The NFL schedule is created with the help of a simple formula

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  • The NFL will release its schedule for the 2018 season on Thursday.
  • The NFL follows a simple formula for making the schedule each season.
  • Teams play their divisional opponents, and a rotating cast of same-conference divisions, non-conference divisions, and similarly placed teams.

The NFL will release its schedule for the 2018 season on Thursday.

And while fans eagerly await to see when their favourite teams will play and where, who their favourite teams will play is already predetermined.

The NFL uses a straightforward formula to determine their schedule, and if fans want, they can figure out who they will be playing with a little bit of research and deduction.

Here’s how the NFL’s schedule formula works:

  • You play 6 games against the other 3 teams in your division.
  • You play 4 games against each team in one of the other 3 divisions in your conference. Those divisions are rotated each year. This means you play every team in your conference at least once every 3 years during the regular season.
  • You play 4 games against each team in one of the 4 divisions in the opposing conference. Those divisions are rotated each year. This means you play every team in the other conference once every 4 years during the regular season.
  • You play 2 games against teams that finished in the same place in their respective divisions as you did in your division (e.g. a 1st place team will play 2 other 1st place teams, a 2nd place team will face 2 other 2nd place teams, etc.). These teams come from your conference and come from the 2 divisions not used in the second bullet above.

The final bullet is designed to pit good teams against each other and possibly to get star-studded matchups. As our Cork Gaines noted in 2014, it’s why we got a surplus of Tom Brady-Peyton Manning matchups.

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