on Fox was flexed to 8:20 p.m. ET on NBC, replacing the originally scheduled Steelers–Raiders game which was moved to 4:25 p.m. ET on Fox.
- Week 15: The Redskins–Jaguars game originally scheduled at 1:00 p.m. ET on Fox was cross-flexed to CBS, in the same time slot.
- Week 16: The Giants-Colts game originally scheduled at 1:00 p.m. ET on Fox was cross-flexed to CBS, in the same time slot.
Regular season standingsEdit
Clinched playoff berth.
Clinched division title.
Eliminated from playoff contention.
|1||x – Kansas City Chiefs||West||11||2||0||.846||4–0||9–1||.473||.420||W2|
|2[a]||New England Patriots||East||9||4||0||.692||3–1||6–3||.509||.538||L1|
|5||Los Angeles Chargers||West||10||3||0||.769||2–2||7–2||.456||.377||W3|
|In the Hunt|
|Eliminated from playoff contention|
|15[h][i]||New York Jets||East||4||9||0||.308||1–4||3–7||.479||.423||W1|
|w — Clinched wild card|
|x — Clinched playoff berth|
|y — Clinched division|
|z — Clinched first-round bye|
|* — Clinched home-field advantage|
|1[a]||y – New Orleans Saints||South||11||2||0||.846||3–1||8–2||.462||.455||W1|
|2[a]||y – Los Angeles Rams||West||11||2||0||.846||4–0||7–2||.527||.483||L1|
|In the Hunt|
|10||Green Bay Packers||North||5||7||1||.423||1–2–1||3–6–1||.485||.415||W1|
|11[d]||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||South||5||8||0||.385||2–3||4–6||.503||.485||L1|
|12[d]||New York Giants||East||5||8||0||.385||1–4||4–7||.491||.492||W2|
|Eliminated from playoff contention|
|16[e]||San Francisco 49ers||West||3||10||0||.231||0–4||1–8||.485||.359||W1|
|w — Clinched wild card|
|x — Clinched playoff berth|
|y — Clinched division|
|z — Clinched first-round bye|
|* — Clinched home-field advantage|
The 2018 playoffs will begin on the weekend of January 5–6, 2019, with the Wild Card Playoff round. The four winners of these playoff games will visit the top two seeds in each conference in the Divisional round games the weekend of January 12–13. The winners of those games will advance to the Conference Championship games on January 20. The 2019 Pro Bowl will be held at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida on January 27 and will be broadcast on ESPN and ABC. Super Bowl LIII will be held on February 3 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, on CBS.
Playoff-clinching scenarios for Week 15Edit
- Note: Scenarios involving ties are omitted for simplicity.
- The Kansas City Chiefs can clinch:
- The New England Patriots can clinch the AFC East division with a win AND a Miami loss.
- The Houston Texans can clinch the AFC South division with a win AND losses by both Indianapolis and Tennessee.
- The Los Angeles Chargers can clinch a playoff berth (at least the 5th seed) with a win.
- The New Orleans Saints can clinch a first-round bye with a win AND a Chicago loss.
- The Los Angeles Rams can clinch a first-round bye with a win AND a Chicago loss.
- The Dallas Cowboys can clinch the NFC East division with a win OR losses by both Philadelphia and Washington.
- The Chicago Bears can clinch the NFC North division with a win.
- The Seattle Seahawks can clinch a playoff berth with a win and clinch the 5th seed if Minnesota also loses.
Clinched playoff berthEdit
Clinched division titleEdit
Eliminated from postseason contentionEdit
Records, milestones, and notable statisticsEdit
- Week 1
- Week 2
- Frank Gore passed Curtis Martin to move up to fourth on the all-time rushing yards list with 14,103 career rushing yards.
- Patrick Mahomes became the youngest quarterback to throw six touchdown passes in a game, at age 22 years and 364 days.
- Week 3
- Ryan Fitzpatrick became the first quarterback to throw for at least 400 yards in three consecutive games.
- Week 4
- Adam Vinatieri kicked his 566th career field goal, breaking the record for most field goals in a career previously held by Morten Andersen.
