This Sunday, February 13, 2022, the Los Angeles Rams will face off against the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl LVI. The Rams will likely have more fans on site: The game is taking place at SoFi Stadium, their home stadium in Inglewood, California. But the Bengals may have more supporters overall—the team hasn’t been to the Super Bowl since 1989 (they lost to the San Francisco 49ers), and they’re this year’s underdogs.
For people only peripherally interested in the event itself, however, their questions might be less about who’s playing and more about why it seems to be happening much later than usual. After all, Super Bowl plans and Valentine’s Day plans don’t typically run the risk of overlapping.
Back in March 2021, the NFL announced that it was adding an extra game to the regular-season schedule. Starting that fall, each team would play 17 games, rather than the traditional 16. Since teams play once a week—and every team gets an additional bye week, meaning they don’t play that week—the regular season went from being 17 weeks long to 18 weeks long. The Super Bowl then had to be shifted a week, too, from the first to the second Sunday in February.
This isn't the first time the date for the Super Bowl has changed. Super Bowl I happened on January 15, 1967, and January continued to be the go-to Super Bowl month for the next 34 years. That streak ended in 2002: The league postponed the games for Week 2 after the September 11 attacks, so Super Bowl XXXVI got pushed from the last weekend in January to the first weekend in February. The 2003 Super Bowl was on January 26, but the NFL ended up reverting to February in 2004. Every Super Bowl since then has been in February.
This year’s Super Bowl will be the latest ever played, and it looks like the second-Sunday-in-February convention is here to stay (at least until the NFL decides to shake up its schedule again). As CBS Sports reports, Super Bowl LVII is already set for February 12, 2023.