It takes 136 computers and four league executives to create the 256-game masterpiece that is the NFL schedule, which the league just released this week for 2016.
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Each year the NFL schedule-makers — Senior Vice President of Broadcasting Howard Katz, Vice President of Broadcasting Onnie Bose, Senior Manager of Broadcasting Jonathan Payne and Senior Director of Broadcasting Michael North — take on the arduous task of working through the endless variables.
From fans to broadcast partners to non-football events at NFL stadiums and the resulting stress on the playing surface and traffic nightmares, these are just some of the issues that must be dealt with before starting.
Acording to NFL Football Operations, the league begins collecting information from the clubs in January about any events that may create scheduling conflicts. They are also constrained by internal factors. A formula determines each team’s opponents every year, and a rotating schedule ensures that every team plays each of the other 31 at least once in a four-year period.
It takes 136 computers in a secure room to spit out every possible schedule — a process that sets the stage for the schedule-makers to begin the arduous task of picking the best possible one.
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Below is a look at the anatomy of the NFL schedule and how each team’s opponents are set:
• Every team plays six games against the other three teams in its division, facing off twice per season — once at home and once on the road.
• Every team plays one game against each of the four teams from a division in the other conference once per season — two games at home and two on the road. These matchups are also determined by a rotation, which ensures that all teams play every team from every division in the other conference once every four years.
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• Every team plays its remaining two games against teams from the two remaining divisions in its own conference — one game at home and the other on the road. The matchups are determined by where the teams finished in their divisions in the previous season. For example, a team that finished the previous year in third place in its division will play the third-place teams from the two other divisions in its conference.
For everything else that you would ever need or want to know about the schedule, CLICK HERE for a feature by NFL Football Operations