- Week 5
- Tom Brady threw his 500th career touchdown pass, becoming the third quarterback in NFL history to do so (joining Brett Favre and Peyton Manning) and becoming the first to do so playing on one team. On the same pass, Brady threw a touchdown pass to a 71st different receiver, breaking an NFL record previously held by Vinny Testaverde.
- Drew Brees became the NFL's all-time leading passer with 71,941 passing yards, surpassing Brett Favre and Peyton Manning in the process.
- Week 7
- Drew Brees became only the third quarterback in NFL history to defeat all 32 teams, joining Brett Favre and Peyton Manning. He also became the fourth quarterback to throw 500 career touchdown passes.
- Week 8
- Adam Vinatieri set the record for career points scored, with 2,550, breaking a record previously held by Morten Andersen.
- Adam Thielen tied Calvin Johnson's record for 8 consecutive 100-yard receiving games.
- Week 10
- Julio Jones became the fastest player in NFL history to reach 10,000 receiving yards, doing so in 104 games. Jones broke the record previously held by Calvin Johnson, who took 115 games.
- Larry Fitzgerald passed Terrell Owens to move to second on the all-time receiving yards list with 15,952 career receiving yards.
- Week 11
- The Kansas City Chiefs scored 51 points in a 54–51 loss to the Los Angeles Rams, the most points ever scored by a losing team in NFL history. The 105-point aggregate total is also the third highest in NFL history.
- Week 12
- The Houston Texans won their eighth straight game following an 0–3 start, becoming the first team in NFL history to do so.
- Philip Rivers completed 25 consecutive passes to start a game, breaking the record of 22 consecutive completions to start a game previously held by Mark Brunell. This streak also tied Ryan Tannehill's record of 25 consecutive passes at any point in a game. Rivers finished the game completing 28 out of 29 passes (96.6%), breaking the record for completion percentage (92.3%) previously held by Kurt Warner.
Players of the week/monthEdit
The following were named the top performers during the 2018 season:
Player of the Week/Month
Player of the Week/Month
Player of the Week/Month
|1||Patrick Mahomes QB
|Ryan Fitzpatrick QB
|T. J. Watt OLB
|Harrison Smith FS
|Jakeem Grant WR-KR
|Greg Zuerlein K|
|2||Patrick Mahomes QB
|Ryan Fitzpatrick QB
|Darius Leonard OLB
|Danny Trevathan ILB
|Dane Cruikshank SS
|Robbie Gould K|
|3||Ben Roethlisberger QB
|Drew Brees QB
|Matt Milano OLB
|Efe Obada DE
|Justin Tucker K
|Blake Countess SS|
|4||Marcus Mariota QB
|Jared Goff QB
|Jadeveon Clowney OLB
|Demario Davis ILB
|Dwayne Harris WR-KR
|Brett Maher K|
|Sept.||Patrick Mahomes QB
|Jared Goff QB
|J. J. Watt DE
|Khalil Mack OLB
|Justin Tucker K
|Wil Lutz K|
|5||Isaiah Crowell RB
|Drew Brees QB
|T. J. Watt OLB
|Chandler Jones DE
|Denzel Ward CB
|Graham Gano K|
|6||Albert Wilson WR
|Todd Gurley RB
|Za'Darius Smith OLB
|Frank Clark DE
|Jason Myers K
|Mason Crosby K|
|7||Emmanuel Sanders WR
|Cam Newton QB
|Mike Mitchell FS
|Aaron Donald DT
|Dont'a Hightower OLB
|Giorgio Tavecchio K|
|8||James Conner RB
|Adrian Peterson RB
|Dee Ford OLB
|P. J. Williams CB
|Adam Vinatieri K
|Michael Dickson P|
|Oct.||James Conner RB
|Todd Gurley RB
|Dee Ford OLB
|Aaron Donald DT
|Stephen Gostkowski K
|Graham Gano K|
|9||Kareem Hunt RB
|Michael Thomas WR
|Desmond King CB
|Danielle Hunter DE
|Matt Haack P
|Bradley Pinion P|
|10||Ben Roethlisberger QB
|Mitchell Trubisky QB
|Wesley Woodyard ILB
|Leighton Vander Esch MLB
|Stephen Hauschka K
|Tress Way P|
|11||Andrew Luck QB
|Saquon Barkley RB
|Von Miller OLB
|Samson Ebukam OLB
|Daniel Carlson K
|Cody Parkey K|
|12||Philip Rivers QB
|Amari Cooper WR
|J. J. Watt DE
|Eddie Jackson S
|Cyrus Jones CB-PR
|Sebastian Janikowski K|
|Nov.||Andrew Luck QB
|Drew Brees QB
|Chris Jones DE
|Eddie Jackson S
|Justin Tucker K
|Michael Dickson P|
|13||Phillip Lindsay RB
|Todd Gurley RB
|Xavien Howard CB
|Bobby Wagner LB
|Desmond King CB-KR
|Aldrick Rosas K|
Head coaching and front office personnel changesEdit
|Team||2017 head coach||2017 interim||2018 replacement||Reason for leaving||Notes|
