2017 NFL Season
2017 National Football League season
Regular season
Duration September 7, 2017 (2017-09-07) - December 31, 2017 (2017-12-31)
Playoffs
Start date January 6, 2018
Super Bowl LII
Date February 4, 2018
Site U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Pro Bowl
Date January 28, 2018
Site Camping World Stadium, Orlando, Florida

The 2017 NFL season, the 98th and current season in the history of the National Football League (NFL), began on September 7, 2017, with the Kansas City Chiefs defeating the defending Super Bowl LI champion New England Patriots 42-27 in the NFL Kickoff Game. The season will conclude with Super Bowl LII, the league's championship game, on February 4, 2018, at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

For the second consecutive year, a team relocated to the Los Angeles metropolitan area, as the former San Diego Chargers announced their intent to relocate to the city in January 2017.[1][2]

Player movements and retirements

The 2017 NFL League year began on March 9 at 4:00 p.m. EST. On March 7, clubs were allowed to contact and enter into contract negotiations with the agents of players who became unrestricted free agents upon the expiration of their contracts two days later. On March 9, clubs exercised options for 2017 on players who have option clauses in their contracts, submitted qualifying offers to their restricted free agents with expiring contracts and to whom desire to retain a Right of Refusal/Compensation, submitted a Minimum Salary Tender to retain exclusive negotiating rights to their players with expiring 2016 contracts and who have fewer than three accrued seasons of free agent credit, and 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 collected salary cap hit below the actual cap). The 2017 trading period also began the same day.

Free agency

A total of 496 players were eligible for some form of free agency at the beginning of the free agency period.[3] Among the high-profile players who changed teams via free agency were cornerbacks A.J. Bouye (from Texans to Jaguars), Logan Ryan (from Patriots to Titans), and Stephon Gilmore (from Bills to Patriots); safeties Barry Church (from Cowboys to Jaguars), Johnathan Cyprien (from Jaguars to Titans), Micah Hyde (from Packers to Bills), and Tony Jefferson (from Cardinals to Ravens); linebackers Jabaal Sheard (from Patriots to Colts), Malcolm Smith (from Raiders to 49ers), and Manti Te'o (from Chargers to Saints); defensive tackles Johnathan Hankins (from Giants to Colts) and Calais Campbell (from Cardinals to Jaguars); offensive tackles Andrew Whitworth (from Bengals to Rams), Kelvin Beachum (from Jaguars to Jets), Matt Kalil (from Vikings to Panthers), Mike Remmers (from Panthers to Vikings), Ricky Wagner (from Ravens to Lions), Riley Reiff (from Lions to Vikings), and Russell Okung (from Broncos to Chargers); offensive guards Kevin Zeitler (from Bengals to Browns), Larry Warford (from Lions to Saints), Ronald Leary (from Cowboys to Broncos), and T.J. Lang (from Packers to Lions); tight ends Martellus Bennett (from Patriots to Packers) and Jared Cook (from Packers to Raiders); wide receivers Alshon Jeffery (from Bears to Eagles), Brandon Marshall (from Jets to Giants), DeSean Jackson (from Redskins to Buccaneers), Kenny Britt (from Rams to Browns), Pierre Garçon (from Redskins to 49ers), Robert Woods (from Bills to Rams), Terrelle Pryor (from Browns to Redskins), and Torrey Smith (from 49ers to Eagles); running backs Latavius Murray (from Raiders to Vikings), Adrian Peterson (from Vikings to Saints), Eddie Lacy (from Packers to Seahawks), and Jamaal Charles (from Chiefs to Broncos); fullbacks Mike Tolbert (from Panthers to Bills) and Patrick DiMarco (from Falcons to Bills); quarterback Mike Glennon (from Buccaneers to Bears).

Trades

Notable retirements

At one point, Jay Cutler had also announced retirement, but later rescinded and signed with the Miami Dolphins. Cutler previously played for the Chicago Bears.

Draft

The 2017 NFL Draft was held on April 27-29, 2017 in Philadelphia. The Cleveland Browns selected Myles Garrett with the first overall pick.

Preseason

Training camps for the 2017 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.

