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NFL Scheduling Procedures

How Are NFL Opponents Determined?

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A common question I get from football fans concerns the NFL's scheduling procedures and how a team's opponents are determined. Since the realignment that moved the NFL to an eight-division league, the scheduling format has become quite simple actually.

• Each team plays home and away against its three division opponents, which accounts for six games on the schedule.

• Each team plays four teams from another division within its conference on a rotating three-year cycle, which accounts for four more games.

• Each team plays four teams from a division in the other conference on a rotating four-year cycle, which accounts for another four games.

• Each team plays two intraconference games based on the prior year's standings. For example, the first-place team in a division will play against the first-place team from another division within the same conference. The second place team in a division will play against the second-place team from another division within the same conference, etc...

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