For nearly two decades, there were 256 games on the NFL regular-season schedule. With the implementation of a 17-game season for the first time in league history, there are 272 games on the 2021 regular-season schedule. And if you embark on The Ultimate NFL Road Trip, you can attend nearly 20 percent of them.
From Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021, through Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022, The Ultimate NFL Road Trip crisscrosses the United States for 53 games over 123 days, an average of one in-person NFL game every 55 hours. And you’ll do so without taking a single flight.
- You must drive. No other means of transportation is allowed.
- You must arrive before kickoff. You can’t, for example, plan a 37-hour drive in a 25-hour window.
- You must attend at least one home game for each NFL team.
Click through the interactive road trip:
With 52,346 miles over 123 days, you’ll average 426 miles per day and 988 miles per game. There are 20 drives of at least 1,000 miles, eight drives of at least 2,000 miles, and one drive of at least 3,000 miles (Foxborough to Seattle in Week 5).
Twenty-eight of the 32 teams make multiple appearances – only the Atlanta Falcons, Cincinnati Bengals, Houston Texans, and Los Angeles Chargers have one appearance – and six teams make at least five appearances, a group led by the Kansas City Chiefs (seven) and Los Angeles Rams (eight).
Only two of the Rams’ appearances, however, are at home, tied for the sixth-most among all teams. The Chiefs have the most home games (four), followed by four teams with three home games apiece: Baltimore Ravens, Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints, and Pittsburgh Steelers.
Here’s a week-by-week breakdown of The Ultimate NFL Road Trip:
The Ultimate NFL Road Trip begins at Raymond James Stadium, where the Buccaneers are seeking to continue the success of Super Bowl champions in the NFL Kickoff Game. The 2017 Patriots are the only defending champs to lose at home in the Thursday opener; those teams are 14-1 at home since 2004.
After the Cowboys-Bucs’ game, the third-longest drive of the trip awaits, a 36-hour, 2,539-mile voyage to Inglewood for the de facto opener of SoFi Stadium. It will be the first of eight Rams’ games, though only two of those are in Inglewood.
From there, it’s another de facto stadium opener as the Raiders welcome fans to Allegiant Stadium in hopes of improving their Monday Night Football record to 6-4 since 2010. They’re 65-101 in all other regular-season games over that time.
One of two four-game weeks, Week 2 starts with a cross-country drive to Landover to see if Daniel Jones’ dominance of the Washington Football Team – 4-0 against WFT and 4-18 in all other games – will continue and ends with the second Lions-Packers Monday Night Football game in the last 50 years.
Week 2 also features the first of two multi-game days on the trip; an early-Sunday game in Philly followed by a two-hour drive to Baltimore for the Chiefs-Ravens blockbuster.
Easily the least sexy slate of the trip, Week 3 is a necessary evil to satisfy rule No. 3: You must attend at least one home game for each NFL team.
The Panthers visit Houston for the second time since 2019 due to the 17-game schedule that added the game in late March. It’s just the sixth Panthers-Texans game ever and first return to the state of Texas for Matt Rhule, where the second-year head coach saw his stock skyrocket while rebuilding Baylor into a College Football Playoff contender.
Week 4 opens with your first look at Trevor Lawrence and a healing Joe Burrow, who met in the national championship nearly two years earlier. It’s the only visit to Cincinnati, the only Bengals game, and one of only two Jaguars’ games on the trip.
This is the only week you won’t attend the scheduled Monday Night Football game (Raiders at Chargers). It’s a 3,000-mile drive from Foxborough to Inglewood, an impossibly long drive to make in 20 hours after Tom Brady’s return to New England. Personally, I’d rather be in Inglewood for Raiders-Chargers (and adjust the Sunday game accordingly) but understand and appreciate the magnitude of Brady in Foxborough.
The longest drive of the trip is a 45-hour, 3,000-mile beast from Foxborough to Seattle for a pivotal early-season NFC matchup. It comes nine months after the Rams held the Seahawks to 278 yards of total offense in a 10-point Wild Card win in January.
From Seattle, you might consider a pit stop in Missoula or Bozeman for a Montana or Montana State football game en route to an AFC Championship rematch in Kansas City. It’s the first of four visits to Arrowhead over 10 weeks and the first of two Bills’ games in nine days.
And after a one-week hiatus, you’re back to Monday Night Football after a 17-hour overnight drive to Baltimore for Colts-Ravens.
Week 6 opens with the third and final Eagles’ game, all of which come in a period of 26 days, and closes with the second consecutive Bills’ game. In the middle is the second trip to MetLife Stadium in the last three weeks. It’s also the last trip to MetLife Stadium; there’s only one home game apiece for the Giants and Jets on the trip.
The turnaround time from Rams-Giants in East Rutherford to Bills-Titans in Nashville is unfortunate – approximately 900 miles in 28 hours – but it’s worth it for a Monday night on Broadway in Nashville. And with a shorter drive awaiting to open Week 7, a couple of extra days in Music City is the smart play.
The first of two visits to Cleveland is the Broncos’ first visit to the city since Josh McCown nearly outdueled Peyton Manning in an ugly overtime game six years ago. Without looking, name the leading rusher for the Broncos in that contest.