Prior to the start of the regular season, each team played four preseason exhibition games, beginning on August 10. The preseason began on the evening of August 3 with the 2017 Pro Football Hall of Fame Game, that featured the Dallas Cowboys (represented in the 2017 Hall of Fame Class by owner Jerry Jones) who hosted Arizona Cardinals (represented by former quarterback Kurt Warner). It was televised nationally on NBC.[16] The 64-game preseason schedule ended on August 31; a 65th game, that of the 2017 Texas Governor's Cup, was canceled due to the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

Regular season

The 2017 regular season's 256 games will be played over a 17-week schedule which began on September 7. Each of the league's 32 teams plays a 16-game schedule, with one bye week for each team. The slate also features games on Monday nights. There are games played on Thursday, including the National Football League Kickoff game in prime time on September 7 and games on Thanksgiving Day. The regular season will conclude with a full slate of 16 games on Sunday, December 31, all of which will be intra-division matchups, as it has 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 teams in the team's own conference in the divisions the team was not set to play which finished the previous season in the same rank in their division (e.g. the team which finished first in its division the previous season would play each other team in its conference that also finished first in its respective division). The preset division pairings for 2017 will be as follows.

   Intra-conference
AFC East vs AFC West
AFC North vs AFC South
NFC East vs NFC West
NFC North vs NFC South

   Inter-conference
AFC East vs NFC South
AFC North vs NFC North
AFC South vs NFC West
AFC West vs NFC East

Highlights of the 2017 schedule include:

The entire schedule was released on April 20, 2017.

In-season scheduling changes

The following games were moved or canceled because of severe weather, by way of flexible scheduling, or for other reasons:

  • Preseason Week 4: Due to the effects of Hurricane Harvey in the Houston area, the Cowboys-Texans game was eventually canceled. The 2017 Texas Governor's Cup preseason game, originally scheduled to be played at Houston's NRG Stadium, was then initially moved to the Cowboys' AT&T Stadium, before the NFL opted instead to cancel the game altogether in order to allow Texans' players and coaches to reunite with their families as well as to assist with the relief efforts.[23]
  • Week 1: Due to the potential impact from Hurricane Irma, the Buccaneers-Dolphins game was rescheduled to Week 11 (November 19), in which both teams originally had their bye.[24]

Regular season standings

Division

Conference

AFC
# Team Division W L T PCT DIV CONF SOS SOV STK
Division leaders
1 Pittsburgh Steelers North 2 0 0 1.000 1-0 1-0 .000 .000 W2
2 Denver Broncos West 2 0 0 1.000 1-0 1-0 .000 .000 W2
3 Miami Dolphins East 1 0 0 1.000 0-0 1-0 .000 .000 W1
4 Tennessee Titans South 1 1 0 .500 1-0 1-1 .000 .000 W1
Wild Cards
5 Kansas City Chiefs West 2 0 0 1.000 0-0 1-0 .000 .000 W2
6 Oakland Raiders West 2 0 0 1.000 0-0 2-0 .000 .000 W2
In the hunt
7 Baltimore Ravens North 2 0 0 1.000 2-0 2-0 .000 .000 W2
8 Buffalo Bills East 1 1 0 .500 1-0 1-0 .000 .000 L1
9 Jacksonville Jaguars South 1 1 0 .500 1-1 1-1 .000 .000 L1
10 Houston Texans South 1 1 0 .500 0-1 1-1 .000 .000 W1
11 New England Patriots East 1 1 0 .500 0-0 0-1 .000 .000 W1
12 Los Angeles Chargers West 0 2 0 .000 0-1 0-2 .000 .000 L2
13 Cleveland Browns North 0 2 0 .000 0-2 0-2 .000 .000 L2
14 Cincinnati Bengals North 0 2 0 .000 0-1 0-2 .000 .000 L2
15 New York Jets East 0 2 0 .000 0-1 0-2 .000 .000 L2
16 Indianapolis Colts South 0 2 0 .000 0-0 0-0 .000 .000 L2
Tiebreakers[a]
  1. ^ When breaking ties for three or more teams under the NFL's rules, they are first broken within divisions, then comparing only the highest ranked remaining team from each division.
NFC
# Team Division W L T PCT DIV CONF SOS SOV STK
Division leaders
1 Atlanta Falcons South 2 0 0 1.000 0-0 2-0 .000 .000 W2
2 Detroit Lions North 2 0 0 1.000 0-0 2-0 .000 .000 W2
3 Los Angeles Rams West 2 1 0 .667 1-0 1-1 .000 .000 W1
3 Philadelphia Eagles East 2 1 0 .667 2-0 2-0 .000 .000 W1
Wild Cards
5 Carolina Panthers South 2 0 0 1.000 0-0 1-0 .000 .000 W2
6 Tampa Bay Buccaneers South 1 0 0 1.000 0-0 1-0 .000 .000 W1
In the hunt
7 Dallas Cowboys East 1 1 0 .500 1-0 1-0 .000 .000 L1
8 Minnesota Vikings North 1 1 0 .500 0-0 1-0 .000 .000 L1
9 Green Bay Packers North 1 1 0 .500 0-0 1-1 .000 .000 L1
10 Washington Redskins East 1 1 0 .500 0-1 1-1 .000 .000 W1
11 Seattle Seahawks West 1 1 0 .500 1-0 1-1 .000 .000 W1
12 Arizona Cardinals West 1 1 0 .500 0-0 0-1 .000 .000 W1
13 Chicago Bears North 0 2 0 .000 0-0 0-2 .000 .000 L2
14 New York Giants East 0 2 0 .000 0-1 0-2 .000 .000 L2
15 New Orleans Saints South 0 2 0 .000 0-0 0-1 .000 .000 L2
16 San Francisco 49ers West 0 3 0 .000 0-2 0-3 .000 .000 L3
Tiebreakers[a]
  1. ^ When breaking ties for three or more teams under the NFL's rules, they are first broken within divisions, then comparing only the highest ranked remaining team from each division.

