NFL to play 2 games on Christmas Wednesday

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NFL games on Christmas Day remain the gifts that keep on giving for the league, and that will continue in 2024 with two matchups despite the holiday falling on a Wednesday, it was announced.

Matchups for the games, which will include teams that play on the previous Saturday to account for the recovery window, have yet to be determined.

“When we saw the viewership from this past year, really our fans spoke,” NFL executive vice president of media distribution Hans Schroeder said. “We certainly saw and believe that they are very much enjoying and wanting NFL football on Christmas.”

The NFL played three games on Christmas Day 2023, with the Baltimore Ravens-San Francisco 49ers, New York Giants-Philadelphia Eagles and Las Vegas Raiders-Kansas City Chiefs matchups all being played on a Monday.

The Christmas Day games have generated massive television ratings, with ESPN’s Ravens-49ers telecast having more than 27.2 million viewers, making it the second most-watched “Monday Night Football” game since 1996.

“From what we’ve seen the last couple years is really some unprecedented growth, and not just on Christmas, on Thanksgiving, too,” Schroeder said. “The last couple of years have had the highest-regular season game ever viewed in the regular season. That mindset, that opportunity, that belief we have that football brings people together — that’s even truer on these big holidays that happen throughout the year.”

Wednesday games are rare. The last time a game was played on a Wednesday came in 2021, when a COVID-19 outbreak forced the Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers to delay their planned Thanksgiving game until the following Wednesday.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said games on Wednesdays “will not be a regular thing” and that the league has not seen an elevation of injuries from playing mid-week games.

“Well, I think the days are the same for us. We’ve done this,” Goodell said of the four-day window that will be similar to teams playing on a Thursday after having played the previous Sunday. “In fact, COVID was a learning opportunity. I think it was the first time we played on a Wednesday … but the time period between games has been done before.

“We have not seen any elevation of injuries. You all, and we, have had a major focus on Thursday night when we first put it in, and we’ve still not seen any kind of elevation of injuries. So I think we have this down.”

Overall, the league has had 30 games on Christmas Day since the NFL held two divisional playoff games on Dec. 25, 1971. There have been nine games played on the holiday since 2020.

This will be the fifth straight season the NFL has played on Christmas, encroaching on a sports day typically dominated by the NBA.

In 2024, the NFL schedule calls for the league to be idle only on Tuesdays.

The league holds games every week on Sunday, Monday and Thursday, with some late-season contests held on Saturday. A Black Friday game was introduced last year and will continue in 2024, and a Week 1 game in Brazil also will occur on Friday.

Field Level Media contributed to this report.

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