The NFL is releasing its 2023 schedule in full on Thursday, but per usual, some of the marquee matchups are being revealed early.
The league has already announced which teams will be playing in international games during the 2023 NFL season. It has also reported some of the notable holiday matchups, including one on Christmas and one of the New Year's Eve contests.
And, of course, the NFL made it a point to reveal who would be playing in its inaugural Black Friday game as well.
The NFL is adding a Black Friday game to the schedule for 2023. That is an exceedingly rare move considering that the league has largely avoided playing on Fridays even during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
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So, why is the NFL playing a Black Friday game, and which teams are going to be lucky enough to play in it? Here's what to know about the NFL's latest scheduling quirk for the 2023 season.
When is the Black Friday NFL game in 2023?
- Matchup: Dolphins at Jets
- Date: Friday, Nov. 24, 2023
- Time: 3 p.m. ET | Noon PT
- TV channel: Amazon Prime
The NFL's Black Friday game will feature a divisional clash between Aaron Rodgers' Jets and Tua Tagovailoa's Dolphins. The two teams will play at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., just 10 miles outside of what figures to be a bustling New York City.
Amazon is set to broadcast the first Black Friday NFL game as part of its "Thursday Night Football" TV deal with the league. Usually, fans must be subscribed to Amazon Prime to watch the game, but Amazon will be making this telecast free for all fans.
That is certainly a decent gesture to start the holiday season, but it isn't all selfless. Expect there to be plenty of Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions during the broadcast designed to grab the attention of NFL fans and drive them to Amazon's online shopping center.
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Why is the NFL playing a Black Friday game?
Every decision the NFL makes is about the money, and that rings true here.
The NFL is essentially adding another stand-alone game that should attract plenty of viewers to watch it. With Amazon allowing free access to the contest, the league stands to top its normal "Thursday Night Football" viewership from other Amazon broadcasts and potentially drive more subscribers to the service. And an increase in subscribers and viewers means an increase in revenue for the NFL.
And as Hans Schroeder, Chief Operating Officer for NFL Media, noted when the league first announced it would contest a Black Friday game in 2023, having a Black Friday broadcast will be beneficial to Amazon.
"Thanksgiving is synonymous with football and we're excited to give our fans another day of NFL action during this holiday weekend," Schroeder said. "Amazon is uniquely positioned to partner with us for this game as Black Friday is one of the most important days of the year for their business."
Amazon is one of the NFL's most important partners given its 11-year "Thursday Night Football" rights deal that pays the league $1 billion per season. So, it certainly is sensible that the league would want to keep Amazon as happy as possible, even if it does involve playing an exceedingly rare Friday NFL game.
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History of Friday NFL games
The NFL often played on Fridays during the early days of its history, but since the AFL and NFL merger in 1970, there have been just 11 games on Fridays. And most of them in recent seasons have occurred on holidays.
In fact, you have to go back to 2005 to find the last Friday NFL game that wasn't played on a holiday. That contest was moved to Oct. 21 because Hurricane Wilma was expected to make landfall in Florida over the weekend. The Chiefs ultimately beat the Dolphins 30-20 after the schedule scramble.
The NFL's most recent Friday game came in 2020 when the Saints beat the Vikings 52-33 on Christmas Day. Below is a look back at the NFL's Friday games since the merger:
|1970||Sept. 18||Rams vs. Cardinals||Rams 34, Cardinals 13|
|1983||Dec. 12||Dolphins vs. Jets||Dolphins 34, Jets 14|
|1984||Dec. 14||49ers vs. Rams||49ers 19, Rams 16|
|1985||Dec. 20||Seahawks vs. Broncos||Broncos 27, Seahawks 24|
|1986||Dec. 19||49ers vs. Rams||49ers 24, Rams 14|
|1993||Dec. 31||Redskins vs. Vikings||Vikings 14, Redskins 9|
|1999||Dec. 24||Saints vs. Cowboys||Saints 31, Cowboys 24|
|2004||Dec. 24||Vikings vs. Packers||Packers 34, Vikings 31|
|2005||Oct. 21||Dolphins vs. Chiefs||Chiefs 30, Dolphins 20|
|2009||Dec. 25||Titans vs. Chargers||Chargers 42, Titans 17|
|2020||Dec. 25||Saints vs. Vikings||Saints 52, Vikings 33|
The Jets vs. Dolphins Black Friday game will still technically be a holiday game, so it won't break the 18-year streak held by the Chiefs-Dolphins game. Still, it will be in exclusive company given the NFL's lack of Friday games.
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Why doesn't the NFL play on Fridays?
The Sports Broadcasting Act of 1961 is the main reason that the NFL doesn't play many Friday games. That law essentially blacked out NFL games played on Friday nights and Saturdays to protect attendance at high school and college football games.
As such, the NFL largely has avoided scheduling games on those days.
That said, the NFL has made a push for more late-season Saturday games that have often taken place when the college football regular season and conference championship games are over. They could be considering doing something similar with Friday night games, and that may explain the league's decision to beta test this "Black Friday" contest.
Of course, the NFL still had to make some concessions about the start time of the game, given that there are still some high school football games being played in late November. That's why the game will start at 3 p.m. ET on Black Friday; it will allow the games to avoid being blacked out as a result of any games still being played under the Friday Night Lights.