Notable deaths

The following people associated with the NFL (or AFL) have died in 2017.[25]

Dan Rooney

Dan Rooney was chairman and plurality owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers and one of the sons of founding owner Art Rooney, Sr. Having been officially involved with the franchise since 1960, Rooney was a part of all six of the Steelers' Super Bowl victories. In addition to this, Rooney was considered an active and progressive owner in the league's operations, most famously by successfully pushing for the Rooney Rule, an affirmative action policy requiring all NFL franchises to interview persons of color for head coaching vacancies. Concurrently with his role with the Steelers, Rooney also served as United States Ambassador to Ireland from 2009 to 2014. Rooney died on April 13 at the age of 84.

Others

Rule changes

The following rule changes were approved for the 2017 NFL season at the owner's meeting on March 28, 2017:[26]

  • Defensive players are now prohibited from running toward the line of scrimmage and leaping or hurdling over offensive linemen on field goal or PAT attempts, similar to a change made in college football for the 2017 season. Previously this action was permitted as long as the leaper/hurdler did not land on other players.
  • Include in the definition of a "defenseless player" receivers tracking the quarterback or looking back for the ball, including inside the legal contact (5 yards from the line of scrimmage) zone.
  • Egregious hits to the head (similar to the "targeting" rule in NCAA football) will now result in an automatic ejection.
  • The replay control center will make the final ruling on reviewed plays instead of the game referee, although the referee can still provide input on reviewable plays.
  • The sideline replay monitor (the "hood") will be eliminated and replaced with a tablet on the field for the referee to review with the replay control center.
  • Crackback blocks are now prohibited by a backfield player in motion, even if he is not more than two yards outside the tackle box when the ball is snapped.
  • Make permanent the rule that players who commit two certain types of unsportsmanlike conduct penalties (throwing punches/forearms/kicking, even if they do not connect, directing abusive, threatening, or insulting language toward opponents, teammates, game officials or league officials, and using baiting or taunting acts or words that may engender ill will between teams) in the same game will be automatically ejected.
  • Extend for a second season the change in the touchback spot after a kickoff/safety free kick to the 25 yard line.
  • Make actions to conserve time (that usually results in a 10-second runoff) illegal after the two-minute warning of each half/overtime. Previously this only applied in the final minute of each half or overtime.
  • If a team commits multiple fouls on the same down with the intent of manipulating the game clock, the team will be penalized 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct and the game clock will be reset. This change was made in response to both the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens employing this strategy by intentionally holding the defensive players to allow the game clock to run down or run out (in the case of the Ravens' game vs. the Cincinnati Bengals) during the previous season.
  • In response to the move of Sarah Thomas from Line Judge to Head Linesman for the 2017 season, the NFL renamed the officiating position of the Head Linesman to "Down Judge".

