2015 NFL season
|Duration||September 10, 2015 – January 3, 2016|
|Start date||January 9, 2016|
|Super Bowl 50|
|Date||February 7, 2016|
|Site||Levi's Stadium, Santa Clara, California|
|Date||January 31, 2016|
|Site||Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii|
|National Football League seasons
The 2015 NFL season will be the 96th season in the history of the National Football League (NFL). The season is scheduled to begin on Thursday, September 10, 2015, with the annual kickoff game featuring the defending Super Bowl XLIX champion against a yet to be named opponent. The season will then conclude with Super Bowl 50,[note 1] the league's championship game, on Sunday, February 7, 2016, at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California.
Training camps for the 2015 season will be held in late July through August. Teams may start training camp no earlier than 15 days before the team's first scheduled preseason game.
Prior to the start of the regular season, each team will play at least four preseason exhibition games. The preseason schedule will get underway with the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game on Sunday evening, August 9. The Hall of Fame game is a traditional part of the annual Pro Football Hall of Fame induction weekend celebrating new Hall of Fame members. It will be played at Fawcett Stadium which is located adjacent to the Hall of Fame building in Canton, Ohio. The game, which will be televised in the U.S. on NBC, and will feature two teams announced at the same time as new Hall of Fame members are announced. The 65-game preseason schedule will end on Thursday, September 3, a week before the start of the regular season.
The 2015 regular season will feature 256 games to be played out over a seventeen week schedule which begins on the Thursday night following Labor Day. Each of the league's 32 teams will play a 16-game schedule with one bye week for each team scheduled between weeks four and twelve. The slate will also feature games on Monday night. There will be games played on Thursday, including the National Football League Kickoff game in prime time on September 10 and games on Thanksgiving Day. The regular season concludes with a full slate of 16 games on Sunday, January 3, all of which, are expected to be intra-divisional matchups, as it has been since 2010.
- Scheduling formula
Under the NFL's current scheduling formula, each team plays each of the other three teams in their own division twice. In addition, a team plays against all four teams in one other division from each conference. The final two games on a team's schedule are against the two teams in the team's own conference in the divisions the team was not set to play who finished the previous season in the same rank in their division (e.g. the team which finished first in its division the previous season would play each other team in their conference that also finished first in its respective division). The pre-set division pairings for 2015 are as follows:
Highlights of the 2015 schedule include:
- NFL Kickoff Game: The 2015 season will begin on Thursday, September 10, 2015, with the winner of Super Bowl XLIX hosting a yet to be announced team.
- International Series: Three games will be played at Wembley Stadium in London, England in 2015, with two games being played in back-to-back weeks for the first time. The Miami Dolphins will play host to the New York Jets on October 4, the first ever divisional game played in the International Series. The Jacksonville Jaguars will then host the Buffalo Bills on October 25, in the third of four consecutive home game for the Jaguars in the International Series. Finally, the Kansas City Chiefs will host the Detroit Lions on November 1.
- Thanksgiving Day games: These games will occur on Thursday, November 26, 2015. Dallas and Detroit will traditionally each host a game along with a third as yet unannounced contest.
The playoffs will begin with the Wild Card playoff round on the weekend of January 9–10, 2016. The Divisional round games will then be played on the weekend of January 16–17, with the winner of each of the games visiting the top two seeded teams in each conference. The Conference championships will be held on January 24 with AFC Championship Game at 3:00 PM ET On CBS and the NFC Championship Game at 6:30 PM ET on Fox.
Super Bowl 50 will decide the 2015 NFL champion on February 7, 2016, at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California. Instead of naming it Super Bowl L with Roman numerals like in previous Super Bowls, this game will be marketed with the Arabic numeral "50". According to Jaime Weston, the league's vice president of brand and creative, the primary reason was that the league's graphic designers had difficulty designing a suitable, aesthetically pleasing logo with only the letter "L".
Potential NFL relocation to Los Angeles and San Antonio
- Oakland Raiders
On July 29, 2014, reports surfaced that the Oakland Raiders may consider relocating to San Antonio in 2015 after owner Mark Davis met with San Antonio civic leaders the week before at the encouragement of former Raider Cliff Branch, which Davis was in town to visit for a local ceremony for Branch. The Raiders themselves had acknowledged Davis being in San Antonio for the event for Branch before news broke about a possible relocation, but wouldn't confirm nor deny that Davis also mentioned being there discussing moving his team east. Among the two existing NFL teams in Texas, Houston Texans' owner Bob McNair and Dallas Cowboys' owner Jerry Jones — the latter of which has San Antonio as part of his territorial rights and previously voiced support of an NFL team moving there when the New Orleans Saints temporarily played in San Antonio in 2005 due to damages to the Superdome following Hurricane Katrina — both favor an NFL team playing in San Antonio.
Though San Antonio is a smaller market than the San Francisco Bay Area, the Raiders wouldn't be sharing the market with another NFL team, and would only compete with the NBA's San Antonio Spurs among major sports teams. Additionally, the Raiders would use the Alamodome as a temporary home until an NFL-specific stadium could be constructed. The team's lease at the O.co Coliseum expires after the 2014 season.
