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Love football as much as you love a good award redemption? TPG Contributor J. Keith van Straaten understands. Here’s his way to see a whole lot of football for not that many points and miles. (As of this writing, all flights listed below have availability — and all stadium photos are used courtesy of the individual stadiums.)
If you can get a couple months off to travel, or if you can do your work on the road, there’s a way to see all the football you can handle — and thanks to a recent spate of lucrative credit card bonuses, such as 75,000 miles with the Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard, 50,000 points with the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, or 30,000 points with the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card, many of you have the points and miles to do it on the cheap.
For those of you who caught our Baseball Binge earlier this year, keep in mind: The NFL has more teams and fewer games than baseball, so this tour will take longer. Also, the NFL has instituted Flexible Scheduling, which could move some afternoon games into the evening. This itinerary gives you a bye week in Week 5 to allow you some wiggle room.
So here’s an itinerary to see all 32 National Football League teams in 60 days, for fewer than 140,000 points and miles. (Note that hotels are not included in that figure.) Are you ready for some football?
A Few Things Before You Go
This itinerary uses lots of Ultimate Rewards points (which you can earn from cards like Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Freedom and Ink Plus) and ThankYou points (which you can earn from cards like Citi Prestige and Citi ThankYou Preferred Card).
When preparing to rent a car, always check the partner pages of your frequent flyer program to see what bonuses and discounts are being offered. That way, you can score a discount, earn bonus miles and still double-dip by booking with a credit card that earns you bonus points or miles on car rentals.
Consider using your points and miles to upgrade your football frenzy. Check out the experience sites listed at the bottom of this post for some ways to take each game over the goal line.
The links for each game listing will send you to the home team’s official (full-price) ticket site. For the more cost-conscious, search Craigslist and StubHub for game tickets below face value. You can also look on the NFL’s official Ticket Exchange. All game times are Eastern.
OK, Let’s Go!
Your countdown kicks off on/in:
Thursday, September 10 — Foxborough, Massachusetts
Teams seen: 2
Points used: 0
Sunday, September 13 — Houston & Dallas, Texas
Fly JetBlue from Boston (BOS) to Houston (HOU) using 5,500 TrueBlue points (if you don’t have enough, you can transfer 7,000 Membership Rewards points).
If the Chiefs hadn’t moved from Dallas and changed their name in 1963, this game could have been Texans vs. Texans.
After the game, grab a flight from Houston (HOU) to Dallas (DFW) on American using 4,500 Avios points (which you can transfer 1:1 from Chase Ultimate Rewards).
Teams seen: 6
Points used: 10,000
Monday, September 14 — Atlanta, Georgia
Fly from Dallas (DFW) to Atlanta (ATL) on Spirit using 4,368 ThankYou points.
It’s the first Monday Night Football game of the season, and you’ll be there to enjoy it. The Falcons are still two seasons away from a new stadium, but it looks to be something special. Fun fact: The last time the Falcons played the Eagles on Monday Night Football was 2005.
Teams seen: 8
Points used: 14,368
Sunday, September 20 — Chicago, Illinois and Green Bay, Wisconsin
Fly from Atlanta (ATL) to Chicago (ORD) on American using 3,006 ThankYou points.
Bear down as you watch the two oldest franchises in the NFL battle it out.
After the game, rent a car and drive to Green Bay, Wisconsin — the 200-mile trip should take about three hours. Warning: remove any Chicago Bears clothing or risk the consequences.
Enjoy a rematch of the 2014-15 NFC Championship game in the longest continuously occupied stadium in the league.
Teams seen: 12
Points used: 17,374
Monday, September 21 — Indianapolis, Indiana
Drive to Indianapolis, a 400-mile trip that should take about six hours. (There are flights you could take instead, but neither the routing nor the mileage values are good.) Recommended stop: Indianapolis Motor Speedway and its Hall of Fame museum.
Teams seen: 14
Points used: 17,374
Thursday, September 24 — East Rutherford, New Jersey
Fly from Indianapolis (IND) to New York (JFK) on American using 7,500 Avios. A designated bus goes to/from the stadium and Manhattan for $10 round-trip.
What’s more offensive: Washington’s team name or a New York team playing in New Jersey? The game should provide great conflicts, too.