|Arizona Cardinals||Bruce Arians||Steve Wilks||Retired||Arians retired from coaching following the 2017 season, finishing the season with a record of 8–8 (.500) and a cumulative record of 49–30–1 (.619) with two playoff appearances. Wilks was hired on January 22, after serving as a defensive coach for the Chicago Bears, San Diego Chargers, and Carolina Panthers since 2006. Wilks's only previous head coaching experience was at Savannah State in 1999.|
|Chicago Bears||John Fox||Matt Nagy||Fired||Fox was fired after the final game of the 2017 season, finishing the season with a record of 5–11 (.313) and a cumulative record of 14–34 (.292) with no playoff appearances. Nagy spent the past five seasons as an offensive assistant with the Kansas City Chiefs, the last two as offensive coordinator; the Bears hired Nagy on January 8 and this will be his first NFL head coaching job.|
|Detroit Lions||Jim Caldwell||Matt Patricia||Caldwell was fired after the final game of the 2017 season, finishing the season with a record of 9–7 (.563) and a cumulative record of 36–28 (.563) with two playoff appearances, but having never won a playoff game as head coach of the Lions. Patricia was hired on February 5, the day after losing Super Bowl LII as the New England Patriots defensive coordinator. He had spent his entire NFL career with the Patriots, starting in 2004 as an offensive assistant before working his way up to defensive coordinator in 2012, winning 3 Super Bowls. This will be his first head coaching job.|
|Indianapolis Colts||Chuck Pagano||Frank Reich||Pagano was fired after the final game of the 2017 season, finishing the season with a record of 4–12 (.250), his first losing season as Colts' head coach, and a cumulative record of 53–43 (.552) with three playoff appearances. On February 6, the Colts announced that they had planned to hire New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels as the team's next head coach, however, McDaniels informed the Colts that he had changed his mind and was returning to the Patriots. The Colts then hired Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich, who was previously a Colts' assistant from 2008–2011. This will be Reich's first head coaching job.|
|New York Giants||Ben McAdoo||Steve Spagnuolo||Pat Shurmur||McAdoo became the Giants' head coach in 2016, leading the Giants to a 13–15 (.464) record over parts of two seasons with one playoff appearance. After accruing a 2–10 (.167) record and benching starter Eli Manning during the season, he was fired on December 4, 2017, and replaced in the interim by defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. Shurmur was announced as the Giants' new head coach on January 22. He had previously served as the head coach of the Cleveland Browns from 2011 to 2012, compiling a record of 9–23 (.281), and an offensive coach for the Philadelphia Eagles and Minnesota Vikings since 2013.|
|Oakland Raiders||Jack Del Rio||Jon Gruden||Del Rio was fired after the 2017 season, finishing the season with a record of 6–10 (.375) and a cumulative record of 25–23 (.521) with one playoff appearance. Gruden, who previously coached the Raiders from 1998 to 2001 and won a Super Bowl with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the end of the 2002 season, confirmed on-air on January 6, that he would be returning to the team as coach. He had spent the previous nine seasons as an on-air analyst for Monday Night Football.|
|Tennessee Titans||Mike Mularkey||Mike Vrabel||Mutual decision||Mularkey and the Titans agreed to part ways after they "couldn't come to an agreement over the future," two days after the Titans' playoff loss to the Patriots. Mularkey had a cumulative record of 20–21 (.488) with one playoff appearance in parts of three seasons with the Titans and guided Tennessee to back-to-back 9–7 (.563) records in his two years as the team's full-time head coach. Vrabel spent the past three seasons as a defensive assistant with the Houston Texans, the last as defensive coordinator; the Titans hired Vrabel on January 20 and this will be his first NFL head coaching job.|
|Team||Departing coach||Reason for leaving||Interim replacement||Notes|
