Having travelled to see a live NFL game in every stadium in the 2008 season, there are only three things that eluded me; Going to the Super Bowl (I tailgated at the game but never managed to get a game ticket), seeing a Saturday Night NFL game (they only happen once per season) and witnessing two NFL games on the same day.
Every year I look at the schedules and build some mock mini breaks that would take in as many NFL games as possible over a long NFL weekend. My first piece of detective work is to see if one can drive from one stadium to another to see two NFL games on the same day. The only way this can work is if the first game is in the early window (1pm Eastern time) and the second game is on the Sunday Night slot and that the distance is under three hours in driving (180 miles)
California was the easiest for a double header but not any more
A few years ago the San Francisco 49ers and the Oakland Raiders had this very situation, with one playing in the early game and the other hosting the night game. The two teams used to be just 13 miles apart and this was by far the easiest double header to complete. Though as of the 2020 season the Raiders are moving to Las Vegas, so that potential double header has now gone.
Likewise in Los Angeles; From 2017 both the Chargers and the Rams moved to Los Angeles and as they played in two separate stadiums (some 10 miles apart) this too would have been a great double header, but oddly in the last three seasons there has never been a Sunday when one franchises hosts an early game while the other franchise hosts the night game. As of 2020 both teams will be sharing the brand new SoFi stadium, and I expect, much like the Giants and Jets who share MetLife Stadium, we will not see two games scheduled on one day in SoFi stadium because of the logistics of moving 80,000 fans out of one game to then bring in another set of fans.
East Coast double header opportunities; The closest three
So that leaves us with teams on the East Coast. The Washington Redskins and the Baltimore Ravens are just 38 miles apart, which now makes this double header the easiest to do in the NFL road map. Next is the Philadelphia Eagles and the New York Giants/Jets at just 91 miles apart. This one is quite likely to happen because MetLife hosts two teams thus there are more opportunities for this schedule to work. The third shortest is the Philadelphia Eagles and the Baltimore Ravens who are 104 miles apart.
What about the Midwest?
As we move inland there are still some teams who are under 180 miles apart. The Indianapolis Colts and the Cincinnati Bengals are 116 miles apart. The Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cleveland Browns are 136 miles apart, the Detroit Lions and Cleveland Browns are 171 miles from each other (though I can’t imagine anyone wanting to see the Lions and Browns host games on the same day!) and the Chicago Bears and the Indianapolis Colts are 184 miles apart, which is just about doable.
A few years ago, the Chicago Bears hosted an early kick off and the Green Bay Packers hosted the night game and I was close to booking this up and seeing this double header, but at 208 miles apart, I would either have had to leave some of the Bears game early (not willing to do), or cut short the Packers tailgate (again, not willing to do).
How about Florida?
With the Jacksonville Jaguars, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Miami Dolphins all playing in Florida, you would think doing a double header in the Sunshine State would be possible, but it turns out Florida is a massive state. However the closest two teams here are the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Jacksonville Jaguars, who are 196 miles apart, That is potentially doable as a double header.
Closest NFL teams by miles
Written by Adam Goldstein @TailgateKnight