2020 NFL season

Last updated

2020 National Football League season
Regular season
DurationSeptember 10, 2020 (2020-09-10)  January 3, 2021 (2021-01-03)
Playoffs
Start dateJanuary 9, 2021
AFC Champions Kansas City Chiefs
NFC Champions Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Super Bowl LV
DateFebruary 7, 2021
Site Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Florida
Champions Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Pro Bowl
SiteVirtual (via Madden NFL 21 )

The 2020 NFL season was the 101st season of the National Football League (NFL). The regular season started with the NFL Kickoff Game on September 10, in which defending Super Bowl LIV champion Kansas City defeated Houston. The season concluded with Tampa Bay defeating Kansas City in Super Bowl LV at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, on February 7, 2021.

Contents

The Oakland Raiders relocated to Las Vegas for the 2020 season, and are now playing at Allegiant Stadium as the Las Vegas Raiders. After a decades-long controversy, the Washington Redskins retired the use of their name and logo and adopted the temporary name "Washington Football Team" for this season. [1] [2]

The season was impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic; the most prominent changes were the cancellation of all preseason games [3] and the 2021 Pro Bowl, [4] the suspension of international games for the year, [5] an allowance for players to opt out of playing the season without violating their contracts (66 players opted out), [6] the playing of games with either a greatly reduced audience or no fans at all, and the postponement and/or rescheduling of multiple games due to positive COVID-19 tests among players and staff. Despite the changes, all 256 regular season games were played within the original 17-week span with no cancellations. [7]

This was also the final season played under the 16 game-schedule, as the schedule was expanded to 17 games in 2021. [8]

Player movement

The 2020 NFL league year and trading period began on March 18. On March 16, teams were allowed to exercise options for 2020 on players with 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 2019 contracts and 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). On March 16, clubs were allowed to contact and begin contract negotiations with the agents of players who were set to become unrestricted free agents.

Positions key
C Center CB Cornerback DB Defensive back DE Defensive end
DL Defensive lineman DT Defensive tackle FB Fullback FS Free safety
G Guard HB Halfback K Placekicker KR Kick returner
LB Linebacker LS Long snapper OT Offensive tackle OL Offensive lineman
NT Nose tackle P Punter PR Punt returner QB Quarterback
RB Running back S Safety SS Strong safety TB Tailback
TE Tight end WR Wide receiver     

Free agency

Free agency began on March 18. Notable players to change teams included:

Trades

The following notable trades were made during the 2020 league year:

Notable retirements

The following notable players retired prior to the 2020 season:

Other retirements

Draft

The Draft took place on April 23–25, via videoconferencing; it was originally scheduled to take place in Paradise, Nevada, but was moved due to the COVID-19 pandemic. [59] On April 5, the NFL announced that the draft would be held virtually with coaches and GMs conducting it via phone and internet from home due to team facilities also being closed. [60] Goodell unveiled the first-round picks from his home in Bronxville, New York. [61] [62] Cincinnati, by virtue of having the worst record in 2019, held the first overall selection and selected QB Joe Burrow out of LSU. [63]

Opt-outs

The NFL and the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) agreed on July 24 to allow players to opt out of playing the season; 66 players opted out by the August 6 deadline. Players who opted out were not paid for the 2020 season, but received a salary advance of $150,000 taken from their 2021 salary. Players who opted out due to medical conditions received a $350,000 stipend which was not taken from their 2021 salary. [6] The following is a list of all players who opted out: [64]

Players who opted out
NamePositionTeam
Geronimo Allison WRDetroit
John Atkins DTDetroit
Sam Beal CBNew York Giants
Travis Benjamin WRSan Francisco
Andrew Billings DTCleveland
Russell Bodine CDetroit
Brandon Bolden RBNew England
Caleb Brantley DTWashington
Chandler Brewer OTLos Angeles Rams
Maurice Canady CBDallas
Marcus Cannon OTNew England
Patrick Chung SNew England
Shon Coleman OTSan Francisco
Josh Doctson WRNew York Jets
Drake Dorbeck OTCleveland
Laurent Duvernay-Tardif GKansas City
Ukeme Eligwe LBLas Vegas
Drew Forbes GCleveland
Devin Funchess WRGreen Bay
E. J. Gaines CBBuffalo
Marcus Gilbert OTArizona
Eddie Goldman DTChicago
Marquise Goodwin WRPhiladelphia
Colby Gossett GCleveland
Stephen Guidry WRDallas
Josh Harvey-Clemons LBWashington
Dont'a Hightower LBNew England
Allen Hurns WRMiami
Ja'Wuan James OTDenver
D. J. Killings CBLas Vegas
Leo Koloamatangi CNew York Jets
Matt LaCosse TENew England
Marqise Lee WRNew England
Star Lotulelei DTBuffalo
Jordan Lucas SChicago
Jordan Mack LBCarolina
Lerentee McCray LBJacksonville
Anthony McKinney OTTennessee
Rashaan Melvin CBJacksonville
Christian Miller LBCarolina
Rolan Milligan SIndianapolis
Skai Moore LBIndianapolis
C. J. Mosley LBNew York Jets
Lucas Niang OTKansas City
Jamize Olawale FBDallas
Kyle Peko DTDenver
Michael Pierce DTMinnesota
Malcolm Pridgeon GCleveland
Isaiah Prince OTCincinnati
Da'Mari Scott WRNew York Giants
Brad Seaton OTTampa Bay
Andre Smith OTBaltimore
Nate Solder OTNew York Giants
Marvell Tell CBIndianapolis
De'Anthony Thomas WRBaltimore
Najee Toran OTNew England
Josh Tupou OTCincinnati
Jeremiah Valoaga DELas Vegas
Eddie Vanderdoes DTHouston
Jason Vander Laan TENew Orleans
Danny Vitale FBNew England
Larry Warford GFree agent
Chance Warmack GSeattle
Cole Wick TENew Orleans
Damien Williams RBKansas City
Albert Wilson WRMiami
Al Woods DTJacksonville

Officiating changes

Referee Walt Anderson was promoted to NFL senior vice president in charge of the officiating training and development program, a newly created position that works independently from the league's head of officiating, Alberto Riveron. [65] Land Clark was promoted to referee to replace Anderson. Clark previously served as a referee in the Pac-12 Conference before joining the NFL in 2018 as a field judge. [66]

Former coach Perry Fewell was named NFL senior vice president of officiating administration. This position oversees the day-to-day operations of the officiating department and is the primary contact for coaches' and general managers' officiating questions, among other duties. [67]

The NFL and the NFL Referees Association agreed on August 9 to allow officials to opt out of working the 2020 season. Officials who opted out received a $30,000 stipend and guaranteed job protection for 2021. [68] Five on-field officials  line judge Jeff Bergman, back judge Steve Freeman, field judge Greg Gautreaux, field judge Joe Larrew, and back judge Tony Steratore   opted out for the season by the August 13 deadline. [69]

Rule changes

Permanent changes

The following rule changes for the 2020 season were approved at the NFL Owners' Meeting in May: [70]

Temporary rules for 2020 season

The following temporary rule changes were made on September 9 and were only in place for 2020: [73] The rule changes involving injured reserve and practice squad transactions remained in place for 2021. [74]

Jim Quirk Jr. (50744644342).jpg
Adrian Hill at WFT vs. Seahawks 2020 (50743800713).jpg
Side Judge Jim Quirk (left) wears a mask during a December game and referee Adrian Hill (right) removes his mask to announce a penalty in the same game.

