(Peter King/SI/The MMQB)
(Peter King/SI/The MMQB)

How the 2014 Schedule Was Made

At NFL headquarters, four men and 40 computers work for 70 days, sifting through a half-million possibilities. The MMQB pulls back the curtain on the process, the roadblocks they had to navigate and why Seattle dodged a road swing from hell

From now until the opening of training camps, The MMQB will run a series of our Greatest Hits from the site’s first year. From April, Peter King gets an exclusive look at how the NFL schedule makers get the job done…

NEW YORK — On the fifth floor of the NFL’s Park Avenue offices in Manhattan, there is a small, rectangular room with frosted glass. You cannot see inside with the stainless-steel VAL PINCHBECK ROOM sign on the outside, and you cannot enter without a keycard. With good reason: This is where four men assigned to sift through more than 500,000 schedule possibilities worked almost every day (including from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Easter Sunday) for the past 10 weeks until completing the 2014 NFL schedule Tuesday night. No one without permission enters but them.  

Not even the cleaning people at night. Three hours before the schedule was announced Wednesday, there was a garbage can in one corner of the room overflowing with Vitamin Water bottles, Pepsi cans and Starbucks cups. Across the room: an industrial-strength shredder with the remnants of the schedules that didn’t make the cut. The NFL offices are white-glove tidy, but this place … not so much. As the four men of the schedule did their post-mortem, and shared it with The MMQB, it was a little gamey in the room. That’s what happens when four men and 40 computers work for 70 days to invent what they hope will be a 256-game masterpiece—but which they know will bring charges of favoritism and cronyism from teams, TV networks and stadium operators.

This year, NFL senior vice president of broadcasting Howard Katz and his team had the following roadblocks to the schedule you’ve bitched and moaned about since last night: a combined 17 games in non-traditional slots—Thursday CBS/NFL Network games, Saturday NFL Network games, and a Sunday morning FOX game (Detroit-Atlanta, from London)—as well as six One Direction concerts at NFL venues in the fall, New Zealand rugby team the All Blacks playing at Soldier Field on Saturday of Week 9 (the NFL won’t risk a bad-weather rugby game ruining an already-iffy field for a Bears game the next day), and baseball. The joke in the room late Wednesday was the NFL would have to root against the Phillies all summer, because the Eagles are home on potential baseball playoff weekends on Oct. 5 and 12. Lord help the league if the Pirates get hot in October—because the Steelers are home Oct. 20 and 26. And it’s not neighborly to fool with the World Series. 

The remnants of schedules that didn't make the cut in the Val Pinchbeck room, off limits to all but the four men who make the schedule. (Peter King/SI/The MMQB)
The remnants of schedules that didn’t make the cut in the Val Pinchbeck room, off limits to all but the four men who make the schedule. (Peter King/The MMQB)

The rubric this year is even a crazier quilt than normal because of San Francisco and Minnesota. The Niners are a marquee team, but the NFL cannot play non-holiday weeknight games in Santa Clara, site of the 49ers’ new stadium, because the team and local authorities want to have a year to figure out how to accommodate weeknight traffic flow at the stadium. “We could not play the 49ers on a Monday or Thursday at home, with the exception of Thanksgiving,” said Katz. That’s how the Seahawks-at-Niners turkey day game got made. After years of freely scheduling the Vikings, now the restrictions in Minnesota are major because they’re playing on campus at the University of Minnesota while the new Vikings stadium gets built. So no home games Monday. No home games Thursday. No home games on Gopher football weekends.  

After plugging in restriction after restriction, the magic schedule emerged from one of those 40 computers April 16, at precisely 4:20 p.m. In the six days that followed, 175 other schedules were analyzed as competitors, and 24 emerged as serious contenders, but none could beat the April 16 winner.  

The late Pinchbeck used to make the schedule by hand, by filling in first the national TV games and all the others around it. Today, NFL senior director of broadcasting Michael North, the computer geek of the crew and the only one with a direct link to Pinchbeck (who died in 2004), plugged in 4,400 “seed schedules” to the 40 computers, with different permutations for all 46 national TV games, and he let the computers spit out tens of thousands of schedules.  

