How NFL Schedules Are Made A Full Explanation

Each season each NFL team will play seventeen regular-season games. Teams will play opponents from different divisions and conferences throughout the year.

The schedule each year is created using a fairly simple breakdown. The opponents are broken down into several different opponents.

  • divisional opponents – 6 Games
  • division in their own conference opponents – 4 Games
  • division in other conference opponents – 4 Games
  • opponents from remaining divisions in their own conference – 2 Games
  • non conference opponent – 1 Game

Divisional Opponents

Each year every team will play six games against divisional opponents. Each opponent will play one game at home and one on the road.

Each team will play the other teams in the division two times per year. These games are especially important because they usually determine who will clinch the divsion.

Division In Own Conference

Each year every team will be assigned one division in their own conference to play that season. The team will play four games against the teams in the division. One game against each opponent.

Ex: AFC East draws the AFC North meaning each AFC East team will play each AFC North team.

Division In Other Conference

The schedule will also include four games against a division in the other conference. Each division will rotate which division they play in the other conference.

Ex: AFC North draws the NFC South meaning each team will play all teams in the opposing division.

Opponents From Remaining In Conference Divsions

Aside from the team’s own division and the in conference division that they matched up with there are only two remaining divisions in their conference.

Each team will play two more games against these opponents. One game against a single team from each conference.

These conference opponents are chosen based on division ranking from the previous season.

This means whichever position you came in throughout your division will be the position of your opponent in their division. So if a team came in third place in their division they will play the third-place team in the remaining two divisions.

Non Conference Opponent

Additionally, each team will play a non-conference opponent to round out the seventeen game season. This opponent will be selected from a division the team is not scheduled to play.

The opponent will also be selected based on division ranking from the previous season.

How Does Division Ranking Effect The Schedule?

Division rankings is a term used to describe where you ranked in terms of wins within your division the previous year.

This ranking is used in the schedule making process when choosing your opponents. The idea behind using division ranking is to place your team in games against similarly skilled opponents.

Your division ranking is going to affect your schedule for three separate games. Each season your team will play two opponents in your division whose division you are not playing otherwise.

You will then play the team with the same division ranking as you in each of the two divisions.

Additionally, the newly added seventeenth game of the season uses division ranking as well. This game involves playing one opponent from the opposite conference. This opponent will be selected from a division your team is not playing otherwise.

The team selected will have the same division rank as your team the previous year.

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