2020 deaths

Members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame

Herb Adderley
Adderley, a cornerback, spent 12 years in the NFL with the Green Bay Packers and the Dallas Cowboys from 1960 to 1972. He was inducted into the Hall in 1980 and died on October 30, age 81.
Willie Davis
Davis, a defensive end, spent 12 years in the NFL with the Cleveland Browns and the Green Bay Packers from 1958 to 1969. He also served as a color commentator for NBC in the early 1970s and was inducted into the Hall in 1981. He also started All-Pro Broadcasting, which owns several stations in Los Angeles and Milwaukee. Davis died on April 15, age 85.
Fred Dean
Dean, a defensive end, spent 11 years with the San Diego Chargers and San Francisco 49ers from 1975 to 1985. He was inducted into the Hall in 2008 and died on October 14, age 68.
Chris Doleman
Doleman, a defensive end, spent 15 years in the NFL with the Minnesota Vikings, Atlanta Falcons, and San Francisco 49ers. He was inducted into the Hall in 2012 and died January 28, age 58.
Kevin Greene
Greene, a linebacker, played 15 years in the NFL, spending time with the Los Angeles Rams, Pittsburgh Steelers, Carolina Panthers, and San Francisco 49ers. He was inducted into the Hall in 2016 and died December 21, age 58.
Paul Hornung
Hornung, a running back and placekicker, played ten seasons with the Green Bay Packers, and was an inaugural member of the New Orleans Saints roster but never played due to injury. He was inducted into the Hall in 1986 and died November 13, age 84.
Floyd Little
Little, a former first-round pick and running back, spent his nine-season entire career with the Denver Broncos. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2010, and died on January 1, 2021, age 78. [76]
Bobby Mitchell
Mitchell, a halfback, spent 11 years in the NFL with the Cleveland Browns and Washington Redskins; he was the first black player on Washington's roster, ending owner George Preston Marshall's 30-year color barrier on the team. He served as an executive with the Redskins for decades after his playing career ended and was inducted into the Hall in 1983. Mitchell died on April 5, age 84.
Gale Sayers
Sayers, a running back, spent his entire seven-year career with the Chicago Bears. He was inducted into the Hall in 1977 at the age of 34, the youngest player ever inducted. He died September 23, age 77.
Don Shula
Shula was head coach of the Baltimore Colts and Miami Dolphins for a combined 33 years; he holds the record for both the most regular-season wins by a head coach in NFL history (328) and the most total wins including the playoffs (347). Shula was inducted into the Hall in 1997. He died May 4, age 90.
Willie Wood
Wood, a safety who spent his entire 12-year career with the Green Bay Packers, was inducted into the Hall in 1989. He died February 3, age 83.
Larry Wilson
Wilson spent 43 seasons in the NFL, all with the St. Louis, Phoenix and Arizona Cardinals, between 1960 and 2002: 13 as a player in which he appeared in eight Pro Bowls as a free safety, and 30 as a front office executive. Wilson, a member of the Hall's class of 1978, died September 17, age 82.

Others

Preseason

Training camps were held from late July through August. By league order, all training camps were held at teams' regular practice facilities. [77]

The Pro Football Hall of Fame Game was scheduled for August 6 between Dallas and Pittsburgh, but was canceled on June 25 due to the pandemic. [78] On July 3, the NFLPA voted to cancel the preseason, which was agreed to by the league later that month. [3] [79]

Regular season

The NFL released its regular-season schedule on May 7. [80] The season was played over a 17-week schedule beginning on September 10. Each of the league's 32 teams played 16 games, with one bye week for each team. The regular season concluded with a full slate of 16 games on January 3, 2021, all of which were intra-division matchups, as it had been since 2010.

The NFL suspended its international games for the season due to travel restrictions imposed because of the pandemic; the league had previously announced that Jacksonville would host two games at Wembley Stadium in London, Atlanta and Miami would each host a game at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, and Arizona would host a game at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City. These games were moved back to the teams' respective home stadiums. [5]

Using contingencies similar to those built into the 2011 schedule in the event that season's lockout lasted into September, the 2020 schedule allowed for the possibility that the season could be delayed and shortened in the event that conditions were unsafe to begin play as scheduled. Every game in Week 2 featured teams that share the same bye week later in the season, which would have allowed these games to be made up on the teams' original byes. Weeks 3 and 4 were set up so that there were no divisional games and that every team at home in Week 3 was away in Week 4 and vice versa. This would have allowed the NFL to cancel these two weeks without eliminating any divisional games and keeping each team's home and away games balanced. These scheduling changes, along with eliminating the week off before the Super Bowl and moving the Super Bowl back three weeks, would have allowed the NFL to play a 14-game schedule beginning October 29 while still playing the Super Bowl in February. [81] [82]

Scheduling formula

Under the NFL scheduling formula, each team played the other three teams in its own division twice. In addition, a team played against all four teams in one division from each conference. The remaining two games on a team's schedule were against the two remaining teams in the same conference that finished in the same position in their respective divisions the previous season (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 2020 are 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 West
AFC North vs NFC East
AFC South vs NFC North
AFC West vs NFC South

Highlights of the 2020 season included:

With the final round of the 2020 Masters Tournament (whose rights are held by CBS) rescheduled from its normal April date to November 15, CBS was not given any 1:00 p.m. ET games that day, which fell during Week 10. CBS was given three games in the 4:05 p.m. ET slot, while Fox was given eight Sunday games, including three AFC-away games which generally air on CBS. [88] [89]

Saturday flexible scheduling

When the entire season schedule was released on May 7, the league announced that in Weeks 15 and 16, two or three of five designated games would be moved to Saturday. A total of four games were broadcast by the NFL Network and one was broadcast by Amazon Prime Video. [90]

Week 15 [91]
On November 24, the NFL announced that two games would be moved to Saturday, December 19: BuffaloDenver at 4:30 p.m. ET and CarolinaGreen Bay at 8:15 p.m. ET. The three other games that the NFL had the option of scheduling on Saturday (DetroitTennessee, HoustonIndianapolis, and New York JetsLos Angeles Rams) remained on December 20.

Week 16 [92]
On November 30, the NFL announced that three games would be moved to Saturday, December 26: Tampa Bay–Detroit at 1:00 p.m ET, San FranciscoArizona at 4:30 p.m, and MiamiLas Vegas at 8:15 p.m. The San Francisco–Arizona game was assigned to Amazon. The two other games the NFL had the option of scheduling on Saturday (Cleveland–New York Jets and Denver–Los Angeles Chargers) remained on December 27.

In-season scheduling changes

Regular season standings

Division

Conference

AFC
#TeamDivisionWLTPCTDIVCONFSOSSOVSTK
Division leaders
1 Kansas City Chiefs West1420.8754–210–2.465.464L1
2 Buffalo Bills East1330.8136–010–2.512.471W6
3 Pittsburgh Steelers North1240.7504–29–3.475.448L1
4 [lower-alpha 1] Tennessee Titans South1150.6885–18–4.475.398W1
Wild Cards
5 [lower-alpha 2] [lower-alpha 3] Baltimore Ravens North1150.6884–27–5.494.401W5
6 [lower-alpha 3] [lower-alpha 4] Cleveland Browns North1150.6883–37–5.451.406W1
7 [lower-alpha 1] [lower-alpha 2] [lower-alpha 4] Indianapolis Colts South1150.6884–27–5.443.384W1
Did not qualify for the postseason
8 Miami Dolphins East1060.6253–37–5.467.347L1
9 Las Vegas Raiders West880.5004–26–6.539.477W1
10 [lower-alpha 5] New England Patriots East790.4383–36–6.527.429W1
11 [lower-alpha 5] Los Angeles Chargers West790.4383–36–6.482.344W4
12 Denver Broncos West5110.3131–54–8.566.388L3
13 Cincinnati Bengals North4111.2811–54–8.529.438L1
14 Houston Texans South4120.2502–43–9.541.219L5
15 New York Jets East2140.1250–61–11.594.656L1
16 Jacksonville Jaguars South1150.0631–51–11.549.688L15
Tiebreakers [lower-alpha 6]
  1. 1 2 Tennessee finished ahead of Indianapolis based on division record.
  2. 1 2 Baltimore finished ahead of Indianapolis based on head-to-head victory. Division tiebreaker used to eliminate Cleveland (see below).
  3. 1 2 Baltimore finished ahead of Cleveland based on head-to-head sweep.
  4. 1 2 Cleveland finished ahead of Indianapolis based on head-to-head victory.
  5. 1 2 New England finished ahead of the LA Chargers based on head-to-head victory.
  6. 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
#TeamDivisionWLTPCTDIVCONFSOSSOVSTK
Division leaders
1 Green Bay Packers North1330.8135–110–2.428.387W6
2 [lower-alpha 1] New Orleans Saints South1240.7506–010–2.459.406W2
3 [lower-alpha 1] Seattle Seahawks West1240.7504–29–3.447.404W4
4 Washington Football Team East790.4384–25–7.459.388W1
Wild cards
5 Tampa Bay Buccaneers South1150.6884–28–4.488.392W4
6 Los Angeles Rams West1060.6253–39–3.494.484W1
7 [lower-alpha 2] Chicago Bears North880.5002–46–6.488.336L1
Did not qualify for the postseason
8 [lower-alpha 2] Arizona Cardinals West880.5002–46–6.475.441L2
9 Minnesota Vikings North790.4384–25–7.504.366W1
10 [lower-alpha 3] San Francisco 49ers West6100.3753–34–8.549.448L1
11 [lower-alpha 3] [lower-alpha 4] New York Giants East6100.3754–25–7.502.427W1
12 [lower-alpha 4] Dallas Cowboys East6100.3752–45–7.471.333L1
13 [lower-alpha 5] Carolina Panthers South5110.3131–54–8.531.388L1
14 [lower-alpha 5] Detroit Lions North5110.3131–54–8.508.350L4
15 Philadelphia Eagles East4111.2812–44–8.537.469L3
16 Atlanta Falcons South4120.2501–52–10.551.391L5
Tiebreakers [lower-alpha 6]
  1. 1 2 New Orleans finished ahead of Seattle based on conference record.
  2. 1 2 Chicago finished and clinched the 7th and final playoff spot ahead of Arizona based on better win percentage in common games (against Detroit, the NY Giants, Carolina, and the LA Rams, Chicago finished 3–2, while Arizona finished 1–4).
  3. 1 2 San Francisco finished ahead of the NY Giants based on head-to-head victory. Division tie break was initially used to eliminate Dallas (see below).
  4. 1 2 NY Giants won tiebreaker over Dallas based on division record.
  5. 1 2 Carolina finished ahead of Detroit based on head-to-head victory.
  6. 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.