The following rule changes were approved for the 2017 NFL season at the NFL Spring League meeting on May 23, 2017:[27]

  • Overtime has been shortened from 15 minutes to 10 minutes for preseason and regular season games. Playoff games will continue to have 15 minutes for overtime periods.
  • Restrictions on celebrations have been relaxed, removing penalties for group celebrations, going to the ground to celebrate, or using the ball as a prop.
  • Teams can bring two players back from injured reserve instead of one.
  • Teams can now cut their preseason rosters from 90 players to 53 on one day, removing the deadline to get the roster down to 75 players before the final preseason game.
  • Teams will not be required to give candidates for general manager final say over the 53-man roster.

The following will be "points of emphasis" for the 2017 season:[28]

  • Blindside blocks of a defender in the head or neck area while the defender is in a defenseless position
  • Low hits on quarterbacks at or below the knees
  • "Launching" at players by leaving both feet to impact a defender anywhere on his body with the helmet
  • Contact downfield between receivers and defensive players, closely enforcing both offensive and defensive pass interference or illegal contact/holding

The ban on teams contacting potential coaching candidates until that candidate's team has been eliminated from the playoffs was tabled.

Records, milestones, and notable statistics

Week 1
Week 2

Head coaching and front office personnel changes

Head coaches

Offseason

Team 2016 head coach 2016 interim 2017 replacement Reason for leaving Story/accomplishments
Buffalo Bills Rex Ryan Anthony Lynn Sean McDermott Fired Ryan was fired with one week remaining in the 2016 regular season and a 15-16 record with no playoff appearances in two seasons. His twin brother, assistant head coach Rob Ryan, was also dismissed.[31] Ryan signed on as a commentator for ESPN,[32] replacing Trent Dilfer.[33] Lynn began the 2016 season as running backs coach, then moved to offensive coordinator when Greg Roman was fired in week 3, then interim head coach after the Ryans' dismissal. Lynn lost his one game as interim head coach.[34] Former Carolina Panthers' defensive coordinator Sean McDermott was named as the Bills' new head coach on January 11, 2017.[35] Meanwhile, Lynn was hired as the new head coach of the Los Angeles Chargers.
Denver Broncos Gary Kubiak Vance Joseph Retired Kubiak stepped down after two seasons due to health concerns, with a victory in Super Bowl 50 and a 24-10 record, including postseason games.[36] Vance Joseph, who spent the previous season as the Miami Dolphins' defensive coordinator, was hired on January 11, 2017.[37]
Jacksonville Jaguars Gus Bradley Doug Marrone Fired Bradley was fired with two weeks remaining in the 2016 season and a 14-48 (.226) record with no playoff appearances in four seasons.[38] He is expected to join Anthony Lynn with the Chargers, with Bradley as defensive coordinator.[39] Marrone, the Jaguars' offensive line coach, was previously head coach of the Buffalo Bills from 2013-14; he went 1-1 in his two games as interim head coach of the Jaguars.[40] On January 9, 2017, the Jaguars announced that Marrone would be named permanent head coach.[41]
Los Angeles Chargers Mike McCoy Anthony Lynn McCoy was fired after four seasons, with one playoff appearance and a 27-37 record.[42] He then joined the Denver Broncos, serving as Vance Joseph's offensive coordinator.

Anthony Lynn was hired as the Chargers' new head coach on January 12, 2017.[43]

Los Angeles Rams Jeff Fisher John Fassel Sean McVay After receiving a two-year contract extension prior to the season, Fisher was fired after going 4-9 through the first 13 games of the 2016 season, and 31-45-1 (.414) in his five-year tenure in St. Louis and Los Angeles. Under his tenure, the Rams never finished better than 7-8-1 (2012) and never reached the playoffs.[44] Fassel, the son of former NFL head coach Jim Fassel, has been the Rams' special teams coach since 2012; he went 0-3 in the interim. On January 12, Washington Redskins Offensive Coordinator Sean McVay was named head coach. Sean McVay is the grandson of former San Francisco 49ers GM John McVay. At the time of his hiring, McVay was age 30, making him the youngest person to become a head coach (excluding the player-coaches of the 1920s) in NFL history.
San Francisco 49ers Chip Kelly Kyle Shanahan Kelly was fired after one season with a 2-14 record.[45][46] Kyle Shanahan, who most recently served as the Atlanta Falcons' offensive coordinator, was named the new coach of the 49ers on February 6, 2017. Due to league anti-tampering rules, the 49ers had to wait until after the completion of the Falcons' playoff run, before formally hiring Shanahan.[47]

