2021 NFL Schedule For this year each team will play 17 games
TOnotice the arrival of one more game for each franchise in the NFL, it is worth understanding how the calendar is made from 1978 when the League increased the season to 16 games, until the recent modification of 17 games. Determining the opponents for each team requires a simple formula, the complex thing is to conform when to play against whom.
Every year NFL executives work from the first month of the year to April with different possible combinations for a 256-game schedule. Those charged with this mission include: Howard Katz, Senior Vice President of Scheduling, Blake Jones, Senior Director of Broadcasts, Charlotte Carey, Senior Manager of Broadcasts, Michael North, Vice President of Broadcasts, and Onnie Bose, Vice President of Broadcasts.
The equation considers the needs of NFL partners (broadcasters and platforms), Restrictions on the use of stadiums and external events (sports or shows) are put on the table to put together the calendar. Another factor is the teams that share a stadium (New York Jets and New York Giants; Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers)
The rest weeks are considered, which are programmed between weeks four to twelve. In years like 2021, teams traveling for international matches should be considered.
Now if you get to work: the regular season schedule is divided into 18 weeks (after the last change); with five fixed times for broadcasts:
-Sunday at noon (CDMX)
(It should be noted that the league enables Saturdays in week 16)
The NFL computers generate 400,000 simulations in search of a formula with the smallest possible disparity; It is key to note that a team must not have three consecutive away games and it should not have two consecutive away games with a short rest week between them.
Once the above is considered, we go to the rules to determine the complex part:
-First point: Divisional rivalry.
The four teams from the eight divisions meet twice this season, one at home and the other on the road.
-Second point: Rotation
The teams play against four opponents from their own conference and against four others from the other conference. These parties are selected by lottery based on a rotating criteria year after year. So after six games against division rivals, eight more games are added.
-Third point: Equality
When we arrive here we have fourteen of the 17 games of the season already defined. Two remaining ones will be defined respecting the principle of equality, they are chosen under the criterion that each team has to play each year against two teams that they have remained in the same position within their, although evidently in another division. The teams to be selected come from the results of the previous season.
Once party number 17 has been approved, the election of the same will be given as follows: party between AFC vs NFC conferences of the duel of two years ago based on the standings of the previous year.
It should be remembered that in the sixties the one in charge of designing the schedule was Dan Rooney, owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, who assembled it by hand, using dominoes marked for the thirteen teams in the league at that time. Once the exercise was over, he presented himself to the league where he was endorsed by Commissioner Pete Rozelle.
Finally, these are the years where the number of games has been modified with respect to the growth of the NFL:
1935-1936 | 12 matches
1937-1942 | 11 matches
1943-1945 | 10 matches
1946 | 11 matches
1947-1960 | 12 matches
1961-1977 | 14 matches
1978-2020 | 16 matches
2021 | 17 matches