Postseason

The 2020 playoffs began on the weekend of January 9–10, 2021 with the Wild Card Round. Under the new NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), the playoffs expanded to 14 teams. There were three Wild Card teams per conference and only the top seed in each conference received a first-round bye. Three games were played each day. [109]

In the Divisional Round on January 16–17, the top seed in the conference hosted the worst remaining seed, and the other two remaining teams played each other, with the better seed hosting. The winners of those games advanced to the Conference Championships on for January 24. Super Bowl LV was held February 7 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.

In case a COVID-19 outbreak forces the postponements of playoff games, the bye week after the Conference Championships could have been eliminated and the Super Bowl could have been moved back as far as February 28. [81]

The 2021 Pro Bowl was originally scheduled for January 31 at Allegiant Stadium in Paradise, Nevada. However, on October 14, the game was canceled due to COVID-19 concerns. Pro Bowl rosters for the 2020 season were released on December 21, and the league plans to hold a virtual event to honor the players chosen. Players selected were used in a broadcast playthrough in the video game Madden NFL 21 instead. [110] This marked the first time since the 1949 season in which a Pro Bowl is not held. [4]

Bracket

Jan. 10 – Nissan Stadium Jan. 16 – Bills Stadium
5 Baltimore 20
4 Tennessee 13
5Baltimore3
Jan. 24 – Arrowhead Stadium
Jan. 9 – Bills Stadium 2Buffalo17
AFC
7 Indianapolis 242Buffalo24
Jan. 17 – Arrowhead Stadium
2 Buffalo 271Kansas City38
AFC Championship
Jan. 10 – Heinz Field 6Cleveland17
1 Kansas City 22
6 Cleveland 48
Divisional playoffsFeb. 7 – Raymond James Stadium
3 Pittsburgh 37
Wild Card playoffs
A1Kansas City9
Jan. 9 – FedExField Jan. 17 – Mercedes-Benz SuperdomeN5Tampa Bay31
Super Bowl LV
5 Tampa Bay 31
4 Washington 23
5Tampa Bay30
Jan. 24 – Lambeau Field
Jan. 10 – Mercedes-Benz Superdome 2New Orleans20
NFC
7 Chicago 95Tampa Bay31
Jan. 16 – Lambeau Field
2 New Orleans 211Green Bay26
NFC Championship
Jan. 9 – Lumen Field 6LA Rams18
1 Green Bay 32
6 LA Rams 30
3 Seattle 20


Notable events

New Collective Bargaining Agreement

In March 2020, the NFL and the NFLPA agreed to a new CBA that will run through 2030. [111] The previous CBA, signed in 2011, would have expired after this season. [112]

Major changes in the new CBA include: [113]

Washington Redskins' name change

On July 1, following renewed attention to racial justice in wake of the George Floyd protests, a letter signed by 87 shareholders and investors was sent to sponsors of the then-Washington Redskins and NFL including Nike, FedEx, and Pepsi urging them to cut ties unless the team name was changed. [118] Around the same time, several retail companies began to remove Redskins merchandise from their stores. [119] [120] In response, the team underwent a review of its name and logo. On July 23, the team announced that it would retire its name and logo. [1] The team began playing as the "Washington Football Team" pending a permanent name being chosen. [2]

Shooting of Jacob Blake

In response to the shooting of Jacob Blake, Detroit canceled its scheduled practice on August 25. [121] Nine other teams canceled their scheduled practices on August 27. [122] Several teams that did not cancel practice issued statements about unity. The Jacksonville Jaguars canceled their scheduled afternoon activities. [123]

COVID-19 outbreaks

Russell Wilson wearing a mask, as part of COVID-19 precautions. Russell Wilson with mask.jpg
Russell Wilson wearing a mask, as part of COVID-19 precautions.

Records, milestones, and notable statistics

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

Week 5

Week 6

Week 7

Week 9

Week 10

Week 12

Week 13

Week 14

Week 15

Week 16

Week 17

Wild Card Round

Divisional Round

Super Bowl LV

Regular-season statistical leaders

Individual [196]
Scoring leader Younghoe Koo Atlanta 144
Daniel Carlson Las Vegas
Jason Sanders Miami
Most Field Goals Made Younghoe Koo Atlanta37
Touchdowns Alvin Kamara New Orleans 21
Rushing Derrick Henry Tennessee 2,027
Passing yards Deshaun Watson Houston 4,823
Passing touchdowns Aaron Rodgers Green Bay 48
Passer rating121.5
Pass receptions Stefon Diggs Buffalo 127
Pass receiving yards1,535
Combined tackles Zach Cunningham Houston164
Interceptions Xavien Howard Miami10
Punting Braden Mann New York Jets 3,598; avg 43.9
Sacks T. J. Watt Pittsburgh 15

Awards

Individual season awards

The 10th Annual NFL Honors, honoring the best players and plays from the 2020 season, was held on February 6, 2021, at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California.

