NFL Wild Card Weekend: do teams switch ends at the end of a quarter? Rules explained

Have you ever wondered why NFL teams switch ends after a quarter finishes?

The super wild card weekend is well underway in the NFL.

Trevor Lawrence and the Jacksonville Jaguars brought drama in the late game on Saturday (14 January) after coming back from 27-0 in the first half to eliminate the Los Angeles Chargers. In the NFC, the San Fransisco 49ers outlasted the Seattle Seahawks to secure their passage to the divisional round.

Fans from across America and around the world will be tuning in as the race for the Super Bowl heats up. If you are new to watching the sport, or even a long time enthusiast, there are plenty of rules to learn.

But one thing you may have noticed is that teams appear to change end when each quarter finishes. However is this just a trick of the camera or do they really switch.

Here is all you need to know:

Do NFL teams switch ends after a quarter finishes?

It is not an optical illusion or a trick of the camera, teams do actually swap ends at the end of the first and third quarters - as well as the game kicking off again following half time, which comes after the second quarter.

The end switches also take place in overtime, if the teams are still level at the end of a period of 15 minutes. Due to a rule change, both teams will get their hands on the ball in overtime.

Why do NFL teams switch ends?

The rule which means that NFL teams switch ends at the end of each quarter has been in place since 1920. It was introduced to make the game fairer by evening the conditions.

For example if the wind was stronger in one end of the field, it means both teams have to deal with the weather every other quarter.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JANUARY 07: Patrick Mahomes #15 of the Kansas City Chiefs runs off the field after the first half against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium on January 07, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images)

When are NFL wild card games - what are the fixtures?

Following the expansion of the playoffs, there will be a total of six games during the wild card weekend. It will run from Saturday (14 January) to Monday night (16 January) in the US, with the final game taking place in the early hours of Tuesday (17 January) in the UK.

AFC

  • LA Chargers at Jacksonville Jaguars - 14 January
  • Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills - 15 January
  • Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals - 15 January

NFC

  • Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers - 14 January
  • NY Giants at Minnesota Vikings - 15 January
  • Dallas Cowboys at Tampa Bay Buccaneers - 16 January

How to watch NFL wild card weekend?

All six of the AFC and NFC playoff games will be televised in the U.S and the UK. In Britain, Sky Sports has coverage of the whole NFL season, while subscribers to NFL Game Pass can also watch all the action throughout the wildcard weekend.

Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills - 15 January

This AFC clash will take place at Highmark Stadium and will kick-off at 1pm E.T. (6pm UK). The TV coverage is as follows:

  • US - CBS and the streaming service Paramount+
  • UK - Sky Sports NFL and after 7pm Sky Sports Main Event

New York Giants at Minnesota Vikings - 15 January

The NFC playoff game at U.S Bank Stadium will kick-off at 4.30pm E.T. (9.30pm UK). The TV coverage is as follows:

  • US - FOX have coverage of Giants at Vikings
  • UK - Sky Sports NFL/ Sky Sports Main Event

Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals - 15/16 January

The Bengals will host the Ravens at Paycor Stadium in this AFC clash. It will kick-off at 8.15pm E.T. (1.15am UK). The TV coverage is as follows:

  • US - NBC and the streaming service Peacock
  • UK - Sky Sports NFL and Sky Sports Main Event