Teams seen: 15
Points used: 24,874
Sunday, September 27— Minneapolis, Minnesota and Detroit, Michigan
Fly from Newark (EWR) to Minneapolis / St. Paul (MSP) on United using 12,500 MileagePlus miles. (If you’re short, you can transfer 1:1 from Ultimate Rewards.)
You can celebrate on the plane. After this game, fly from Minneapolis / St. Paul (MSP) to Detroit (DTW) on Delta using 17,500 SkyMiles. (You can transfer 1:1 from American Express Membership Rewards and in different ratios from several hotel loyalty programs.)
Watch two Pro Bowl quarterbacks (Stafford actually replaced Manning on the roster last season) slug it out under the dome. In the unlikely event you can’t get into Ford Field, it should be pretty easy to get into the Lions’ previous stadium, the Silverdome.
Teams seen: 19
Points used: 54,874
Thursday, October 1— Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Drive to Pittsburgh, a 300-mile trip that should take 4.5 hours. You could fly using 9,000 Avios, but then you wouldn’t get to stop at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.
Rivalry alert! These teams hate each other. The best thing about seeing a game at Heinz Field? If the Steelers are down, they can probably … ketchup.
Teams seen: 20
Points used: 54,874
Sunday, October 4— Tampa, Florida and New Orleans, Louisiana
Fly from Pittsburgh (PIT) to St. Petersburg – Clearwater (PIE) on Allegiant using 4,511 ThankYou points. (Note: You may have to call to book, as Allegiant flights are not commonly shown on the ThankYou travel site.)
After this game, fly from Tampa (TPA) to New Orleans (MSY) on Southwest using 8,264 Rapid Rewards points (transferable 1:1 from Ultimate Rewards).
After missing out on the playoffs last season (for the first time since 2012), will 2015 bring the return of the brown paper bags to the heads of Saints fans?
Teams seen: 23
Points used: 67,649
Sunday, October 18— Nashville, Tennessee
Use your bye week to catch a team whose game got shifted due to Flexible Scheduling (or just catch your breath). Then, take it all to Tennessee! Fly from New Orleans (MSY) to Nashville (BNA) on Southwest for 9,924 Rapid Rewards points.
Teams seen: 25
Points used: 77,573
Sunday, October 25— London, England
Fly from Nashville (BNA)-Chicago (ORD)-London (LHR) on American for 20,000 AAdvantage miles.
Tea and crumpets and gridiron, oh my! Previous opening acts for the NFL’s International Series have included Def Leppard and Goo Goo Dolls. Too hardcore for your tastes? You’re in luck. This time around, it’s the Ohio State University Marching Band.
Teams seen: 27
Points used: 97,573
Sunday, November 1— St. Louis, Missouri
Fly from London (LHR)-Dallas (DFW)-St. Louis (STL) on American for 20,000 AAdvantage miles.
They’re more than 2,000 miles and two time zones apart, but somehow both of these teams are division rivals in the NFC West.
Teams seen: 29
Points used: 117,573
Thursday, November 5— Cincinnati, Ohio
Fly from St. Louis (STL)-Chicago (ORD)-Cincinnati (CVG) on American for 9,000 Avios points.
Teams seen: 31
Points used: 126,573
Sunday, November 8— Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Fly from Cincinnati (CVG) on Delta for 12,500 SkyMiles.
Welcome back to Heinz Field (your only revisited stadium of the tour) for the final game of your frenzy! Exhausted? Wipe away the sweat with a genuine Terrible Towel.
Teams seen: 32
Points used: 139,073
Congratulations! Using fewer than 140,000 points and miles, you saw all 32 National Football League teams in 60 days. And there’s enough of the season left to do it again …
But if you’re planning to go to just a few games this season, visit experience and auction sites for ways to use your points on individual games and special perks. Note that of this writing, none of the major experience/auction sites’ offerings align with this Football Frenzy itinerary, but new events are added all the time.
Check out these other TPG posts on using points for sports experiences:
Evaluating IHG Rewards Club and Other Auction Programs
My Favorite Use of Points Ever? VIP at the Knicks With SPG
Experience With Points: Hilton HHonors Auction Platform
Are Flights and Hotels Really the Best Award Redemptions?
Got any tips we missed? Think you can plan it better? Let us know in the comments below!