AwardWinnerPositionTeam
AP Most Valuable Player Aaron Rodgers QB Green Bay
AP Offensive Player of the Year Derrick Henry RB Tennessee
AP Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald DT Los Angeles Rams
AP Coach of the Year Kevin Stefanski HC Cleveland
AP Assistant Coach of the Year Brian Daboll OC Buffalo
AP Offensive Rookie of the Year Justin Herbert QB Los Angeles Chargers
AP Defensive Rookie of the Year Chase Young DE Washington
AP Comeback Player of the Year Alex Smith QB Washington
Pepsi Rookie of the Year Justin Herbert QB Los Angeles Chargers
Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Russell Wilson QB Seattle
PFWA NFL Executive of the Year Brandon Beane GM Buffalo
Super Bowl Most Valuable Player Tom Brady QB Tampa Bay

All-Pro team

The following players were named First Team All-Pro by the Associated Press:

Offense
QB Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay
RB Derrick Henry, Tennessee
WR Davante Adams, Green Bay
Stefon Diggs, Buffalo
Tyreek Hill, Kansas City
TE Travis Kelce, Kansas City
LT David Bakhtiari, Green Bay
LG Quenton Nelson, Indianapolis
C Corey Linsley, Green Bay
RG Brandon Scherff, Washington
RT Jack Conklin, Cleveland
Defense
DE T. J. Watt, Pittsburgh
Myles Garrett, Cleveland
DT Aaron Donald, Los Angeles Rams
DeForest Buckner, Indianapolis
LB Fred Warner, San Francisco
Bobby Wagner, Seattle
Darius Leonard, Indianapolis
CB Xavien Howard, Miami
Jalen Ramsey, Los Angeles Rams
S Tyrann Mathieu, Kansas City
Minkah Fitzpatrick, Pittsburgh
Budda Baker, Arizona
Special teams
K Jason Sanders, Miami
P Jake Bailey, New England
KR Cordarrelle Patterson, Chicago
PR Gunner Olszewski, New England
ST George Odum, Indianapolis
LS Morgan Cox, Baltimore

Players of the week/month

The following were named the top performers during the 2020 season:

Week/
Month
Offensive
Player of the Week/Month
Defensive
Player of the Week/Month
Special Teams
Player of the Week/Month
AFCNFCAFCNFCAFCNFC
1 [197] Lamar Jackson QB
(Baltimore)
Russell Wilson QB
(Seattle)
Casey Hayward CB
(Los Angeles Chargers)
Ryan Kerrigan DE
(Washington)
Daniel Carlson K
(Las Vegas)
Thomas Morstead P
(New Orleans)
2 [198] Josh Allen QB
(Buffalo)
Dak Prescott QB
(Dallas)
T. J. Watt LB
(Pittsburgh)
Micah Kiser LB
(Los Angeles Rams)
Harrison Butker K
(Kansas City)
Michael Dickson P
(Seattle)
3 [199] Patrick Mahomes QB
(Kansas City)
Russell Wilson QB
(Seattle)
Xavier Rhodes CB
(Indianapolis)
Shaquil Barrett LB
(Tampa Bay)
Stephen Gostkowski K
(Tennessee)
Matt Prater K
(Detroit)
Sept. [200] Josh Allen QB
(Buffalo)
Russell Wilson QB
(Seattle)
T. J. Watt LB
(Pittsburgh)
Lavonte David LB
(Tampa Bay)
Stephen Gostkowski K
(Tennessee)
Jack Fox P
(Detroit)
4 [201] Joe Mixon RB
(Cincinnati)
Tom Brady QB
(Tampa Bay)
Myles Garrett DE
(Cleveland)
Za'Darius Smith LB
(Green Bay)
Brandon McManus K
(Denver)
Mike Boone RB
(Minnesota)
5 [202] Chase Claypool WR
(Pittsburgh)
Kyler Murray QB
(Arizona)
Patrick Queen LB
(Baltimore)
Aaron Donald DT
(Los Angeles Rams)
Jason Sanders K
(Miami)
Wil Lutz K
(New Orleans)
6 [203] Derrick Henry RB
(Tennessee)
Matt Ryan QB
(Atlanta)
Calais Campbell DE
(Baltimore)
Budda Baker S
(Arizona)
Brandon McManus K
(Denver)
Cairo Santos K
(Chicago)
7 [204] Baker Mayfield QB
(Cleveland)
Kyler Murray QB
(Arizona)
Jerry Hughes DE
(Buffalo)
Devin White LB
(Tampa Bay)
Byron Pringle WR/KR
(Kansas City)
Johnny Hekker P
(Los Angeles Rams)
Oct. [205] Derrick Henry RB
(Tennessee)
Tom Brady QB
(Tampa Bay)
Myles Garrett DE
(Cleveland)
Budda Baker S
(Arizona)
Jason Sanders K
(Miami)
Johnny Hekker P
(Los Angeles Rams)
8 [206] Patrick Mahomes QB
(Kansas City)
Dalvin Cook RB
(Minnesota)
Stephon Tuitt DE
(Pittsburgh)
Bobby Wagner LB
(Seattle)
Jakeem Grant WR/KR
(Miami)
Ryan Succop K
(Tampa Bay)
9 [207] Josh Allen QB
(Buffalo)
Dalvin Cook RB
(Minnesota)
Jeffery Simmons DE
(Tennessee)
Foyesade Oluokun LB
(Atlanta)
Nick Folk K
(New England)
Graham Gano K
(New York Giants)
10 [208] Ben Roethlisberger QB
(Pittsburgh)
DeAndre Hopkins WR
(Arizona)
Jeff Heath S
(Las Vegas)
Leonard Floyd LB
(Los Angeles Rams)
E. J. Speed LB
(Indianapolis)
Matt Prater K
(Detroit)
11 [209] Deshaun Watson QB
(Houston)
Robert Woods WR
(Los Angeles Rams)
Olivier Vernon DE
(Cleveland)
Brian Burns DE
(Carolina)
Rodrigo Blankenship K
(Indianapolis)
Tress Way P
(Washington)
12 [210] Tyreek Hill WR
(Kansas City)
Kirk Cousins QB
(Minnesota)
A. J. Klein LB
(Buffalo)
Jacob Tuioti-Mariner DT
(Atlanta)
Nick Folk K
(New England)
Robbie Gould K
(San Francisco)
Nov. [211] Patrick Mahomes QB
(Kansas City)
Dalvin Cook RB
(Minnesota)
T. J. Watt LB
(Pittsburgh)
Cameron Jordan DE
(New Orleans)
Jason Sanders K
(Miami)
Younghoe Koo K
(Atlanta)
13 [212] Josh Allen QB
(Buffalo)
Aaron Rodgers QB
(Green Bay)
Kyle Van Noy LB
(Miami)
Leonard Williams DE
(New York Giants)
Gunner Olszewski WR/PR
(New England)
Dustin Hopkins K
(Washington)
14 [213] Lamar Jackson QB
(Baltimore)
Cam Akers RB
(Los Angeles Rams)
Kenny Moore CB
(Indianapolis)
Haason Reddick LB
(Arizona)
Diontae Spencer WR/PR
(Denver)
Tress Way P
(Washington)
15 [214] Josh Allen QB
(Buffalo)
Kyler Murray QB
(Arizona)
DeForest Buckner DT
(Indianapolis)
Devin White LB
(Tampa Bay)
Tommy Townsend P
(Kansas City)
Michael Dickson P
(Seattle)
16 [215] Stefon Diggs WR
(Buffalo)
Alvin Kamara RB
(New Orleans)
Mike Hilton CB
(Pittsburgh)
Fred Warner LB
(San Francisco)
Jason Sanders K
(Miami)
Joseph Charlton P
(Carolina)
17 [216] Derrick Henry RB
(Tennessee)
Kirk Cousins QB
(Minnesota)
Darius Leonard LB
(Indianapolis)
Leonard Williams DE
(New York Giants)
Maxx Crosby DE
(Las Vegas)
Ryan Succop K
(Tampa Bay)
Dec./Jan. [217] Josh Allen QB
(Buffalo)
Aaron Rodgers QB
(Green Bay)
DeForest Buckner DT
(Indianapolis)
Chase Young DE
(Washington)
Daniel Carlson K
(Las Vegas)
Cairo Santos K
(Chicago)
WeekFedEx Air
Player of the Week
(Quarterbacks) [218]
FedEx Ground
Player of the Week
(Running backs) [218]
Pepsi Zero Sugar
Rookie of the Week [219]
1 Russell Wilson
(Seattle)
Clyde Edwards-Helaire
(Kansas City)
C. J. Henderson CB
(Jacksonville)
2 Josh Allen
(Buffalo)
Aaron Jones
(Green Bay)
Justin Herbert QB
(Los Angeles Chargers)
3Russell Wilson
(Seattle)
Dalvin Cook
(Minnesota)
Brandon Aiyuk WR
(San Francisco)
4 Tom Brady
(Tampa Bay)
Joe Mixon
(Cincinnati)
Justin Herbert QB
(Los Angeles Chargers)
5 Derek Carr
(Las Vegas)
Todd Gurley
(Atlanta)
Justin Herbert QB
(Los Angeles Chargers)
6 Ryan Tannehill
(Tennessee)
Derrick Henry
(Tennessee)
Justin Jefferson WR
(Minnesota)
7 Joe Burrow
(Cincinnati)
Jeff Wilson
(San Francisco)
Justin Herbert QB
(Los Angeles Chargers)
8 Patrick Mahomes
(Kansas City)
Dalvin Cook
(Minnesota)
Justin Herbert QB
(Los Angeles Chargers)
9Josh Allen
(Buffalo)
Dalvin Cook
(Minnesota)
Justin Herbert QB
(Los Angeles Chargers)
10 Ben Roethlisberger
(Pittsburgh)
Ronald Jones II
(Tampa Bay)
Jedrick Wills OT
(Cleveland)
11Justin Herbert
(Los Angeles Chargers)
Derrick Henry
(Tennessee)
Justin Herbert QB
(Los Angeles Chargers)
12Patrick Mahomes
(Kansas City)
Derrick Henry
(Tennessee)
Antonio Gibson RB
(Washington)
13 Baker Mayfield
(Cleveland)
Aaron Jones
(Green Bay)
Tua Tagovailoa QB
(Miami)
14 Drew Lock
(Denver)
Derrick Henry
(Tennessee)
Tua Tagovailoa QB
(Miami)
15Josh Allen
(Buffalo)
Derrick Henry
(Tennessee)
Justin Herbert QB
(Los Angeles Chargers)
16 Brandon Allen
(Cincinnati)
Alvin Kamara
(New Orleans)
A. J. Dillon RB
(Green Bay)
17Tom Brady
(Tampa Bay)
Jonathan Taylor
(Indianapolis)
Justin Herbert QB
(Los Angeles Chargers)
MonthRookie of the Month
OffensiveDefensive
Sept. [200] James Robinson RB
(Jacksonville)
Antoine Winfield Jr. S
(Tampa Bay)
Oct. [205] Justin Herbert QB
(Los Angeles Chargers)
Jeremy Chinn S
(Carolina)
Nov. [211] Justin Herbert QB
(Los Angeles Chargers)
Jeremy Chinn S
(Carolina)
Dec. [217] Jonathan Taylor RB
(Indianapolis)
Chase Young DE
(Washington)