|Cleveland Browns||Hue Jackson||Fired||Gregg Williams||Jackson was fired on October 29, accumulating a 2–5–1 (.313) record during the 2018 season and a 3–36–1 (.088) record for his 2.5-season tenure with the Browns. His dismissal follows a power struggle with offensive coordinator Todd Haley (who was fired at the same time) and the team's 25th consecutive loss away from home; Jackson failed to win a single road game during his tenure and lost every game in 2017. Williams, the team's defensive coordinator, was previously the head coach of the Buffalo Bills from 2001 to 2003, with a record of 17–31 (.354). Jackson currently serves as the Special Assistant to the Head Coach for the Cincinnati Bengals.|
|Green Bay Packers||Mike McCarthy||Joe Philbin||McCarthy was fired on December 2, shortly after the Packers loss to the Arizona Cardinals. McCarthy leaves with a record of 135–85–2 with nine playoff appearances and one Super Bowl championship. Philbin, the team's offensive coordinator, was previously the head coach of the Miami Dolphins from 2012-2015, with a record of 24–28 (.462).|
Front office personnelEdit
|Team||Position||2017 office holder||2017 interim||2018 replacement||Reason for leaving||Notes|
|Cleveland Browns||VP/GM||Sashi Brown||John Dorsey||Fired||Brown was fired on December 7, 2017. He had been the team's attorney since 2013 and de facto general manager since 2016. Dorsey was named the new general manager hours later.|
|Green Bay Packers||GM||Ted Thompson||Brian Gutekunst||Reassigned||Thompson, who had been the team's general manager since 2005, became the team's senior advisor to football operations. Brian Gutekunst, who had been the team's director of player personnel since 2016, was promoted to become the team's new general manager on January 7.|
|Houston Texans||GM||Rick Smith||Brian Gaine||Medical leave||Smith announced that he would take a leave of absence to care for his wife, who is battling breast cancer. He will remain Executive Vice President of Football Operations. Former Buffalo Bills' vice president of player personnel, Brian Gaine, was named the new general manager on January 13, 2018. Previously, Gaine was Texans' director of pro personnel and then director of player personnel from 2014 to 2016.|
|New York Giants||GM||Jerry Reese||Kevin Abrams||Dave Gettleman||Fired||Having been in the organization since 1994, Reese was the Giants' general manager since 2007, leading them to two Super Bowl championships and several years of success. He was fired on December 4 along with head coach Ben McAdoo. He was replaced in the interim by assistant general manager Kevin Abrams. Dave Gettleman, previously general manager of the Carolina Panthers and a 14-year veteran of the Giants' front office (from 1999 to 2012), was hired on December 28, 2017.|
|Buffalo Bills||President||Russ Brandon||Kim Pegula||Resigned||Brandon resigned his position on May 1, 2018. A newspaper report claimed that Brandon was the subject of an internal investigation regarding his personal conduct and workplace behavior, which neither the Bills nor Brandon mentioned in separate statements regarding his departure; Brandon stated he is seeking other opportunities after spending 20 years with the Bills franchise. He was immediately succeeded by co-owner Kim Pegula.|
|Team||Position||2018 office holder||Reason for leaving||Interim replacement||Notes|
|Oakland Raiders||GM||Reggie McKenzie||Fired||Shaun Herock||McKenzie was fired on December 10, 2018 after six-plus seasons as Raiders' GM. Herock, current teams' Director of College Scouting, will serve as the Raiders’ interim General Manager until Oakland settles on a full-time replacement.|
