If you are a fan of the NFL and are already looking ahead to the final week of the season, you might be questioning why every game is currently listed as TBD on the NFL Week 18 schedule.
With major playoff implications likely on the line, when will the league be announcing the official start times and dates for the last slate of regular-season action? Who can we expect to see in some of the prime-time slots?
When Will the League Announce the NFL Week 18 Schedule?
Since 2006, the NFL has waited until the last possible moment to announce the times and TV channels for its Week 18 games to try and maximize viewership and take advantage of the juiciest playoff storylines. This practice has been quite fruitful for the NFL, especially last season when the Los Angeles Chargers and Las Vegas Raiders went down to the wire on Sunday Night Football in a win-and-get-in scenario.
With no Monday Night Football game scheduled for Week 18, the last game of the year is played on NBC’s Sunday Night Football. By waiting to announce the Week 18 schedule, the NFL has the opportunity to ensure that whichever game gets that coveted prime-time slot has the most playoff implications surrounding it.
MORE: List of NFL Teams Eliminated From Playoffs in 2022
Additionally, the flexibility of being able to announce the Week 18 schedule at the very last minute means the NFL can also ensure they schedule two games with actual playoff implications on Saturday, Jan. 7, at 4:30 p.m. and 8:15 p.m. Both will air on ABC and ESPN.
The way the season has played out this year, there’s a chance the NFL drags out the release of the Week 18 schedule later than usual. The earliest it could potentially be revealed would be during Week 17’s Sunday Night Football matchup between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens. Both teams still technically have playoff aspirations, with the Ravens still fighting for the AFC North title. In past years, the league has announced the Week 18 schedule during the second half of SNF.
However, the NFL could wait until Monday Night Football to make any official announcements due to the playoff implications surrounding the exciting prime-time matchup between the Cincinnati Bengals and Buffalo Bills. The Bills can secure the AFC’s top seed with a win and a loss by the Kansas City Chiefs, while the Bengals can clinch the AFC North with a win and a Ravens’ loss or tie.
NFL Week 18 Matchups
Although we don’t know when and on what channels the games will be played, we do know which teams will be facing off in the Week 18 schedule. Here are all the matchups on tap for the final week of the season.
- New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles
- Dallas Cowboys at Washington Commanders
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons
- New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills
- Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears
- Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals
- Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers
- Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts
- Tennessee Titans at Jacksonville Jaguars
- New York Jets at Miami Dolphins
- Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints
- Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers
- Los Angeles Chargers at Denver Broncos
- Kansas City Chiefs at Las Vegas Raiders
- Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers
- Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks
Depending on what happens during Week 17, there are a couple of options the league can select from to put into their prime-time slots. One game we already know will be a win-and-get-in situation will be between the Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars. The winner will receive the AFC South crown and guarantee themselves a playoff spot. The NFL could opt to have that be the game that closes out the 2022 season.
If not, the Ravens and Bengals are both still alive in the AFC North hunt. Additionally, the Jets and Dolphins could be playing for Wild Card spots in the last week of the year. Even the Packers and Lions could technically be fighting to get in on the NFC side. With no lack of intrigue and drama available to them, it goes without saying that the NFL Week 18 schedule will likely be one of the most exciting of the season.