Head coaching and front office personnel changes

Head coaches

Off-season

TeamDeparting coachInterim coachIncoming coachReason for leavingNotes
Carolina Panthers Ron Rivera Perry Fewell Matt Rhule FiredRivera was fired on December 3, 2019, after going 5–7 (.417) in the first 12 games of the season. In 8+ seasons as the Panthers head coach, he went 79–67–1 (.541), with four playoff appearances including three NFC South division titles and one Super Bowl appearance.

Fewell, the defensive backs coach, took over on an interim basis and went 0–4 the rest of the season. [220]

Rhule, who spent the previous seven seasons as college football head coach of Temple and Baylor with a 47–43 (.522) record, was hired on January 7. [221] [222]

Cleveland Browns Freddie Kitchens Kevin Stefanski Kitchens was fired on December 29, 2019, after going 6–10 (.375) in one season as head coach. [223]

Stefanski, who previously served as the offensive coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings, was hired on January 13. He was on the Vikings staff for 14 years. [224] This is his first head coaching position at any level.

Dallas Cowboys Jason Garrett Mike McCarthy Contract expiredOn January 5, the Cowboys announced they would not renew Garrett's contract, which expired January 14. The Cowboys were 85–67 (.559) in 912 seasons under Garrett, making the playoffs 3 times but never advancing past the divisional round. [225]

McCarthy was hired as the Cowboys' new coach on January 6. In 12+ seasons as the Green Bay Packers head coach, he had a record of 135–85–2 (.613) with nine playoff appearances and one Super Bowl title. [226] [227]

New York Giants Pat Shurmur Joe Judge FiredShurmur was fired on December 30, 2019, after going 9–23 (.281) in two seasons as the Giants' head coach, with no playoff appearances. [228]

Judge was hired on January 8, after serving as the special teams coordinator for the New England Patriots from 2015 to 2019, as well as the wide receivers coach in 2019. This is his first head coaching position at any level. [229] [230]

Washington Football Team Jay Gruden Bill Callahan Ron Rivera After an 0–5 start, Gruden was fired on October 7, 2019. He had a 35–49–1 (.418) record for his 5+ season tenure with the organization, with one playoff appearance. [231]

Callahan, the team's assistant head coach/offensive line coach, was previously the head coach of the Oakland Raiders in 2002 and 2003, with a record of 15–17 (.469) and one Super Bowl appearance; he finished out the 2019 season with a 3–8 (.273) record. [232]

Rivera, who had spent most of the previous nine seasons as head coach of the Carolina Panthers, was hired on January 1, 2020. [233]

In-season

TeamDeparting coachReason for leavingInterim replacementNotes
Houston Texans Bill O'Brien Fired Romeo Crennel After an 0–4 start, O'Brien was fired on October 5. He had a 52–48 (.520) record during his 6+ season tenure with the Texans, with four AFC South titles. [234]

Crennel, the team's associate head coach, was previously the head coach of the Cleveland Browns and Kansas City Chiefs, with a combined record of 28–55 (.337) and no playoff appearances. At age 73, he is the oldest head coach in NFL history. [153]

Atlanta Falcons Dan Quinn Raheem Morris After an 0–5 start, Quinn was fired on October 11. He had a 43–42 (.506) record during his 5+ season tenure with the Falcons, with two playoff appearances and one Super Bowl appearance. [235]

Morris, the team's defensive coordinator, was previously the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, with a record of 17–31 (.354) and no playoff appearances. [236]

Detroit Lions Matt Patricia Darrell Bevell Patricia was fired on November 28. He had a 13–29–1 (.314) record during his 2+ season tenure with the Lions, with no playoff appearances. [237]

Bevell, the team's offensive coordinator, was promoted to interim head coach. This is his first head coaching position. [237]

Front office personnel

Off-season

TeamPositionDeparting office holderIncoming office holderReason for leavingNotes
Cleveland Browns GM John Dorsey Andrew Berry Mutual decisionDorsey and the Browns parted ways on December 31, 2019, after three seasons. [238] Berry was hired on January 28, 2020 as general manager and executive vice president of football operations. He served as the Philadelphia Eagles' vice president of football operations in 2019, and had worked for the Browns from 2016 to 2018 as vice president of player personnel. At age 32, he is the youngest general manager in NFL history. [239]
Jacksonville Jaguars EVP-FO Tom Coughlin Position eliminatedFiredCoughlin was fired on December 18, 2019, after three seasons with the Jaguars. [240] The team announced after the season that Coughlin's position will not be filled. [241]
Washington Football Team President Bruce Allen Jason Wright Allen was fired December 30, 2019, after ten years with the team. [242] Wright, a former NFL running back who later served as a partner at the management consulting firm McKinsey & Company, was hired on August 17, 2020. He is the first black team president in NFL history. [243]

In-season

TeamPosition2020 office holderReason for leavingInterim replacementNotes
Houston Texans GM Bill O'Brien Fired Jack Easterby O'Brien was named general manager of the team during the 2020 offseason, after splitting general manager duties with Easterby, the executive vice president of football operations, and other team executives in 2019. His tenure was lowlighted by trading away star WR Deandre Hopkins. [234]

Easterby took over GM duties for the rest of the season. [244]

Atlanta Falcons Thomas Dimitroff NoneAfter an 0–5 start, Dimitroff was fired on October 11 after 12 seasons. [235]
Detroit Lions Bob Quinn Quinn was fired on November 28 after 5 seasons. [237] A combination of front office personnel handled GM duties for the remainder of the season.[ citation needed ]
Jacksonville Jaguars David Caldwell Trent Baalke Caldwell was fired on November 29 after 8 seasons. [245]

Baalke, the team's director of player personnel, would serve as interim GM through the end of the season. [245]

Carolina Panthers Marty Hurney NoneHurney was fired on December 21 after 14+ seasons in two stints (2002–12, 2017–20). In his time with the Panthers he was responsible for drafting star players such as Cam Newton, Luke Kuechly, and Thomas Davis. [246]

