The NFL schedule consists of 256 total regular-season games, which goes across 17 total weeks. There are going to be constants in the schedule, like playing your division a total of six games, one game away, and one game at home, but the rest is going to depend on the prior season. Now the NFL schedule makers have a tough task of spanning out the matchups and deciding TV coverage as well. Before we get into how they go through that process, there is a process that occurs for making sure a team will play every team in the league at least once every four years. There are two conferences and four divisions in each conference. There will always be six games against divisional opponents, and four games against another division within the conference. This rotates each year. Two of those games will be at home, and two will be on the road. A team will also play four games against another division in the opposite conference with two at home and two on the road. The last two games will be two games against the divisions not played yet, and those are based on where they finished in the division.
Once this is set, there are going to be thousands of schedules created, and then things will begin to be broken down to see which is the best one. Schedule makers have to factor in not overloading weeks with the best matchups, as they will want to span those out. Games are going to be spanned across Thursday, Sunday, and Monday. You will get some Saturday games towards the end of the year as well. Those days also have the primetime slot, which is the night game, and those are often going to be some of the best matchups of the given week. However, you will have the game of the week, which is going to be the afternoon game on a Sunday. Towards the end of the year, flex scheduling gets kicked in as they will start to move around games based on playoff implications, and of course, a team could lose their star quarterback, and that matchup is not as appealing anymore.
Schedule makers also have to give a team a bye week, which is going to be an off week for several teams from weeks 5-13. The only week within that where every team will play is going to be Week 12 because that is Thanksgiving week and no bye weeks are ever scheduled for then. The schedule makers will also try and balance out having a run of road and home games in a row. No team wants to play four games in a row on the road, and traveling is also going to be factored into it. Teams that have to travel all over the place can be at a disadvantage, but sometimes they will be unlucky in that regard. They will also consider that teams playing on short and long weeks, meaning a team won’t play on Monday and then play on Thursday the next week.
Easiest Team Schedules For 2020
The Indianapolis Colts walked out winners from the draft release, as they already have a fairly soft schedule within their division. Tennessee is expected to regress a bit, while Houston lost DeAndre Hopkins over the offseason, and Jacksonville shipped away most of their defensive talent. The Colts will open up the first six games in favorable spots before going on bye. The Colts also have a fairly easy run into the end of the year, facing the Raiders, Texans, and Jaguars. The only tough game there is on the road against the Steelers. The Kansas City Chiefs are already a powerful team, and the schedule given to them will give them a clear path to the playoffs yet again. The Chiefs will have two games against the Raiders, which helps within the division, and then some out of division games against the Panthers, Dolphins, and Falcons is going to be fairly easy as well.
Cleveland is set for a potential bounce-back year as the schedule sets up nicely for them to get going after all the hype from last season. While they will have to deal with the Steelers and Ravens within their division, outside of the division isn’t too bad. They will get to take on the Redskins at home, as well as the Raiders. This is before their bye week, where they come out of the bye facing the Texans and Eagles at home. Getting those games at home is a plus, and Houston isn’t quite the powerhouse that made it to the playoffs last year. Towards the end of the year, they have very winnable games against the Jaguars, Titans, Giants, and Jets. The Lions are another team with a potential bounce-back year. The NFC North is always one to rotate around, as we have seen in the last few years. Detroit outside of the division has some winnable games against the Jaguars, Falcons, Redskins, Panthers, and Titans.
With Tom Brady heading into Tampa Bay, the expectations are high, and there are a lot of winnable games on the schedule for the Buccaneers. For one, they get to face the Panthers twice, who is projected to be one of the poorer teams in the league. They also get to face the Raiders, Giants, and Lions in winnable out of division games. Playing the NFC North could go either way for the Buccaneers this year, and the same goes for the AFC West, depending on if their offense can overcome some top defenses like Chicago, Los Angeles, and Denver.
Hardest Team Schedules For 2020
The 2020 schedules are not kind to everyone, and the NFC South has a couple of teams that have a tough schedule. Starting with the Atlanta Falcons, who already have to worry Drew Brees, but now have Tom Brady added to the division looking to bring up the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. However, the Falcons don’t end there facing quality quarterbacks, as they will have to face the NFC North this year. That means games against the Vikings, Packers, Lions, and Bears. The Lions are the only easier matchup for them based on the defense, but their offense can put up numbers. Atlanta will have to face off against the Cowboys on the road early, and welcome the Seahawks in Week 1. They also end the season with the Saints, Chargers, Buccaneers twice, and on the road against the Chiefs.
