Week 18 is a bit of a bonus for football fans. Last year was the first, in fact. But it makes the playoff picture even more exciting. And the NFL, knowing this, didn’t finalize the schedule until earlier this week, to spotlight the most important games in terms of playoff contention.
Of course, after Monday’s horrific on-field collapse of Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin, things got even more complicated, and both the Bills vs Bengals will certainly have that in the back of their heads when they take the field—as they are scheduled to do.
Most of the playoff berths are secured. But three spots remain—one in the NFC and two in the AFC. And it’s a tight, tight race for those.
In the NFC, three teams have 8-8 records. In the NFC, four do – and the Titans are still in contention with a 7-9 record, due to their second-place standing in the AFC South. And in both leagues, two teams fighting for a slot will face each other this week.
It’s bound to be riveting, even for people who are just part-time fans of the NFL. Here’s a look at all of the matchups this week and how best to catch the games.
Which NFL teams are playing this week? And what channels are airing the games?
Here’s this week’s lineup. (The home team is listed second.)
Saturday, Jan. 7
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Las Vegas Raiders, 4:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
Tennessee Titans vs. Jacksonville Jaguars, 8:15 p.m. ET on ESPN
Sunday, Jan. 8
New England Patriots vs. Buffalo Bills, 1:00 p.m. ET on CBS
Cleveland Browns vs. Pittsburgh Steelers, 1:00 p.m. ET on CBS
Houston Texans vs. Indianapolis Colts, 1:00 p.m. ET on CBS
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Atlanta Falcons, 1:00 p.m. ET on Fox
Carolina Panthers vs. New Orleans Saints, 1:00 p.m. ET on Fox
Minnesota Vikings vs. Chicago Bears, 1:00 p.m. ET on Fox
New York Jets vs. Miami Dolphins, 1:00 p.m. ET on Fox
Baltimore Ravens vs. Cincinnati Bengals, 1:00 p.m. ET on CBS
New York Giants vs. Philadelphia Eagles, 4:25 p.m. ET on CBS
Los Angeles Chargers vs. Denver Broncos, 4:25 p.m. ET on CBS
Dallas Cowboys vs. Washington Commanders, 4:25 p.m. ET on Fox
Los Angeles Rams vs. Seattle Seahawks, 4:25 p.m. ET on Fox
Arizona Cardinals vs San Francisco 49ers, 4:25 p.m. ET on Fox
Detroit Lions vs. Green Bay Packers, 8:20 p.m. ET on NBC
How can I watch NFL games for free—even if I am out of market?
The best way to watch any sort of network programming for free on a big screen is with a good HD antenna. And watching most NFL games is fairly simple, since many breaths of air on broadcast networks, meaning you’ll be able to watch even if you don’t have a cable subscription. To ensure you’re getting the most reliable signal, be sure to test the antenna in multiple locations in your home.
Can I stream NFL games live online if I don’t have a cable subscription?
Yep, with several methods available:
NBC’s streaming service will give you access to several games, including all Sunday night matchups. You can get a seven-day free trial, followed by a $5 or $10 monthly charge. (The free version of Peacock does not include live sports.)
CBS’ streaming service will give you access to games aired on that network. You can get a one-week free trial, followed by a $5 or $10 monthly charge.
Disney’s bundle of Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+ no longer have a free trial, so you’ll have to pay $13.99 per month for all three combined (or $19.99 per month for no ads on Hulu). Including Live TV in the bundle bumps the price to $70 per month ($76 with no ads).
Hulu with Live TV
The free trial on this service is no longer offered, as well. It will cost you $70 per month.
After up to a two-week trial, you can expect monthly charges of $65.
Dish Network’s Sling recently increased its prices. The lower-tiered “Orange” plan will now run you $40 per month. Adding the more comprehensive “Blue” plan bumps the cost to $55 per month. (A $5 per month increase for each.) The seven-day free trial has disappeared along with the price increase, but the cord-cutting service is offering 50% off of the first month’s bill.
Formerly known as DirecTV Now, AT&T TVNow and AT&T TV, this oft-renamed streaming service will run you $70 per month and up after the free trial option.
This sports-focused cord-cutting service carries broadcast networks in most markets. There’s a seven-day free trial, followed by monthly charges of $70–$100, depending on the channels you choose.
Can I watch NFL games on Amazon?
Yes, but not today or tomorrow. Amazon is, for the next 11 years, the exclusive home to Thursday Night Football and no longer streams weekend games. The next matchup will see the Jacksonville Jaguars face the New York Jets on Dec. 22.
Does the NFL offer any viewing packages to watch the games I want?
A trio of them.
The NFL App will let you stream games that are being broadcast locally in your market on Sundays. If you want to watch an “out of market” game, you’ve got two choices.
Watch live local and out-of-market games and (with the premium subscription) replays. There’s a seven-day free trial, after which you’re looking at a $30 charge per season. ($80 for premium.)
DirecTV customers have access to it, but (if you meet the conditions, like living in an apartment complex or some area where you can’t get DirecTV) you can also sign up for an online version, letting you watch any NFL game live this season. There’s a one-week trial, then you’re looking at monthly charges of $73.49 per month for a four-month period or $293.36 for the entire season (or $99 for four months or $396).