Stadiums

Stadium changes

COVID-19 restrictions

Washington fans in November 2020 Washington Football Team fans 2020-11-08.jpg
Washington fans in November 2020
MetLife Stadium without fans in October 2020 Washington Football Team entering empty MetLife Stadium.jpg
MetLife Stadium without fans in October 2020

The NFL allowed teams to admit spectators to games if allowed under local health orders. A total of 19 teams admitted spectators at a reduced capacity for at least one regular season home game. Two additional teams which did not admit spectators during the regular season admitted spectators for postseason games. Six teams allowed spectators for all home games. The majority of teams played without spectators through September and into October while admitting spectators later in the season. [252] [253] Commissioner Roger Goodell and the league's competition committee assessed that having spectators did not create a competitive advantage despite some coaches and executives disagreeing. [254]

If spectators were admitted, they had to wear face masks and, in some stadiums, were required to sign a liability waiver. [255] On-field entertainment was prohibited, including cheerleaders, mascots, marching bands, flag wavers, and end zone-to-end zone American flag displays. [256] To reduce the proximity of spectators to the field, the league required the first six to eight rows of seats to be blocked with tarps. [257] Halftime shows could be held, but only off-site, or as done on Thanksgiving, pre-recorded before the game. [258]

On May 13, California officials indicated that they might not allow the Los Angeles Chargers, Los Angeles Rams or San Francisco 49ers to play at their home stadiums. Las Vegas' Allegiant Stadium and Arizona's State Farm Stadium were listed as possible relocation sites for these teams. [259] [260] All three teams were ultimately allowed to begin the season at their home stadiums without spectators; however, the 49ers were forced to move their final three home games to State Farm Stadium after Santa Clara County, where the 49ers' home stadium is located, banned all contact sports in response to a local rise of COVID-19 cases. [261] [262]

The NFL initially mandated the use of artificial crowd noise inside all stadiums with attendance below 10,000, consisting of non-dynamic ambience played at 70 decibels. [263] The audio was monitored by the league and teams were subject to sanctions if they were found to have manipulated it (such as by changing its volume). [264] [265] [266] On September 25, these rules were adjusted, allowing the ambiance to be played at up to 80 decibels. The volume must be determined before the game and remain consistent through the entire game. The minimum attendance required to turn off the crowd noise was reduced to 2,500. [267] As part of Microsoft's sponsorship of the NFL, a "Fan Mosaic" feature powered by Microsoft Teams was featured on stadium video boards during select games. [268]

TeamHome games with spectators allowedLimitationsSource
Arizona2Played its first three home games behind closed doors; admitted up to 1,200 fans for next two games; played its last three regular season home games behind closed doors. [269] [252] [270] [271]
Atlanta6Played its Week 1 home opener behind closed doors and hosted 500 family members and associates in Week 3 in order to determine the capacity limit for the team's remaining games. Allowed up to 10,000 spectators for each additional home game. [272]
Baltimore1Played its first three home games behind closed doors; allowed up to 3,000 spectators during Week 8. Spectators were again prohibited from attending games starting Week 11. [273] [274]
Buffalo0* New York state health orders prohibited spectators at sporting events during the regular season. Local officials recommended a 10% capacity, up to 7,000 fans; Governor of New York Andrew Cuomo indicated initial willingness to approve the plan if social distancing is upheld but eventually ruled out spectators after a rise in cases. After Buffalo clinched a home playoff game and cases began to subside, Cuomo gave approval for Buffalo to host 6,772 fans in its two home playoff games, with social distancing measures in place, pre-game rapid antigen testing mandatory at spectator expense, and no repeat attendees. [275] [276] [277] [278]
Carolina7Played behind closed doors for its home opener; admitted up to 5,240 spectators (7% capacity) for the remainder of the season. [279]
Chicago0 [255] [280]
Cincinnati7Played without spectators in its home opener, then admitted up to 6,000 spectators for its next home game and 12,000 for each remaining home game. [281]
Cleveland8Admitted 6,000 spectators for its first two home games and 12,000 for each remaining home game. [281]
Dallas8Allowed up to 20,000 fans—25% of AT&T Stadium's seating capacity. [282]
Denver4Played with a limited crowd of 500 family members and associates during its home opener. The team allowed up to 5,700 spectators (7.5% of Empower Field at Mile High's seating capacity) for the next four home games, but reverted to playing without spectators for the final three home games due to a rise in COVID-19 cases in Colorado. [283] [284] [285]
Detroit0 [255] [253]
Green Bay0*Played behind closed doors the entire regular season. Allowed 9,000 spectators for its two home playoff games. [286] [287]
Houston7Played behind closed doors for its Week 2 home opener; allowed up to 13,300 spectators (20% capacity) for remaining home games. [288]
Indianapolis8Allowed 2,500 spectators for its home opener. Allowed spectators at 15% capacity for remaining home games. [255] [289] [290]
Jacksonville8Allowed spectators at 25% capacity. [255] [252]
Kansas City8*Allowed spectators at 22% capacity. [291] [252]
Las Vegas0Las Vegas was the only team to rule out spectators for the entire season before the season started. [292]
Los Angeles Chargers0 [293]
Los Angeles Rams
Miami8The team admitted 13,000 spectators for each home game. On October 7, Governor of Florida Ron DeSantis gave clearance to allow full attendance in stadiums; however, the Dolphins chose to maintain the 13,000 fan limit. [255] [294] [295]
Minnesota0Played behind closed doors for the entire season, though the team admitted a limited number of family members and team staff beginning in Week 3. [296] [297]
New England0 [298] [299]
New Orleans5*Played behind closed doors for its first three home games. Louisiana gave approval for the Saints to have fans in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome starting with Week 3; however, the city denied the Saints permission to have fans for its next two games. The Saints were allowed to have up to 3,000 fans beginning in Week 7. This was increased to 6,000 for Weeks 10 and 11 but reverted to 3,000 for the rest of the season. [255] [300] [301]
New York Giants0 MetLife Stadium prohibited spectators at sporting events per an executive order from Governor of New Jersey Phil Murphy. [255] [253]
New York Jets
Philadelphia3Played its first two home games behind closed doors. The team allowed 7,500 fans beginning with Week 6 for the following three home games. Beginning in Week 12, games were played without spectators again after the city of Philadelphia imposed restrictions on crowd sizes on November 16. [255] [302] [303]
Pittsburgh3Played its first two home games behind closed doors; Allowed up to 5,500 fans from Weeks 5-10. Beginning in Week 12 (originally Week 13), games were played without spectators again as the state of Pennsylvania passed new restrictions on large gatherings. The state authorized up to 2,500 people (including players, in-game staff, and spectators) for playoff games, but due to this limitation the team announced on January 7 that attendance would be limited to family and associates only. [253] [304] [305] [306] [307]
San Francisco0Played behind closed doors for the entire season. On November 28, Santa Clara County banned all contact sports, including 49ers practices and games, in the county, forcing the relocation of the team's final three home games to State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, which were also played without spectators. [253] [308]
Seattle0 [309]
Tampa Bay7*Played its Week 2 home opener behind closed doors. For Week 4, only season-ticket holders who had season tickets since 1998 or earlier were allowed to attend. Beginning in Week 6, spectator capacity was limited to 25%. For Super Bowl LV, the stadium had a 34% capacity (25,000 spectators), with 7,500 tickets reserved for vaccinated health care workers. [310] [253] [311]
Tennessee7*Played behind closed doors for its home opener, then allowed a limited amount of spectators — between 10 and 15% capacity — for its remaining home games. [312]
Washington1Played the first four home games behind closed doors, then allowed up to 3,000 season ticket holders to attend its Week 9 game. Spectators were again prohibited from attending games starting Week 11. [313] [253] [314]
* The team admitted spectators to its home playoff game(s).

Uniforms

Uniform changes

Eight teams unveiled uniform changes, ranging from minor adjustments to full rebrands.

