TNF in football stands for Thursday Night Football, this refers to the single NFL game that is played each week on Thursday night.
There are three prime time games that are played each week of the NFL season Thursday, Sunday, and Monday. Of these three primetime games, Thursday night football tends to get the fewest viewers.
For this reason, you may find that Thursday night football matchups are not always of the highest quality.
When it comes to scheduling the teams for Sunday night, and Monday night football you will find they are usually high profile game. Whether it’s division rivals, historic franchises or the top teams that year these prime time games tend to draw large audiences.
TNF games are a little more difficult to schedule due to how they affect a teams ability to rest.
When playing Monday night or Sunday night football a team is going to have more or less the same amount of rest of previous weeks. But if a team is playing Thursday night football they will only have three or four days to prepare after their game the previous weekend.
For this reason, the league is very particular about how they schedule these games. Throughout the season you will find that very few teams will play more than one Thursday night game in a season.
Since playing on Thursday means you will have little time to prepare the league will attempt to schedule Thursday night games evenly across the league.
In most seasons you will find that each team will play one or zero Thursday night games in a season. Since these games are still prime time the NFL will attempt to make these games a good matchup.
But since most teams have to be included there are always a few dud games throughout the year.
Why Is There No Thursday Night Football?
If it is late into the NFL season you may notice that there are no Thursday night football games scheduled for the last few weeks of the year. The reason for this is because with playoffs approaching the NFL wants all teams on the same schedule.
A few extra days to prepare can make a big difference in the NFL. If a team plays on Thursday night on the last week of the year they will have an extra Friday, Saturday, and Sunday to get ready for their playoff opponent.
This is also why there are no Monday night football games during week 16 or 17 of the regular season.
This way when playoff matchups are announced all times will have the same amount of time to prepare (barring the teams that played on Saturday in week 17).
Starting Off The Season
Another interesting fact about Thursday night football is that this is now used to start off the season. Previously the first game of the season would take place on Sunday but now the biggest Thursday night game of the year takes place on opening day.
Usually, this game will feature the reigning Superbowl champ playing against another highly-rated opponent. This makes for big ratings due to it being the first game of the season as well as the quality of the matchup itself.