On December 17, 2017, Jerry Richardson, the Panthers' founding owner, announced he was putting the team up for sale. Richardson had previously indicated the team would be put up for sale after his death, but Richardson was accused of paying hush money to cover up questionable conduct, including racial slurs and sexually suggestive requests of employees, hastening Richardson's decision. The Panthers' lease on Bank of America Stadium expires after the 2018 season, which would allow any incoming owner to relocate the team out of Charlotte, North Carolina, to another market if they so desired, only being liable for the remaining debt from stadium renovation. At an estimated $35 million, the debt payment would be a small expense compared to the relocation fee the NFL charged for the two teams that relocated in 2016 and 2017. The two most likely candidates to buy the team as of May 2018[update] were David Tepper, a hedge fund manager with a higher net worth and a minority stake in the Pittsburgh Steelers but fewer ties to Charlotte; and Ben Navarro, a financial services CEO based in Charlotte who had the backing of Richardson's only living son. Tepper was announced as the new owner on May 16, with the announcement coming in time for the league to vote on his bid at the owners meeting on May 19. The sale closed on July 9 with Richardson-era chief operating officer Tina Becker (who ran the franchise after Richardson stepped away from operations) resigning. Tepper immediately stated the franchise would retain the Carolina Panthers name for the time being, but that a new stadium would likely be necessary; he stated that he hoped to build said stadium in Charlotte but would not guarantee the team remains there, claiming he did not know enough about the situation to guarantee the team stays in the Charlotte area.
The Raiders, prior to the 2017 season, committed to relocating to Las Vegas, Nevada, once a new stadium is constructed for them in 2020. In 2016, the Raiders signed a three-year extension with the Oakland Coliseum. The Raiders could choose to stay in the Oakland Coliseum for 2019 with another year-to-year extension or move to Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas, which is undersized but (because of the Los Angeles Chargers' use of the even smaller StubHub Center) would not be the smallest stadium in the NFL. Management at the Oakland Coliseum has indicated they are unwilling to extend their agreement with the Raiders after 2018, which could force the team to move to Sam Boyd Stadium in 2019. In order to secure another season in Oakland, California, Coliseum management indicated in September 2017 that the Raiders would need to offer major concessions to compensate for the financial losses the Coliseum incurs by hosting Raiders games.
Naming rights agreementsEdit
On September 4, University of Phoenix Stadium, the home field of the Arizona Cardinals, was renamed State Farm Stadium. The naming rights agreement is for 18 years; however, the cost of the deal was not disclosed.
On June 20, the Denver Broncos' home stadium was renamed Broncos Stadium at Mile High. The sporting goods chain Sports Authority had held naming rights to the stadium's field (as "Sports Authority Field at Mile High") but had gone out of business in 2016. The previous signage referring to Sports Authority was removed in March. The Broncos hope to resell the naming rights to the stadium to another corporate sponsor in the near future.
On February 16, EverBank Field, the home field of the Jacksonville Jaguars, was renamed TIAA Bank Field, after TIAA's 2017 acquisition of EverBank. The naming rights agreement was for 10 years and $43 million.
Color Rush discontinuationEdit
The Color Rush program was discontinued, and teams were no longer required to wear the special uniforms for Thursday Night Football. Initial plans, which were finalized at the league's owners meeting in May, are for teams to have the option to continue using the existing Nike designs for the program as standard third jerseys.
- Chicago Bears: The Bears brought back their orange alternate jerseys that the team wore from 2005–2009 and 2011. The team announced that the orange uniforms will be worn twice in 2018, and the team will use the navy blue "Monsters of the Midway" throwbacks for one game.
- Jacksonville Jaguars: On April 19, the Jaguars simplified their uniforms in a similar look they had used before 2013. Gold was also eliminated from their previous jerseys and the gradient black and gold helmet was reverted to an all-black gloss shell.