Patches

Media

Broadcast rights

Television

This was the seventh year under the current broadcast contracts with CBS, ESPN, 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 continues to air Sunday Night Football and the Kickoff Game. ESPN continued to air Monday Night Football and a Wild Card Game, with 3 MNF and the Wild Card games being simulcast on ABC. ESPN and ABC were also scheduled to air the 2021 Pro Bowl, but the game was canceled. Fox continues to air Thursday Night Football alongside NFL Network, Amazon Prime Video and Twitch. [332] CBS and NBC acquired rights to the two new Wild Card Round games, with each paying around $70 million for the additional game. [333] [334]

CBS televised Super Bowl LV. NBC was originally scheduled to broadcast the game under the current rotation. However, NBC traded the game to CBS in exchange for Super Bowl LVI, which will fall during the 2022 Winter Olympics, the first to be scheduled during an ongoing Olympic Games (NBC also holds the U.S. broadcast rights to the Olympics). [335]

To coincide with the 50th anniversary of Monday Night Football, ESPN simulcast the Week 2 New OrleansLas Vegas game as an ESPN Megacast on ABC, marking ABC's first regular season broadcast since 2005. ESPN2 aired an alternate broadcast with various guests joining throughout the game. [336] [337] Two more MNF games were simulcast on ABC on December 7 and 28. [338]

As of the 2019 season, local stations in markets with NFL teams have been allowed on to air another NFL game opposite the game involving that city's home team on a limited basis. Cities were initially limited to two such games per season. This was expanded to four in 2020. [339]

Prior to this season, the league had the option to cancel DirecTV's exclusive contract to air NFL Sunday Ticket, the league's out-of-market sports package. [340] However, the NFL did not opt out. [341]

In the United Kingdom, Sky Sports renewed its broadcast rights to the NFL under a five-year deal, marking its 25th season of coverage. It also announced that it would devote its multiplex channel Sky Sports Action exclusively to NFL programming and coverage during the season, temporarily rebranding it as Sky Sports NFL. It marks the first time that the NFL has partnered on a league-oriented channel in an international market. [342] [343] ViacomCBS-owned free-to-air channel Channel 5 also acquired rights to air Monday Night Football, marking the league's return to the network for the first time since 2009, with a Los Angeles-based studio show featuring Maurice Jones-Drew, and a weekly magazine show, NFL End Zone, hosted by Cori Yarckin. [344]

Digital

On April 29, Amazon renewed its digital rights to Thursday Night Football through the 2022 season, maintaining the existing arrangement to simulcast the 11 games aired by Fox on Amazon Prime Video and for free on Twitch, and offer alternative broadcasts of the games on the two services. It also added exclusive worldwide rights to one late-season game per-season, which was produced by CBS and simulcast on over-the-air stations in the two teams' home markets. [332] Amazon also acquired rights to simulcast one NFC Wild Card game assigned to CBS. [345]

This season, the TNF games included a new "Scout's Feed" broadcast featuring extended play analysis by Bucky Brooks and Daniel Jeremiah, and a new "NFL Next Live" feed on Twitch hosted by Cari Champion and Andrew Hawkins which featured viewer interactivity. The British English broadcasts were dropped this season. For supplemental content, Amazon is expanding its Tuesday-night studio program NFL Next, and introducing two new interactive programs on Twitch — the Hawkins and Kyle Long-hosted NFL Comment Box, and the Chad Johnson and Kyle Long-hosted The NFL Machine, which features presentations of content from the NFL Films archives. [346]

Personnel

Tony Romo, CBS' lead color commentator, renewed his contract in a long-term, $17 million per-year deal, the most lucrative contract for a commentator in NFL history. [347]

CBS parted ways with #2 commentator Dan Fouts and replaced him with Fox's #2 commentator Charles Davis. [348] Fox utilized Daryl Johnston in this spot. [349]

To reduce his workload and travel, NBC Sunday Night Football lead commentator Al Michaels took several games off in favor of Mike Tirico. [266] [350]

ESPN replaced its former Monday Night Football commentator team of Joe Tessitore and Booger McFarland with Steve Levy, Brian Griese, and Louis Riddick. [351] [352] Levy and Griese had been a broadcast team for ESPN's college football coverage prior to their Monday Night Football assignment, Levy also served as ESPN's lead XFL play-by-play voice. Fellow college football announcing duo Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit called the first game of the Week 1 MNF doubleheader. [352] Herbstreit also worked the ESPN2 Monday Night Megacast broadcast with Rece Davis during the Week 2 MNF game.

After using a homophobic slur during a Cincinnati Reds game, Thom Brennaman was removed from Fox's NFL broadcasts for 2020. [353] Brennaman, who also worked for the Reds, was suspended from doing games "until further notice". He later resigned from that role. [354] Kevin Kugler replaced Brennaman. [355]

This was the final season for Chris Spielman at Fox. Before Week 14, he left Fox to take a front office position with the Detroit Lions, effective immediately. #6 Brock Huard, who was a new addition to Fox's Sunday commentator roster, would move up to the #5 slot with Kevin Kugler to replace Spielman.

This was also the final season for long-time announcer Dick Stockton, who announced his retirement on March 25, 2021. Stockton, whose broadcasting resume spanned over five decades, called NFL games for CBS and Fox during his career. [356]

Impact of COVID-19 on production

Broadcasters were limited to 46 staff members at each game. Sideline reporters were not allowed on the field. [256] CBS, [357] Fox, and NBC had commentators on-site, [266] but some production was conducted remotely from the networks' headquarters. [266] [357] The NFL required personnel returning from outside of the United States to quarantine for 14 days before returning to work.

The league provided an enhanced artificial crowd noise track to be used by its broadcasters, separate from the crowd noise that is used at stadiums below 2,500 in attendance. The soundtrack uses crowd audio collected by NFL Films from past games involving the home team, including general ambience, team-specific chants, and contextual reactions. It is mixed by a local sound engineer at the stadium in synchronization with the game. [263] Fox had explored the possibility of masking empty stands with CGI crowds. [358] Fox introduced such a system on-air for its Major League Baseball broadcasts, [359] and later announced that it would use the technology for selected NFL games. [360] NBC ruled out virtual fans, citing the large number of camera angles that would have to be configured. NBC added a 180-degree 8K resolution camera to the Skycam unit for "intimate" overhead views, supplanting wide-angle shots that would expose stands with little to no spectators. [361] [362] At games played with no spectators, CBS allowed its Skycam to be in positions over the stands that are not generally allowed in order to provide new angles. [357]

The pandemic also affected pre-game shows: ESPN's Monday Night Countdown and NFL Network's NFL GameDay were broadcast from their respective networks' studios, rather than traveling to game sites. [363] Fox NFL Sunday panelist Jimmy Johnson contributed from his home in Florida, rather than join the rest of the panel at the Fox studio in Los Angeles. [364] As a precautionary measure, the normal panelists for Fox NFL Kickoff and Fox NFL Sunday did not appear in-studio for Week 11, with Chris Myers, Reggie Bush, and Charles Woodson replacing them, and the regular personnel appearing remotely. [365] [366]

Two commentators were unable to pass their network's COVID-19 protocols and each had to miss one game: Al Michaels for NBC in Week 15 and Tony Romo for CBS in Week 17. [367]

Most watched regular season games

RankDateMatchupNetworkViewers (millions)TV rating [368] WindowSignificance
1November 26, 4:30 ET Washington Football Team 41–16 Dallas Cowboys Fox 30.312.0 Thanksgiving Cowboys–Washington rivalry
2September 13, 4:25 ET Tampa Bay Buccaneers 23–34 New Orleans Saints 25.913.1Late DH [a] Buccaneers–Saints rivalry, Tom Brady's Buccaneers debut
3November 22, 4:25 ET Green Bay Packers 31–34 Indianapolis Colts 23.912.7Late DH [b]
4November 26, 12:30 ET Houston Texans 41–25 Detroit Lions CBS 23.410.6 Thanksgiving
5November 29, 4:25 ET Kansas City Chiefs 27–24 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 23.112.8Late DH [c]
6January 3, 2021, 4:25 ET Green Bay Packers 35–16 Chicago Bears Fox23.012.2Late DH [d] Bears–Packers rivalry
7December 20, 4:25 ET Kansas City Chiefs 32–29 New Orleans Saints CBS22.912.7Late DH [e]
8October 25, 4:25 ET San Francisco 49ers 33–6 New England Patriots 22.912.4Late DH [f] Jimmy Garoppolo's return to New England
9October 11, 4:25 ET New York Giants 34–37 Dallas Cowboys 22.812.2Late DH [g] Cowboys–Giants rivalry
10September 27, 4:25 ET Dallas Cowboys 31–38 Seattle Seahawks Fox22.811.8Late DH [h]