Both New York teams have the schedule going up against them, and that is not great for teams trying to improve. The Jets even more so have a brutal schedule, especially factoring in the defenses this lackluster offense will have to face. Sam Darnold is going to be seeing ghosts once again. The Jets will take on four straight defenses that rank inside the top half of the league from 2019, and likely will be moving down. That continues with the Chargers and Chiefs in the middle of the year. New York will also have to deal with the Bills and Patriots defense twice each. After the bye week, they have some easier games but go on the road in three of the last four games facing Seattle, Los Angeles, and New England. As for the Giants, you couldn’t have asked for a worse start to the season, facing the Steelers, Bears, 49ers, Rams, and Cowboys. They also have a tough end of the season, facing the Cardinals, Browns, Ravens, and Cowboys.
Denver put a lot of promising pieces into the offense this year, but the chances of them moving within the division standings are going to be tough. The Charger's defense is going to be strong, and the Chiefs are going to be the team to beat. Denver also has some matchups against the Steelers on the road, and then back at home against Tampa Bay. The end of the season run is a bit tough for the Broncos as they have to face the Chargers, Saints, and Chiefs in a row, before returning home to take on the Bills. There are a lot of good defenses that are going to be looking to stunt Drew Lock’s growth.
2020 Schedule Storylines
The NFL season starts up with Tom Brady facing Drew Brees in a hall of fame quarterback showdown, as these teams are expected to battle it out for the NFC South. This all comes after the season opens up with the Kansas City Chiefs and the Houston Texans opening up the NFL Season. A few teams are opening up their new stadiums this year, as the Las Vegas Raiders will make their Las Vegas debut in Week 2. The Chargers and Rams will do the same, like Week 2, the Rams will open up SoFI Stadium, and in Week 3, the Chargers will do the same. Tampa Bay has five primetime games, as you can see the Tom Brady effect clearly in play here.
On Thanksgiving, you have the usual games with Detroit and Dallas hosting the Texans and the Redskins. The nightcap is going to be a battle between the Ravens and the Steelers. On Christmas, you have Minnesota coming into the Superdome for a rematch of the playoff game from two years ago. There are a lot of great quarterback matchups this season, as we will see Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers square off in Week 4 in New Orleans. Towards the end of the year, we get a battle of two classic NFC powerhouses, as the San Francisco 49ers will visit the Dallas Cowboys.
NFL Schedule FAQ
When Is The NFL Schedule Released Each Year?
The NFL Schedule has no set day every year, but you can usually find the schedule release around the first or second week of May. The release covers all teams and also the scheduled TV coverage, alongside bye weeks for each team.
How Many Games Do NFL Teams Play?
Every NFL team will play 16 regular-season games and four preseason games. Each team will have a bye week scheduled between weeks 5-13, which is their off week. Teams can play up to 20 games, depending on how far they go in the playoffs.
Do NFL Teams Play Each Other Every Year?
There is no set schedule in the NFL, and every team will not play the same exact teams each season. The only games on the schedule that do repeat each season are the three divisional opponents, where they play each other both home and away.
How Many Bye Weeks Do NFL Teams Have?
Every NFL team will have only one bye week, and those are scheduled from weeks 5 through 13 this year. The only exception is Week 12, which is when all teams play due to it being Thanksgiving week. No team will have more than one bye.
How Many Division Games Do NFL Teams Play?
Every division has four teams in it, and they will play each other in a home and away series. This equals six divisional games, which occur every year. It is important for teams to win because tiebreakers include head-to-head and division win percentage.
How Many Conference Games Do NFL Teams Play?
An NFL team will have their schedule broken down by playing six games against divisional opponents within their conference, four games against another inter-conference division, and then another two games against their conference, bringing it to ten games against their own conference.
What Months Is The NFL Regular Season?
The start of the NFL season will start on different dates, but a week in September is the usual starting date. The season will run through January, with the last week finishing up within the first two weeks of January.
How Many Home Games Do NFL Teams Play?
Every team will have eight home games each season. However, some of those home games could be international games where they play in London or Mexico City. This takes away from their own stadium, but can still be considered a home game.
How Many Away Games Do NFL Teams Play?
Every NFL team will have eight away games scheduled. Three of them will be against their own division every year. A road game might also mean they travel to another country and play as the NFL has opened up international games.
What NFL Team Has The Hardest Schedule 2020?
The Atlanta Falcons have the toughest 2020 schedule, as they will take on teams that add up to the most win totals of any opponent’s faced. They are also only favored in just seven of their games scheduled and are in a tough NFC South.
What NFL Team Has The Easiest Schedule 2020?
The Indianapolis Colts have the easiest 2020 schedule as they are favored in nine games, and their toughest game they are underdogs by just three points. Their opponents only have a combined win total of 120.5. It is a good year for Colts to bounce back.
When Does Week 1 NFL Start?
The first game of the NFL regular season starts on September 10th, 2020. It is a Thursday game as the Kansas City Chiefs will host the Houston Texans, which is a playoff rematch from 2019. It is televised on the NBC network.