On September 3, 2014, the city of Oakland reached a tentative deal to build a new football stadium in Oakland, which would result in the Coliseum being demolished; Davis did not respond to the proposal, which would also force the Oakland Athletics to build a new stadium of their own (which they have yet to agree to do), while Alameda County (co-owners of the current stadium) indicated they would probably not support the plan. Davis has, in the meantime, continued to negotiate with San Antonio officials and had team officials scout the Alamodome to determine if it would be suitable for the NFL.
- St. Louis Rams
The Rams and the St. Louis CVC began negotiating deals to get the Rams home stadium, the Edward Jones Dome into the top 25 percent of stadiums in the league (i.e., top eight teams of the thirty two NFL teams in reference to luxury boxes, amenities and overall fan experience). Under the terms of the lease agreement, the St. Louis CVC was required to make modifications to the Edward Jones Dome in 2005. However, then-owner, Georgia Frontiere, waived the provision in exchange for cash that served as a penalty for the city's noncompliance. The City of St. Louis, in subsequent years, made changes to the score board and increased the natural lighting by replacing panels with windows, although the overall feel remains dark. The minor renovations which totaled about $70 million did not bring the stadium within the specifications required under the lease agreement. On February 1, 2013, an Arbitrator (3 panel) selected to preside over the arbitration process found that the Edward Jones Dome was not in the top 25% of all NFL venues as required under the terms of the lease agreement between the Rams and the CVC. The Arbitrator (3 panel) further found that the estimated $700 million in proposed renovations by the Rams was not unreasonable given the terms of the lease agreement. Finally, the City of St. Louis was Ordered to pay the Rams attorneys' fees which totaled a reported $2 million.
Publicly, city, county and state officials have expressed no interest in providing further funding to the Edward Jones Dome in light of those entities, as well as taxpayers, continuing to owe approximately $300 million more on that facility. As such, if a resolution is not reached by the end of the 2014-2015 NFL season and the City of St. Louis remains non-compliant in its obligations under the lease agreement, the Rams would be free to nullify their lease and relocate.
On January 31, 2014, both the Los Angeles Times and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that Rams owner Stan Kroenke purchased 60 acres of land adjacent to the Forum in Inglewood, Los Angeles County, California. It would be, by the most conservative estimates, sufficient land on which a NFL-proper stadium may be constructed. The purchase price was rumored to have been between US$90–100 million. Commissioner Roger Goodell represented that Mr. Kroenke informed the league of the purchase. As an NFL owner, any purchase of land in which a potential stadium could be built must be disclosed to the league. This development has further fueled rumors that the Rams intend to return its management and football operations to Southern California. The land was initially targeted for a Walmart Supercenter but Walmart could not get the necessary permits to build the center. Kroenke is married to Ann Walton Kroenke who is a member of the Walton family and many of Kroenke's real estate deals have involved Walmart properties.
The Tennessee Titans will switch their primary colored jerseys from light "Titans Blue" to navy blue, the latter of which was the team's primary home jersey color from 1999–2007. Tommy Smith, who was named the Titans' president and CEO following the death of longtime owner Bud Adams in 2013, stated that the light "Titans Blue" jerseys were being phased out.
This will be the second season under broadcast contracts with ESPN, CBS, Fox, and NBC. This includes "cross-flexing" (switching) Sunday and Thanksgiving afternoon games between CBS and Fox before or during the season, regardless of whether the visiting team is in the AFC (which CBS normally airs) or the NFC (which is normally carried by Fox). NBC will continue to air Sunday Night Football, the Kickoff game, and the primetime Thanksgiving game. ESPN will continue carrying Monday Night Football and the Pro Bowl.
The league-owned NFL Network holds an option to extend its agreement with CBS to simulcast half of its Thursday Night Football package, an agreement that was struck the previous season; should the league choose not to exercise the option, it could put the package back up for bids.
- For this Super Bowl only, the league will use the Arabic numeral "50" instead of the Roman numeral "L". See the postseason section for details.
- Rovell, Darren (June 4, 2014). "NFL: It's Super Bowl 50, not L". ESPN.com. Retrieved June 4, 2014.
- "Scheduling Forumla". NFL Record & Fact Book 2015. NFL. p. 16. ISBN 978-1618933942.
- "NFL announces 2015 International Series lineup". NFL.com. November 6, 2015. Retrieved November 16, 2014.
- Raiders look at potential home deep in heart of Texas San Francisco Chronicle (07/29/2014)
- McNair in favor of 'strong franchises' ESPN.com (07/30/2014)
- Goodell: Levi's might fit Raiders ESPN.com (07/18/2014)
- "New stadium deal for Raiders gives team land, pays off debt". San Francisco Chronicle. September 3, 2014. Retrieved September 3, 2014.
- Mark Davis, San Antonio group meet. Associated Press via ESPN.com. Retrieved November 8, 2014.
- Wagoner, Nick (February 1, 2014). "Stan Kroenke buys 60 acres in L.A.". ESPN.com. ESPN Internet Ventures. Retrieved September 4, 2014.
- Piper, Brandie (January 31, 2014). "Report: Rams owner bought 60 acres of land in Calif.". ksdk.com. Gannett Satellite Information Network, Inc. Retrieved September 4, 2014.
- Wyatt, Jim (November 21, 2014). "Titans will stick with white jerseys". The Tennessean. Retrieved November 21, 2014.
- "How CBS won Thursday night". Sports Business Daily. Retrieved 17 September 2014.