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

  1. ^ TB/NO was shown in 91% of the markets during the late doubleheader time slot of Fox coverage.
  2. ^ GB/IND was shown in 83% of the markets during the late doubleheader time slot of Fox coverage.
  3. ^ KC/TB was shown in 100% of the markets during the late doubleheader time slot of CBS coverage.
  4. ^ GB/CHI was shown in 76% of the markets during the late doubleheader time slot of Fox coverage.
  5. ^ KC/NO was shown in 100% of the markets during the late doubleheader time slot of CBS coverage.
  6. ^ SF/NE was shown in 50% of the markets during the late doubleheader time slot of CBS coverage.
  7. ^ NYG/DAL was shown in 86% of the markets during the late doubleheader time slot of CBS coverage.
  8. ^ DAL/SEA was shown in 72% of the markets during the late doubleheader time slot of Fox coverage.

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Aaron Rodgers American football player

Aaron Charles Rodgers is an American football quarterback for the Green Bay Packers of the National Football League (NFL). Rodgers played college football for the California Golden Bears, where he set several career passing records, including lowest single-season and career interception rates. He was selected in the first round of the 2005 NFL Draft by the Packers.

The television rights to broadcast National Football League (NFL) games are the most lucrative and expensive rights of any American sport. Television brought professional football into prominence in the modern era after World War II. Since then, National Football League broadcasts have become among the most-watched programs on American television, and the financial fortunes of entire networks have rested on owning NFL broadcasting rights. This has raised questions about the impartiality of the networks' coverage of games and whether they can criticize the NFL without fear of losing the rights and their income.

Ryan Fitzpatrick American football player

Ryan Joseph Fitzpatrick is an American football quarterback for the Washington Football Team of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football at Harvard, where he was the school's first quarterback to have over 1,000 rushing yards, and was selected by the St. Louis Rams in the seventh round of the 2005 NFL Draft.

The 2010 NFL season was the 91st regular season of the National Football League and the 45th of the Super Bowl era.

Matthew Stafford American football player

John Matthew Stafford is an American football quarterback for the Los Angeles Rams of the National Football League (NFL). He was raised in Highland Park, Texas, where he attended Highland Park High School. He then attended the University of Georgia, where he played for the Bulldogs from 2006 to 2008 before being drafted by the Detroit Lions first overall in the 2009 NFL Draft.

The 2011 NFL season was the 92nd regular season of the National Football League and the 46th of the Super Bowl era. It began on Thursday, September 8, 2011, with the Super Bowl XLV champion Green Bay Packers defeating the Super Bowl XLIV champion New Orleans Saints 42–34 at Lambeau Field and ended with Super Bowl XLVI, the league's championship game, on February 5, 2012, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis where the New York Giants defeated the New England Patriots 21–17.

The 2012 NFL season was the 93rd regular season of the National Football League and the 47th of the Super Bowl era. It began on Wednesday, September 5, 2012, with the defending Super Bowl XLVI champion New York Giants falling to the Dallas Cowboys 24–17 in the 2012 NFL Kickoff game at MetLife Stadium, and ended with Super Bowl XLVII, the league's championship game, on Sunday, February 3, 2013, at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, with the Jim Harbaugh-coached San Francisco 49ers facing the John Harbaugh-coached Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens won 34–31. Super Bowl XLVII marked the first time two brothers were head coaches for opposing teams in the championship game.

The 2013 NFL season was the 94th season in the history of the National Football League (NFL) and the 48th of the Super Bowl era. The season saw the Seattle Seahawks capture the first championship in the franchise's 38 years in the league with a lopsided 43–8 victory over the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII, the league's championship game. The Super Bowl was played at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey on Sunday, February 2, 2014. It was the first Super Bowl hosted by New Jersey and the first to be held outdoors in a cold weather environment. The Seahawks scored 12 seconds into the game and held the lead the rest of the way on the back of their Legion of Boom defense.

The 2014 NFL season was the 95th season in the history of the National Football League (NFL) and the 49th of the Super Bowl era. The season began on Thursday, September 4, 2014, with the annual kickoff game featuring the defending Super Bowl XLVIII champion Seattle Seahawks hosting the Green Bay Packers, which resulted with the Seahawks winning, 36–16. The season concluded with Super Bowl XLIX, the league's championship game, on Sunday, February 1, 2015, at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, with the New England Patriots defeating the Seattle Seahawks, 28–24, in one of the closest games in Super Bowl history.

2015 NFL season 96th season in the history of the National Football League

The 2015 NFL season was the 96th season in the history of the National Football League (NFL), and the 50th of the Super Bowl era. To celebrate the 50th season of the Super Bowl, a gold-plated NFL logo and other various gold-themed promotions were used throughout the season. It began on Thursday, September 10, 2015, with the annual kickoff game featuring the defending Super Bowl XLIX champion New England Patriots defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers, 28–21. The season concluded with Super Bowl 50, the league's championship game, on Sunday, February 7, 2016, at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California, with the Denver Broncos defeating the Carolina Panthers, 24–10.

The 2016 NFL season was the 97th season in the history of the National Football League (NFL) and the 51st of the Super Bowl era. The season began on September 8, 2016, with the defending Super Bowl 50 champion Denver Broncos defeating the Carolina Panthers 21–20 in the NFL Kickoff Game in a rematch of the Super Bowl. The season concluded with Super Bowl LI, the league's championship game on February 5, 2017, at NRG Stadium in Houston with the New England Patriots defeating the Atlanta Falcons 34–28 in overtime.

The 2017 NFL season was the 98th season in the history of the National Football League (NFL) and the 52nd of the Super Bowl era. The season 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 concluded with Super Bowl LII, where the National Football Conference (NFC) champion Philadelphia Eagles faced the American Football Conference (AFC) champion New England Patriots. The Eagles defeated the Patriots 41–33 to win their first Super Bowl title, and fourth NFL championship, in franchise history.

Patrick Mahomes American football player

Patrick Lavon Mahomes II is an American football quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs of the National Football League (NFL). He initially played college football and college baseball at Texas Tech University. Following his sophomore year, he quit baseball to focus solely on football. In his junior year, he led all NCAA Division I FBS players in multiple categories including passing yards and total touchdowns. He entered the 2017 NFL Draft and was the tenth overall selection by the Chiefs.

The 2018 NFL season was the 99th season of the National Football League (NFL) and the 53rd of the Super Bowl era. 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 concluded with Super Bowl LIII, the league's championship game, on February 3, 2019, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia, between the AFC Champion New England Patriots and the NFC Champion Los Angeles Rams. The Patriots defeated the Rams 13–3 for their sixth Super Bowl championship and their third title in five years.

2019 NFL season 100th season of the National Football League (NFL)

The 2019 NFL season was the 100th season of the National Football League (NFL) and the 54th of the Super Bowl era. The season began on September 5, 2019, with the NFL Kickoff Game, in which Green Bay defeated Chicago 10–3. The season concluded with Super Bowl LIV, the league's championship game, on February 2, 2020, at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, Florida in which American Football Conference (AFC) champion Kansas City defeated National Football Conference (NFC) champion San Francisco, 31–20, to win their second Super Bowl championship. This was the final NFL season with the 12-team playoff format.

The 2021 NFL season is the 102nd season of the National Football League (NFL). This is the first to feature a 17-game regular season schedule as the league expanded the regular season from 16 games. The regular season started on September 9, 2021, with defending Super Bowl LV champion Tampa Bay defeating Dallas in the NFL Kickoff Game. The regular season is scheduled to end on January 9, 2022. The playoffs are scheduled to start on January 15 and will conclude with Super Bowl LVI, the league's championship game, at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California, on February 13.

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