- Los Angeles Rams: On July 27, the Rams announced that due to overwhelming fan demand the NFL relaxed their alternate uniform policy and has permitted them to use their royal blue and yellow throwbacks as their color jerseys for the next two seasons until they present entirely new ones in 2020. When using their white jerseys, the team will still have to use their current set carried over from St. Louis albeit from slight modifications they made to them in 2017.
- Miami Dolphins: On April 19, the Dolphins simplified their uniform outlines to take after their classic aqua-and-orange look. Dark blue was removed from everything but the logo. For the second straight year, the Dolphins will wear their official throwback jerseys twice in 2018.
- Tennessee Titans: On April 4, the Titans introduced new uniforms. Most prominent among the changes is the helmet, which is changing from the white color the team had used since the 1970s (as the Houston Oilers) to navy blue. The color patterns are also simplified, with a new number typeface inspired both by Greek lettering and the shape of the state of Tennessee.
- Pittsburgh Steelers: On May 30, the Steelers unveiled a throwback uniform, that was worn in the late 1970s. Team owner Art Rooney II announced that the team will wear the uniforms for one game.
- San Francisco 49ers: On May 23, 49ers unveiled a new all-white throwback uniform, that was worn in 1994, the year the team won its most recent Super Bowl. The team announced that they will be worn for two games.
- Green Bay Packers: On April 9, the Packers unveiled a patch to commemorate their 100th season.
- Indianapolis Colts: On April 10, the Colts unveiled a patch to commemorate their 35th season in Indianapolis.
- Los Angeles Chargers: The Chargers silently added a patch to commemorate the death of team owner Alex Spanos before Week 9's game against the Seahawks.
- New Orleans Saints: On August 9, the Saints unveiled a patch to commemorate the death of team owner Tom Benson.
- Seattle Seahawks: On October 26, the Seahawks unveiled a patch to commemorate the death of team owner Paul Allen.
This will be the fifth year under the current broadcast contracts with ESPN, CBS, Fox, and NBC. This includes "cross-flexing" (switching) Sunday afternoon games between CBS and Fox before or during the season (regardless of the conference of the visiting team). NBC will continue to air Sunday Night Football, the annual Kickoff game, and the primetime Thanksgiving game. ESPN will continue to air Monday Night Football and the Pro Bowl. CBS will broadcast Super Bowl LIII.
On January 31, the NFL announced that Fox had acquired the broadcast television rights to the Thursday Night Football package under a five-year deal (aligned with the remainder of the NFL's current broadcast contracts). Fox will air 11 games, along with the 2018 NFL Draft (the first time the event has aired on over-the-air television), in simulcast with NFL Network, with the remaining games in the package airing exclusively on NFL Network to satisfy its carriage contracts. CBS and NBC had made bids to renew their previous contracts (CBS had held the rights since 2014, joined by NBC since 2016), but were reluctant to pay a higher rights fee due to the league's ratings downturn.
The NFL agreed to an extension of its digital rights agreement with Verizon Communications under a 5-year, $2.5 billion deal. Unlike the previous deal, it no longer includes exclusivity for streaming in-market and nationally televised NFL games on mobile devices with screens 7 inches (18 cm) or less in size (such as smartphones), in order to account for changes in viewing habits, but still includes enhanced access to highlights and other digital content for Verizon-owned properties. In addition, Verizon announced that it would no longer make these streams exclusive to Verizon Wireless subscribers, and would leverage its portfolio of media brands (such as Yahoo!, which it acquired in 2017) to distribute them to a larger audience. All of the NFL's current television partners have added mobile streaming rights (which were previously reserved to Verizon) to their existing contracts for the 2018 season. Under the terms of the agreement, Verizon must give the majority of the advertising revenue to the broadcast partners.
On April 26, 2018, the NFL announced that it had reached a two-year extension of its agreement with Amazon for shared digital rights to the Thursday Night Football games simulcast with Fox, with a 15% increase in rights fees. To fulfill a request that the streams be available freely, the games will also be made available on Twitch, an Amazon-owned streaming service that was originally designed for video game streaming.
