The 1999 NFL season was the 80th regular season of the National Football League. The Cleveland Browns returned to the field for the first time since the 1995 season. Also, the Tennessee Oilers changed its name to Tennessee Titans, and the league retired the name "Oilers" – a first in league history.
The return of the Browns increased the number of teams to 31, the first time the league had played with an odd number of clubs since 1966. As a result, the NFL was forced to give at least one team a bye each week; Previously, barring extreme circumstances, a club never received a bye during the first two weeks or last seven weeks of the season. Under a new system, for ten weeks of the season (Week #1 to Week #2, and Week #10 to Week #17), one team was scheduled a bye; for seven weeks of the season (Week #3 to Week #9), three teams sat out. This format would continue for the next two seasons until the Houston Texans joined the NFL in 2002 and returned the league to an even number of teams.
The start of the 1999 NFL Season was pushed back one week and started the weekend after Labor Day, a change from the previous seasons. Due to the Y2K concerns, the NFL did not want to hold the opening round of the playoffs on Saturday January 1, 2000, and did not want teams traveling on that day. Week 17 games were held on January 2, 2000, and the opening round of the playoff would be scheduled for January 8–9. The bye week before the Super Bowl was removed to accommodate the one-week adjustment. The start of the season after Labor Day would become a regular fixture for future seasons, beginning in 2001.
The final spot in the NFC playoffs came down to an exciting final day of the season. With both the Green Bay Packers and Carolina Panthers at 7–8 and tied for the last spot in the playoffs with the Dallas Cowboys, and tied in other tiebreakers, the tie between them would be determined by best net point differential in conference games. Both the Packers and Panthers were playing at 1:00 PM Eastern on January 2, and both teams tried to outscore the other. The Packers beat the Arizona Cardinals 49–24, and the Panthers beat the New Orleans Saints 45–13. The Packers finished ahead of the Panthers by 11 points, but Dallas defeated the New York Giants later that night to claim the final playoff spot.
The St. Louis Rams, who had a losing record for each of the past nine seasons, surprised the entire league by defeating the Tennessee Titans in Super Bowl XXXIV.
Major rule changes
- Clipping is now illegal around the line of scrimmage just as it is on the rest of the field.
- A new instant replay system (different from the one used from 1986 to 1991) is adopted to aid officiating. The system mirrors a method used by the defunct USFL in 1985:
- In each game, each team has two challenges that will start a review. Each challenge will require the use of a team's timeout. If the challenge is successful, the timeout is restored.
- Inside of two minutes of each half, and during all overtime periods, all reviews will be initiated by a Replay Assistant. The Replay Assistant has an unlimited number of reviews, regardless of how many timeouts each team has left. And no timeout will be charged for any review by the Replay Assistant.
- All replay reviews will be conducted by the referee on a field-level monitor. A decision will be reversed only when there is indisputable visual evidence to overturn the call. The referee has 90 seconds to review the play.
- The officials will be notified of a replay request or challenge via a specialized electronic pager with a vibrating alert. Each head coach would also have a red flag to use as a backup to get the attention of the officials to challenge a play.
- The replay system will only cover the following situations:
- Scoring plays
- Pass complete/incomplete/intercepted
- Runner/receiver out of bounds
- Recovery of a loose ball in or out of bounds
- Touching of a forward pass, either by an ineligible receiver or a defensive player
- Quarterback pass or fumble
- Illegal forward pass
- Forward or backward pass
- Runner ruled not down by contact
- Forward progress in regard to a first down
- Touching of a kick
- Too many men on the field
The league also added the following then-minor rule change that became significant in the playoffs a few years later:
- When a Team A player is holding the ball to pass it forward, any intentional forward movement of his hand starts a forward pass, even if the player loses possession of the ball as he is attempting to tuck it back toward his body. Also, if the player has tucked the ball into his body and then loses possession, it is a fumble.
This new interpretation of a forward pass would later be commonly known as the "Tuck Rule".
- Cleveland Browns – Team returns as an expansion team after 3 years of absence from the league. Moved into brand new Cleveland Browns Stadium.
- Tennessee Titans – Moved to brand new stadium in Nashville, TN called Adelphia Coliseum.
- Baltimore Ravens – New Raven head logo on helmets.
- Detroit Lions – Removed Honolulu blue color from road uniforms.
- New Orleans Saints – Black numbers on road uniforms and added black pants with a wide gold stripe to road uniforms.
- Tennessee Titans – New nickname (from "Oilers" to "Titans"), new logo, new uniforms.
Final regular season standings
W = Wins, L = Losses, PCT = Winning Percentage, PF= Points For, PA = Points Against
Clinched playoff seeds are marked in parentheses and shaded in green. No ties occurred this year.
- Miami was the third AFC Wild Card ahead of Kansas City based on better record against common opponents (6–1 to Chiefs' 5–3).
- N.Y. Jets finished ahead of New England in the AFC East based on better division record (4–4 to Patriots' 2–6).
- Seattle finished ahead of Kansas City in the AFC West based on head-to-head sweep (2–0).
- San Diego finished ahead of Oakland in the AFC West based on better division record (5–3 to Raiders' 3–5).
- Dallas was the second NFC Wild Card based on better record against common opponents (3–2 to Lions' 3–3) and better conference record than Carolina (7–5 to Panthers' 6–6).
- Detroit was the third NFC Wild Card based on better conference record than Green Bay (7–5 to Packers' 6–6) and better conference record than Carolina (7–5 to Panthers' 6–6).
||St. Louis Rams (526)
|Total yards gained
||St. Louis Rams (6,412)
||San Francisco 49ers (2,095)
||St. Louis Rams (4,353)
|Fewest points allowed
||Jacksonville Jaguars (217)
|Fewest total yards allowed
||Buffalo Bills (4,045)
|Fewest rushing yards allowed
||St. Louis Rams (1,189)
|Fewest passing yards allowed
||Buffalo Bills (2,675)
||Mike Vanderjagt, Indianapolis (145 points)
||Stephen Davis, Washington and Edgerrin James, Indianapolis (17 TDs)
|Most field goals made
||Olindo Mare, Miami (39 FGs)
||Edgerrin James, Indianapolis (1,553 yards)
||Kurt Warner, St. Louis (109.2 rating)
||Kurt Warner, St. Louis (41 TDs)
||Jimmy Smith, Jacksonville (116 catches)
|Pass receiving yards
||Marvin Harrison, Indianapolis (1,663)
||Charlie Rogers, Seattle (14.5 average yards)
||Tony Horne, St. Louis (29.7 average yards)
||Rod Woodson, Baltimore; Sam Madison, Miami; James Hasty, Kansas City; Donnie Abraham, Tampa Bay; and Troy Vincent, Philadelphia (7)
||Tom Rouen, Denver (46.5 average yards)
||Kevin Carter, St. Louis (17)
|Most Valuable Player
||Kurt Warner, Quarterback, St. Louis
|Coach of the Year
||Dick Vermeil, St. Louis
|Offensive Player of the Year
||Marshall Faulk, Running back, St. Louis
|Defensive Player of the Year
||Warren Sapp, Defensive Tackle, Tampa Bay
|Offensive Rookie of the Year
||Edgerrin James, Running Back, Indianapolis
|Defensive Rookie of the Year
||Jevon Kearse, Defensive End, Tennessee
|NFL Comeback Player of the Year
||Bryant Young, Defensive Tackle, San Francisco
- ^ Official Rules of the NFL, Rule 3, Section 21, Article 2, Note 2