At the risk of mixing sports metaphors, COVID-19 has thrown a curveball at the NFL.
Late Friday, the league made some drastic changes to this week’s schedules, as coronavirus outbreaks would have decimated teams. (AP reported the Cleveland Browns would have been without 16 regulars if they had played, as scheduled, on Saturday.)
The move brought back memories of the 2020 season, when COVID forced the league to reschedule 15 games—and comes four weeks before the scheduled end of the 2021 season, when the playoff picture is still wide open.
The Kansas City Chiefs moved to the top seed in the AFC with their overtime victory Thursday, but the New England Patriots can take that spot back this week with a win over the Carolina Panthers. Over in the NFC, the Green Bay Packers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Arizona Cardinals are all sporting 10–3 records, with the Dallas Cowboys and the Los Angeles Rams right behind them.
Of the league’s 32 teams, 26 are in playoff contention, making these final weeks a wild end to a very unusual season.
Obviously, things are fluid—and schedules could change more. Still, you won’t want to miss a game. Given the proximity of the holidays, though, that could be tricky. If you’re not sure who’s playing when (and who could blame you?), we’ve got a look at the matchups—and several different options for viewing them.
Which NFL teams are playing this week? And what channels are airing the games?
Here’s a look at who’s playing who this week. (The home team is listed second.)
Sunday, Dec. 19
Tennessee Titans vs. Pittsburgh Steelers, 1:00 a.m. ET on CBS
Charlotte Panthers vs. Buffalo Bills, 1:00 p.m. ET on Fox
Houston Texans vs. Jacksonville Jaguars, 1:00 p.m. ET on CBS
Dallas Cowboys vs. New York Giants, 1:00 p.m. ET on Fox
Arizona Cardinals vs. Detroit Lions, 1:00 p.m. ET on Fox
New York Jets vs. Miami Dolphins, 1:00 p.m. ET on CBS
Cincinnati Bengals vs. Denver Broncos, 4:05 p.m. ET on CBS
Atlanta Falcons vs. San Francisco 49ers, 4:05 p.m. ET on CBS
Green Bay Packers vs. Baltimore Ravens, 4:25 p.m. ET on Fox
New Orleans Saints vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 8:20 p.m. ET on NBC
Monday, Dec. 20
Las Vegas Raiders vs. Cleveland Browns, 5:00 p.m. ET on NFL Network
Minnesota Vikings vs. Chicago Bears, 8:15 p.m. ET on ESPN and ABC
Tuesday, Dec. 21
Seattle Seahawks vs. Los Angeles Rams, 7:00 p.m. ET on Fox
Washington Football Team vs. Philadelphia Eagles, 7:00 p.m. ET on Fox
How can I watch my local NFL team 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 NFL games are one of the easiest to view, since they 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.
How can I stream NFL games live online if I don’t have a cable subscription?
There are a variety of ways to do this…
NBC’s streaming service will give you access to Sunday night games and others aired on that network. 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’s streaming service will give you access to games aired on that network. You can get a one-month free trial, followed by a $6 monthly charge.
Hulu with Live TV
You can try the service free for a week. Once that’s up, you’ll pay $65 per month.
After a two-week trial, you can expect monthly charges of $65.
Dish Network’s Sling lower-tiered Orange plan will run you $35 per month. Adding the more comprehensive Blue plan bumps the cost to $50 per month. You’ll have a seven-day free trial first. And right now, the cord-cutting service is dropping the first month’s bill to $10.
Formerly known as DirecTV Now and AT&T TVNow, AT&T’s streaming service will run you $70 per month and up. There is no longer a free trial option.
Disney’s bundle of Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+ can be enjoyed for free for seven days, after which you’ll pay $13.99 per month for all three combined.
This sports-focused cord-cutting service carries broadcast networks in most markets. There’s a seven-day free trial, followed by monthly charges of $65 to $80, depending on the channels you choose.
The Amazon-owned streaming service will also carry Thursday night games and allow viewers to interact through live chat, polls, and more.
Can I watch NFL games on Amazon?
You’ve got one more chance. Amazon Prime subscribers can’t watch weekend games on the service, but you can catch one last game this year on Christmas Day. It will be featured in the Prime Video section, and Amazon will also offer the NFL Network pregame show before each game at 7:30 p.m. ET. As mentioned above, you can also watch on Amazon’s Twitch service.
If you don’t have Prime, you can sign up for a 30-day free trial.
Does the NFL offer any viewing packages to watch the games I want?
A trio, actually…
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.
NFL Game Pass
There are couple hitches with this service. You can’t use it to watch live games, but you can watch anything once its main broadcast ends. There’s a seven-day free trial, after which you’re looking at a $100 charge per season.
NFL Sunday Ticket
DirecTV customers have access to it, but if you’re not a subscriber and live in an area where it’s not available, you can watch any NFL game live, online or on TV for $73.49 per month or $293.36 for the entire season.
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