Both of the NFL's national radio contracts, Westwood One for English language and Entravision for Spanish language, expired after the 2017 season. Westwood One's parent company Cumulus Media filed for bankruptcy in November 2017 and began terminating national broadcast contracts and sports agreements in January 2018, putting any contract extensions on hold. The company emerged from bankruptcy on June 4, 2018.
With the release of the 2018 schedule, NFL.com listed ESPN Deportes Radio (which had shared NFL rights with Entravision in 2017 and had carried Super Bowl LII) as the league's national Spanish-language broadcaster. The national English-language broadcaster was still identified as Westwood One, which Westwood One has also confirmed; no press release has been issued in regard to a contract extension with that network, and it is unknown when the current arrangement was signed or when it will end. Additionally, Westwood One removed Sunday afternoon games from their package, instead focusing on the primetime matchups as well as the postseason. SportsUSA, Compass and ESPN Radio, which also has broadcast select Sunday afternoon NFL games, will continue to do so. Meanwhile, Entravision extended the Sunday night rights for 3 years, through 2021, and gained two Super Bowls, the entire AFC Playoff package, the Thursday Night Opener, and a Thanksgiving Day game as part of their new deal.
Only one game into the pre-season, Indianapolis Colts announcer Bob Lamey, who had been with the team for most of the time since their 1984 relocation from Baltimore, retired suddenly after a complaint of him using a racial slur in the 1980s was revealed. Sideline reporter Matt Taylor was named his de facto replacement for the season.
All four broadcast partners will employ rules analysts for the 2018 season, citing changes in the league's rules that have become too complicated for its broadcast teams to handle. NBC hired Terry McAulay to be their rules analyst for Sunday Night Football. CBS hired Gene Steratore to fill their rules analyst position, a position that had been vacant since CBS released Mike Carey in 2015. ESPN hired Jeff Triplette for Monday Night Football. Fox retained both Mike Pereira and Dean Blandino. Additionally, Pereira assists with Fox's Thursday Night Football Coverage.
ESPN will introduce a fully new broadcast team for Monday Night Football. Joe Tessitore will replace Sean McDonough as lead play-by-play man; McDonough will remain with ESPN as a college football announcer. With previous color analyst Jon Gruden returning to coaching, Monday Night Football hired Jason Witten and Booger McFarland as their color commentators; while McFarland offers his commentary from the sidelines, he fills a role similar to the "non-football" player position that Monday Night Football has traditionally relied upon in its past three-person booths (such as Howard Cosell, Dennis Miller and Tony Kornheiser). Lisa Salters, the sideline reporter, carries over from the previous broadcast team. Jeff Triplette will replace Gerald Austin as rules analyst.
Fox initially had planned to hire a new broadcast team for its Thursday Night Football, making an overture to Peyton Manning to serve as color commentator. Since Manning declined the offer, the network announced that it will be placing its existing lead broadcast team of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman on the package, reducing the number of games the duo will call on Sundays (Buck and Aikman will only call the nationally televised "America's Game of the Week" telecasts on Sundays). A version of Fox NFL Sunday will serve as the lead-in to Thursday Night Football, without Curt Menefee or Jimmy Johnson; the show will instead be hosted by panelist Michael Strahan from New York City, displacing Rich Eisen, the studio host for Thursday night pregame since the package's inception in 2006. Strahan will be joined by fellow Fox colleagues Terry Bradshaw and Howie Long.
In previous seasons, Buck did not call any NFL games during late October, working Major League Baseball playoff games instead. For 2018, Fox coordinated its schedule with MLB so that none of its scheduled broadcasts would land on a Thursday (Fox carries the NLCS and the World Series), so Buck will continue to broadcast both sports, crisscrossing the country in seven cities over a 22-day period.
In addition, NBC will introduce a new studio team for Football Night in America. Mike Tirico, who was the on-site host and secondary play-by-play announcer in 2017, became the show's studio host from Stamford, Connecticut, with Liam McHugh moving into Tirico's former role. Dan Patrick, who had been the studio host for FNiA since 2008, declined to sign a long-term contract and left NBC.