Three days later, you’re in Santa Clara for the first time this season as the Colts visit the Niners for the first time in eight years. Will it be an all-NDSU quarterback matchup with Trey Lance vs. Carson Wentz?
After a mid-week pit stop in Vegas to place your bets on Week 8 NFL odds at a BetMGM sportsbook, three straight NFC West visits conclude with the Packers’ first trip to Glendale since the Jeff Janis Hail Mary game nearly six years ago. Since that overtime win in January 2016, the Cardinals are 31-47-2, including a loss to the Panthers in the NFC Championship the following week.
The worst part of the trip: There’s only one stop in Denver. And with only two and a half days between games, there isn’t ample time for pit stops in the San Juan Mountains en route to the Front Range.
If you’re itching for college football, a detour to Columbus for Ohio State-Penn State after Jets-Colts in Indianapolis is feasible. It’s only a 10-hour drive from Columbus to Kansas City. If not, arriving in Kansas City early for Packers-Chiefs wouldn’t suck.
A day later in Pittsburgh, will Matt Nagy and Mike Tomlin be on the NFL hot seat?
The first visit to Florida since Cowboys-Bucs in Week 1 is the only visit to Miami, where the Ravens return two years after a 59-10 blowout win. Lamar Jackson had four first-half touchdown passes as the Ravens built a 42-3 lead in the second quarter. They had more yards of offense in the first quarter (226) than Miami had in the entire game (200).
Ideally, you wouldn’t arrive in Vegas after a 37-hour drive. Still, a 40-hour bender in Vegas, highlighted by a Chiefs-Raiders game on Sunday night, will be enjoyable.
Driving 500 miles to Santa Clara after said bender, however, won’t be enjoyable. At least you’ll be rewarded with an elite matchup.
If you don’t build a 28-3 lead, you can’t blow a 28-3 lead, the Falcons learned in October 2017, their lone meeting with the Patriots since the Super Bowl debacle. Maybe they’ll employ a similar strategy this year.
And after neglecting Florida for more than two months, you’re back to watch two potential Rookie of the Year candidates in Jacksonville, and the Bucs’ defense smother Daniel Jones.
The Saints didn’t play on Thanksgiving during their first 43 years of their existence. This year will be their fourth appearance since 2010, three of which have come since 2018. And with a modest drive from Tampa (650 miles), you can spend two days checking out NFL betting odds at MGM’s Beau Rivage in Biloxi before arriving in New Orleans.
Thanksgiving weekend features Matthew Stafford’s return to Lambeau Field, where his new team struggled to move the ball in a playoff loss last year, and a 900-mile drive to see Chase Young and Co. against the Seahawks’ offensive line.
If you weren’t interested in Rams-Packers and Seahawks-Washington – and 46 hours of driving – in Week 12, you could’ve remained in New Orleans for a second straight Thursday game. The Saints are the only team to play back-to-back Thursday games this season.
From there, it’s back to Pittsburgh for the second of three visits and the first and, regrettably, only visit to Orchard Park. Geography and scheduling contributed to only one trip to Highmark Stadium.
One week after the lone visit to Orchard Park, you’ll make the lone visit to Minneapolis for the Vikings’ Thursday nighter against the Steelers. It’s Pittsburgh’s first trip to U.S. Bank Stadium and their first trip to Minneapolis since a seven-point win in 2013.
It’s a short drive to Kansas City for Raiders-Chiefs on Sunday afternoon, but a 19-hour trek to Glendale immediately follows. The good news: You can relax in Arizona for a few nights before Chiefs-Chargers in Week 15.
Only one Chargers’ home game is another unintended result while plotting the 2021 Ultimate NFL Road Trip. At least it’s a short drive from Glendale for Patrick Mahomes vs. Justin Herbert at SoFi Stadium.
As noted in the infographic, an aggressive traveler might consider a detour to East Rutherford for the Army-Navy Game on Saturday before Raiders-Browns in Cleveland. It would require a 41-hour drive from Inglewood to East Rutherford and a seven-hour drive from there to Cleveland.
The NFL’s customary late-season dip into Saturday allows for four games in Week 16, starting with the second and final visit to Nashville and closing with the third and final visit to New Orleans.
And if the Panthers have an unexpectedly good season in the NFC South, your Christmas weekend could feature eight playoff contenders over five days, including the Browns’ first visit to Lambeau Field since 2013.
Your Week 17 itinerary with only two NFL games – a result of no Thursday Night Football in the final two weeks – but a stop in Arlington or Miami for a College Football Playoff semifinal on New Year’s Eve will make this a three-game week.
Regardless of location, there will be enough time to reach Baltimore for Rams-Ravens on Sunday night, followed by the Browns’ return to Pittsburgh after last year’s playoff win.
Sunday: 49ers at Rams
Without Thursday Night Football, Sunday Night Football, and Monday Night Football in the first-ever Week 18, the trip concludes with one game, a potential NFC West championship in Inglewood.
It’s the final stop in a 123-day, 53-game journey that covers nearly 53,000 miles with approximately 950 hours of driving time.
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