Front office personnel

Offseason

Team Position 2016 office holder Reason for leaving 2017 office holder Notes
San Francisco 49ers GM Trent Baalke Fired John Lynch Baalke, who spent the past twelve years with the team, informed KNBR-AM in San Francisco on January 1, 2017, that he had been fired.[46][48] On January 29, 2017, Lynch, a former player and broadcaster, was named the general manager of the San Francisco 49ers; it is his first front office position.[49][50]
Jacksonville Jaguars EVP-FO position created Tom Coughlin Coughlin, the team's inaugural head coach, was rehired as executive vice president of football operations on January 9, 2017. He had spent the 2016 season out of football after several years of coaching the New York Giants.
Indianapolis Colts GM Ryan Grigson Fired Chris Ballard Grigson was relieved of his duties as Colts general manager on January 21, 2017.[51] On January 30, 2017, Chris Ballard, who had spent the past four seasons as director of football operations for the Kansas City Chiefs, was named the new GM of the Colts.
Washington Redskins GM Scot McCloughan TBA McCloughan was fired on March 9, 2017, after two seasons with the Redskins.[52] Doug Williams was named senior vice president of player personnel on June 13, 2017.[53]
Buffalo Bills GM Doug Whaley Brandon Beane Whaley was fired the morning of April 30, 2017, immediately following the draft. He had spent seven seasons with the Bills, four of them as general manager.[54] Brandon Beane, who had spent the previous 19 seasons with the Carolina Panthers (most recently as assistant general manager), was hired as the new general manager on May 9, 2017.[55]
Kansas City Chiefs GM John Dorsey Brett Veach Dorsey was unexpectedly fired on June 22, 2017 after four seasons.[56] Brett Veach, who had spent the past four seasons as the Chiefs co-director of player personnel, was promoted to general manager on July 10, 2017.[57]
Carolina Panthers GM Dave Gettleman Marty Hurney Gettleman was unexpectedly fired after four seasons on July 17, 2017.[58]Marty Hurney, who was the Panther's GM from 2002-2012, was rehired as the interim general manager for the 2017 season. The team plans to conduct a search for a permanent general manager after the season ends.[59]

Stadiums

Atlanta Falcons

The Atlanta Falcons will play their first season at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, after playing in the Georgia Dome for the previous 25 seasons.

Naming rights

Arizona Cardinals

The stadium in which the Arizona Cardinals play their home games is in the process of obtaining a new naming rights agreement. The University of Phoenix, which owns the naming rights to the Cardinals' home field, is planning to terminate the final nine years of a 20-year agreement, but will continue to keep its name on the stadium.[60]

Denver Broncos

The stadium in which the Denver Broncos play their home games is in the process of obtaining a new naming rights agreement. Sporting goods retailer Sports Authority, which had owned the naming rights to the Broncos' home field since 2011, filed for bankruptcy in March 2016, and liquidated all of their stores.[61] The Broncos bought out the existing naming rights contract with permission from the Delaware District United States bankruptcy court in August 2016.[62] Three months later, the Broncos selected American talent agency WME-IMG to secure a new naming rights partner for their home field,[63] which, to date, still carries the name Sports Authority Field at Mile High.