On radio, Kurt Warner will replace Boomer Esiason as the color commentator for Westwood One's Monday Night Football broadcasts, after Esiason had filled the role for the previous 18 years. Esiason will continue as a studio host for CBS.
In a surprise announcement made two days before its first game, Amazon announced it would provide its own broadcast team for its eleven games, with Hannah Storm and Andrea Kremer serving as the lead broadcast team. The announcement makes Kremer the first-ever female color analyst for an NFL game, the first time a game has been broadcast with no men involved in the broadcast team, and the first time since Tony Kornheiser left Monday Night Football that the color analyst had no coaching or playing experience. Amazon will offer the standard Fox broadcast team, a British broadcasting team, and a Spanish language feed as alternate audio choices.
Start time changes Primetime showsEdit
The start times for Thursday, Sunday, and Monday Night Football broadcasts will be moved up 5 to 15 minutes. Thursday and Sunday Night games will now kick off at 8:20 p.m. ET, while Monday Night games will now kick off at 8:15 p.m. ET.
Most watched regular season gamesEdit
After two years of decline, television viewership for the NFL slightly rebounded in 2018, with ratings up 3% as a whole through the first ten weeks of the season, despite a major decline (16%) in other programming on the same networks.
- DH = doubleheader; SNF = NBC Sunday Night Football
|Rank||Date||Matchup||Network||Viewers (millions)||TV rating ||Window||Significance|
|1||November 22, 4:30 ET||Washington Redskins||23||Dallas Cowboys||31||Fox||30.5||12.5||Thanksgiving||Cowboys–Redskins Rivalry|
|2||November 22, 12:30 ET||Chicago Bears||23||Detroit Lions||16||CBS||26.5||12.3||Thanksgiving||Bears–Lions Rivalry|
|3||November 4, 8:20 ET||Green Bay Packers||17||New England Patriots||31||NBC||23.7||13.7||SNF|
|4||November 25, 4:25 ET||Pittsburgh Steelers||17||Denver Broncos||24||CBS||23.7||13.5||Late DH[a]|
|5||September 9, 4:25 ET||Dallas Cowboys||8||Carolina Panthers||16||Fox||23.3||13.1||Late DH[b]|
|6||December 2, 4:25 ET||Minnesota Vikings||10||New England Patriots||24||23.2||13.5||Late DH[c]|
|7||September 23, 4:25 ET||Dallas Cowboys||13||Seattle Seahawks||24||22.2||12.7||Late DH[d]|
|8||November 4, 4:25 ET||Los Angeles Rams||35||New Orleans Saints||45||22.1||13.0||Late DH[e]|
|9||September 9, 8:20 ET||Chicago Bears||23||Green Bay Packers||24||NBC||22.1||12.5||SNF||Bears–Packers Rivalry|
|10||October 28, 4:25 ET||Green Bay Packers||27||Los Angeles Rams||29||Fox||21.9||12.8||Late DH[f]|
*Note — Late DH matchups listed in table are the matchups that were shown to the largest percentage of the market.
- ^ PIT/DEN was shown in 87% of the markets during the late doubleheader time slot of CBS coverage.
- ^ DAL/CAR was shown in 80% of the markets during the late doubleheader time slot of Fox coverage.
- ^ MIN/NE was shown in 90% of the markets during the late doubleheader time slot of Fox coverage.
- ^ DAL/SEA was shown in 85% of the markets during the late doubleheader time slot of Fox coverage.
- ^ LAR/NO was shown in 100% of the markets during the late doubleheader time slot of Fox coverage.
- ^ GB/LAR was shown in 94% of the markets during the late doubleheader time slot of Fox coverage.
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We hired them to be Booger McFarland and Jason Witten. We hired Booger to be a strongly opinionated irreverent, outrageous character who authentically sounds like a guy who grew up in the country of Winnsboro, Louisiana, sounds like a guy who played nose tackle and doesn't really give a ... about what he says or who cares what he is thought of and just be your funny, irreverent, football smart, savvy self. And we hired Jason Witten to be Jason Witten, a guy who just played 15 years in the league at the highest level and future Hall of Famer and not try to role play.
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