How Are NFL Schedules Determined?

How are NFL schedules determined? It’s a process that starts with the league’s 32 teams submitting their preferred home and away opponents.

NFL Basics

If you’re new to the NFL, or just want to understand how the scheduling process works, this article is for you. The NFL schedule is determined by a number of factors, including divisions, strength of schedule, and bye weeks. In this article, we’ll explain how the NFL schedule is determined.

How many teams are in the NFL?

As of the 2019 season, there are 32 teams in the NFL. These teams are divided into two conferences — the American Football Conference (AFC) and the National Football Conference (NFC). Each conference is then made up of four divisions, and each division has four teams. That makes for a total of 16 teams in each conference.

How many games are in an NFL season?

An NFL season is 16 games long for each team. Every team plays every other team in their own division twice during the season, which equals six games. They also play every team in two other divisions within their conference, which equals four games. Lastly, they play four games against teams from the other conference, meaning there are a total of 16 games on each team’s schedule.

What is the NFL playoffs?

The National Football League (NFL) playoffs are a single-elimination tournament held after the end of the regular season to determine the NFL champion. Six teams from each of the league’s two conferences qualify for the playoffs. A tie-breaking procedure exists if required. The tournament culminates in the Super Bowl, currently the world’s largest annual professional American football championship game.

Determining the Schedule

The NFL schedule is determined by a computer program that takes into account a number of factors, including team strength, divisional standings, and the location of bye weeks. The schedule is also designed to promote fairness and competitive balance.

How does the NFL schedule rotation work?

In order for each team to play every other team in their own conference once and each team in the other conference twice, the NFL has a set rotation schedule that they follow. In addition, teams that finish in the same place within their division the previous year will play two games (one home and one away) against teams that finished in the same place in their division.

The following explains how the NFL schedule is determined each year:

-Each team plays 16 games total, which is 4 games against each team in their own division, 4 games against 2 of the teams from another AFC division, and 4 games against 2 of the teams from an NFC division.
-The 2 out-of-conference opponents that a team plays are based on where they finish within their own division the previous season. For example, if a team finishes first in their division one year, they will play all 4 games against teams that also finished first in their divisions within their conference the following year. The next year, they will play all 4 games against teams that finished second in their divisions within their conference, and so on and so forth.

Why do some teams have bye weeks?

In order to create a 17-week regular season, the NFL must schedule each team for 16 games and have one team idle each week. The NFL has never had more than 32 teams, so at most 32 teams can play each week. That leaves one team out, and that team is said to be on a “bye.”

The NFL arranges bye weeks so that as few as possible of the league’s better teams are off at the same time. That’s why you’ll usually see some sort of symmetry in the byes. For instance, in 2014 there were four teams with byes in Week 4: Baltimore, Detroit, Kansas City and Arizona. In 2015, those same four teams will have their byes in Week 8.

The NFL also tries to avoid putting division rivals on bye at the same time whenever possible. So in 2014, for example, San Francisco and Seattle were both off in Week 11. That wouldn’t happen again until 2020 at the earliest.

How are primetime games determined?

The process begins with a master list of all the NFL teams that will be playing in primetime during the upcoming season. The NFL then assesses which matchups will be the most entertaining and make for good television. A team’s recent success (or lack thereof) is usually taken into account, as are marquee players, heated rivalries, and other factors.

Once the games have been selected, the NFL then works with the networks to determine when each game will be played. The NFL tries to avoid scheduling too many primetime games for any one team, as this can lead to fatigue and decreased performance on the field. That said, there are some primetime slots that are more coveted than others. For example, NBC’s Sunday Night Football is typically considered the most prestigious time slot of the week, as it is both the newest and most-watched primetime NFL broadcast.

Other Factors

It’s no secret that the NFL schedule is complicated. With bye weeks, primetime games, and divisional matchups, there are a lot of factors that go into making the NFL schedule. In this article, we’ll be taking a look at some of the other factors that play a role in determining the NFL schedule.


Weather is often the most-discussed topic when it comes to the NFL schedule. For example, late-season divisional games in December or January are usually played in cold-weather cities, which some say gives an unfair advantage to the home team.

Other factors that are considered when making the schedule include:

– Bye weeks: Each team is given a week off during the season, typically in October or November. This allows players to rest and recover from injuries.
– Monday Night Football: The NFL’s flagship primetime TV show airs on Monday nights. The league tries to schedule attractive matchups for this time slot.
– Thursday Night Football: This TV show began airing in 2006. The NFL tries to schedule divisional rivalries or playoff contenders for this time slot.

Stadium Availability

The most important factor in determining the schedule is making sure that every team has an equal or as close to equal opportunity to play in every stadium. Every team must play in every stadium at least once every eight years, but the NFL tries to have a more equitable distribution. To do this, they use a point system. Every team gets one point for playing a game at home, and two points for playing a game away. The total number of points a team has is divided by the number of stadiums. The lower the number, the more often that team plays in that particular stadium.


In order to limit the amount of travel that each team has to do, the NFL tries to schedule “natural rivalries” as much as possible. For example, teams that are in the same state or region will play each other more often than teams that are located further apart. This is why you’ll see the New York Giants and Jets playing each other twice a year, while the Giants and San Francisco 49ers might only meet once every four years.

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