Relocations

San Diego Chargers' relocation to Los Angeles

On January 12, 2017, the San Diego Chargers exercised their option to relocate to Los Angeles as the Los Angeles Chargers. They will be joining the Los Angeles Rams as tenants in their new stadium, Los Angeles Stadium at Hollywood Park in Inglewood, California when that stadium is complete in 2020. For the time being, the Chargers will play at the 30,000 seat StubHub Center in Carson, California, the smallest venue (in terms of number of seats) the league has used for a full season since 1956.[2]

Oakland Raiders' relocation to Las Vegas

On January 19, 2017, the Oakland Raiders filed paperwork to relocate to Las Vegas, Nevada. The NFL officially approved the Raiders relocation to Las Vegas on March 27. Unlike the Chargers, the Raiders will remain at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum through at least the 2018 season (with the 2019 season to be determined) while Las Vegas Stadium is built, with the team moving to Nevada in 2019 or 2020.[64]

Attendance

The Los Angeles Rams announced to have 60,128 spectators in the first home game on week 1. However, reports estimate that spectators only filled a third of the 93,607 seats of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.[65] The Los Angeles Chargers did not sell out their week 2 game at the 30,000 seat StubHub Center.[66]

New uniforms and patches

  • Twenty-five teams transitioned to Nike's new uniform template.[67] While most teams have just transitioned to it without any actual changes to the uniforms themselves, the New Orleans Saints,[68]Cincinnati Bengals,[69] and Los Angeles Rams[70] uniforms are the most noticeable in it, fixing their collars in the process.
  • The Detroit Lions unveiled new uniforms on April 13, 2017, eliminating all black elements from the uniform and logo. They added a new alternate uniform as well as a new Color Rush uniform.[71]
  • The Los Angeles Rams announced they would be switching their primary helmets to white and blue, similar to their Color Rush helmets. The team had fans vote on the color of their facemask, which would be white, and the design of their pants, which would be white with a blue stripe. The Rams also announced that they would explore a full rebrand in the near future.[72]
  • The Cincinnati Bengals will wear a patch to commemorate their 50th season.[73]
  • The San Francisco 49ers have altered their sleeve striping from 3 stripes to 2 stripes.[74]
  • The Pittsburgh Steelers will wear a patch to honor their former chairman, the late Dan Rooney, who died in April, at the age of 84. The patch will feature a shamrock, with Rooney's initials "DMR". The last time the Steelers wore a jersey patch was when Art Rooney died in 1988. They also donned a helmet decal to honor Chuck Noll, who died in 2014.[75]
  • The Dallas Cowboys will wear blue jerseys at home on a more regular basis, marking the first time the team has worn blue jerseys at home outside of Thanksgiving games since the NFL allowed teams to wear white jerseys at home in 1964. Despite the team's well-documented blue jersey "jinx", player preference as well as stronger retail sales of the navy blue jerseys over the white ones have prompted the team's decision. The blue jerseys will be worn for "high-profile" games at AT&T Stadium.[76]

Media

Broadcast rights

This is the fourth season 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. NBC will also serve as the broadcaster of Super Bowl LII. This will also be the second and final year of the current Thursday Night Football contract with CBS, NBC, and NFL Network. Along with ESPN's simulcasted Wild Card game on ABC, ESPN announced on May 24, 2017 that the 2018 Pro Bowl will also be simulcast on ABC, marking the return of the Pro Bowl to the network for the first time since 2003.[77] For the first 9 weeks of the regular season, ESPN2 will simulcast ESPN Deportes' Spanish-language Monday Night Football broadcasts. The simulcast will end after Week 9 due to ESPN2's Monday-night college basketball broadcasts.[78]

Although never explicitly announced, the league continued the moratorium on its blackout policy, ensuring all games will be televised in the market of their home teams regardless of ticket sales.[79]

In over-the-top rights, Amazon Video acquired non-exclusive streaming rights to the 10 broadcast television Thursday Night Football games for $50 million. These streams will be exclusive to paid Amazon Prime subscribers, in contrast to Twitter, which held the rights to the same package in 2016 and had made those streams free to most of the world.[80][81]

Verizon Communications acquired international streaming rights to an NFL International Series game in London between the Baltimore Ravens and Jacksonville Jaguars, in a similar arrangement to the 2015 game that was streamed by Yahoo!--which has since been acquired by Verizon. The game will stream across Verizon's platforms, including Yahoo!, AOL, go90, and Complex.[82][83] Despite the loss of TNF streaming, NFL Network will continue to partner with Twitter for streaming shows, including NFL Blitz Live (which premiered on August 29, 2017 and will run on Monday to Thursday nights through the season), and other video content.[84][85]

