Football at Christmas

Seems that the next big American holiday is upon us.  Hours of TV specials, decorations, parties, great food, and time with family and friends.  That’s right the Super Bowl is next Sunday!  What does Christmas have to do with football you might be wondering.  Usually football is not a part of Christmas celebrations.  Football is connected more to Thanksgiving.  Traditional NFL games are hosted by certain teams annually.  Families flock to the backyard for annual bragging rights in “flag” football domination.  2011 was one of those years that Christmas fell on a Sunday.  Sundays in December are prime football territory.  Teams are vying for playoff spots and millions tune in to see the story of the week.  So what happens when the two meet?  Usually there are 14 games on a Sunday in late December.  How is it decided what happens?  Believe it or not, the NFL has guidelines/rules about football and Christmas.

The NFL has only played Christmas games since 1989.  There have been 17 games played on Christmas day and only 16 teams have participated.  Here’s how it’s all figured out.  When Christmas is on a Sunday, most of the games are moved to the 24th, Christmas Eve, and one game will be played on Christmas night.  This was the case in 2011.  The games moved to Christmas Eve must be played before 9 PM local time. This is due to the guideline that no games be played from 9 PM local time on the 24th until 5 PM Eastern Standard Time on the 25th. They even have it covered in case Christmas Eve is a Monday.  When this happens they make sure to schedule West coast teams for Monday Night Football.  This fits within the rules.

2011’s Christmas game was played in Green Bay at Lambeau field.  The Packers beat the Chicago Bears 35-21.  This is the second time the two teams met in Green Bay for a Christmas contest.  In 2005 the visiting Bears were victorious.  If it all seems a little complicated to you, don’t fear.  You have until 2016 before the NFL will have another Christmas Sunday.  

TRIVIA QUESTION:  Which NFL team has played the most Christmas games at five?  Post your response in the comments section. Correct responses will get some recognition from us here at The Yule Log.