This is also the final season of the NFL's current national radio contract with Westwood One.[86]

Commercials

The league has sought to reduce the number of standard commercial breaks (media timeouts) on its telecasts from 21 to 16, four in each quarter, with each break extended by one additional 30-second commercial. One particular scenario the league sought to eliminate is the "double-up," in which a network cuts to a commercial after a scoring play, then airs the kickoff, and again goes to commercial before play from scrimmage resumes. Under the proposal, the league will allow networks to cut to commercial during instant replay reviews, which it had not been allowed to do before. Commissioner Roger Goodell stated that the changes are being made in an attempt to consolidate downtime between the actual game play so that there are fewer and less noticeable interruptions; he does not expect the changes to have an appreciable impact on the real-time length of a game, which currently clocks in at slightly over three hours.[87]

The NFL will also, as a trial, lift its ban on the broadcast of commercials for distilled spirits during its telecasts. However, they are subject to restrictions; a maximum of four liquor ads may be broadcast per-game, along with two per-pregame and postgame show. These ads may not contain football-related themes or target underage viewers, and must contain a "prominent social responsibility message".[88][89]

Personnel changes

Tony Romo, who announced his retirement as a player on April 4, 2017, was hired by CBS, and will replace Phil Simms as lead color commentator. Simms and Nate Burleson, who comes over from NFL Network, will replace Tony Gonzalez and Bart Scott on CBS's pregame show, The NFL Today.[90][91]Jay Cutler also announced his retirement from professional football on May 5 and was slated to join Fox as a color analyst for its NFL coverage; he later rescinded that announcement in August and joined the Miami Dolphins.[92] Gonzalez will move to Fox, where he will join Fox NFL Kickoff; upon his departure, Gonzalez stated that he wished to pursue opportunities closer to his home in California, rather than travel to New York weekly to appear on CBS. James Lofton, coming over from radio, will replace Solomon Wilcots as a CBS analyst.[93]

On May 31, 2017, it was announced that Mike Tirico would replace Al Michaels on play-by-play on NBC's portion of the Thursday Night Football package, joined by Cris Collinsworth.[94] The NFL had previously required this role to be filled by NBC's lead broadcast team of Michaels and Collinsworth; Tirico called a limited slate of games in 2016, including several NBC-broadcast games as a fill-in for Michaels (who voluntarily took several games off due to the increased number he was calling that season), and as part of a secondary team for selected games the TNF package.[95][96] He will also succeed Bob Costas as the lead studio host for NBC.[97][98] Due to its proximity to the 2018 Winter Olympics (where he is also succeeding Bob Costas as lead host), Tirico will not participate in NBC's Super Bowl LII coverage.[99]

Beth Mowins was the second woman to call play-by-play for a national NFL broadcast, and was the first to do so since Gayle Sierens in 1987, when she served as play-by-play announcer for the nightcap in ESPN's Week 1 Monday Night doubleheader, with Rex Ryan as her color commentator.[100] In an unusual case of a broadcaster working for two networks in the same season, Mowins will also call a regional game for CBS in Week 3, with Jay Feely as her partner.[101]

Television viewers and ratings

Most watched regular season games

Rank Date Matchup Network Viewers (millions) TV rating [102] Window Significance
1 September 17, 4:25 ET Dallas Cowboys 17 Denver Broncos 42 Fox 26.0 14.3 Late DH[a]
2 September 10, 8:30 ET New York Giants 3 Dallas Cowboys 19 NBC 24.4 13.4 SNF Cowboys-Giants Rivalry
3 September 10, 4:25 ET Seattle Seahawks 9 Green Bay Packers 17 Fox 22.8 12.7 Late DH[b]
4 September 7, 8:30 ET Kansas City Chiefs 42 New England Patriots 27 NBC 21.8 12.6 Kickoff Game
5 September 17, 8:30 ET Green Bay Packers 23 Atlanta Falcons 34 20.2 11.3 SNF NFC Championship Game Rematch

*Note -- Late DH matchups listed in table are the matchups that were shown to the largest percentage of the market.

  1. ^ DAL/DEN was shown in 81% of the markets during the late doubleheader time slot of Fox coverage.
  2. ^ SEA/GB was shown in 89% of the markets during the late doubleheader time slot of Fox coverage

References

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