“We threw away probably 175 schedules that we’d have played without batting an eye five years ago,” Katz said.  

Said North: “Any one of these 4,400 seeds might be the one that leads you to the finished schedule. Any one might be a dead end. You’ve got to play all of them out. But on April 16, this finished schedule popped out, and we couldn’t find one after that to beat it.”  

There almost was one. Before I tell you about the schedule that won the beauty contest, let me tell you about the schedule that finished in second place. If that one had won, the Seattle Seahawks would have been steamed.  

The runner-up schedule had two major Seattle glitches that NFL hates to hand teams: a three-game road trip, and a road game after a Monday night road game. And they would have happened in the same three-game stretch. In mid-season, Seattle would have played at St. Louis on a Sunday, at Washington on a Monday night, and at Kansas City on a Sunday.

“You fix one team,” Katz said, “and 12 more problems come up.”

Anyplace east of Spokane is far from Seattle, obviously. But this schedule would have been a killer. First a 1,787-mile flight to St. Louis, and back after the game. Then a 2,311-mile flight to Baltimore-Washington Airport, and back after the game. Then a 1,407-mile flight to Kansas City, and back after the game. That’s 11,010 air miles in 15 days … unless, of course, the Seahawks spent a week in the Midwest or East to minimize one of the back-and-forths. Commissioner Roger Goodell is the final approver-in-chief of the schedule, and I wondered whether he’d have approved one that had the Super Bowl champion with such a brutal 15-day stretch. 

“Would you have played that schedule?” I asked Katz.  

“Yeah, I think so,” he said. “We didn’t want to. We were hopeful that we’d find a better one. I think we would have, and we did. If we had to play it, I think we would have had an interesting discussion with Roger about it. We had many interesting discussions in this room about it—whether it was a fatal flaw or not. I didn’t deem it fatal, but we were hoping we could find a way out of it.”  

North chimed in then. “So it turns into a robbing Peter to pay Paul scenario,” he said. “If you want to fix this Seattle problem, who do you want to break in exchange? This was a schedule that we gave serious consideration to—look at this start for Kansas City.”  

North put a schedule on the monitor in the room with a dreadful opening for Kansas City: five road games in the first seven weeks. “Would we have played a schedule, if everything else was good, with five of Kansas City’s first seven on the road, including a three-game road trip—left coast, right coast, left coast?” North said.  

“The answer was no,” Katz said.  

“That schedule fixed Seattle, but it broke Kansas City worse than what we were doing with Seattle,” North said.  

“You fix one team,” said Katz, “and 12 more problems come up.”

 

 

 

* * *

From left: NFL VP/broadcasting Onnie Bose, NFL senior manager of broadcasting Jonathan Payne, NFL senior VP/broadcasting Howard Katz and NFL senior director of broadcasting Michael North in front of the old-fashioned schedule board, long a staple of the schedule process but outmoded today. (Peter King/SI/The MMQB)
From left: NFL senior manager of broadcasting Jonathan Payne, NFL VP/broadcasting Onnie Bose, NFL senior VP/broadcasting Howard Katz and NFL senior director of broadcasting Michael North in front of the old-fashioned schedule board, long a staple of the schedule process but outmoded today. (Peter King/The MMQB)

What else the group of four—Katz, North, vice president of broadcasting Onnie Bose and senior manager of broadcasting Jonathan Payne—had to contend with:

A different Thanksgiving. Three games, six NFC teams, three rivalries: Chicago at Detroit, Philadelphia at Dallas and, in the nightcap from California, Seattle at San Francisco. “We decided to make a statement on Thanksgiving,” Katz said. “It sounds corny, but it’s our most traditional national holiday. Let’s play great traditional rivalries game on Thanksgiving. So we took Chicago-Detroit and made that our CBS game.” Which leads us to …

A new NFL word: “crossflexing.” If you’re an NFL TV nerd, you know Chicago and Detroit, as NFC teams, should be on FOX if the game’s not a prime-time Thursday, Sunday or Monday game. But the new NFL TV contract calls for the league to be able to move up to seven FOX games to CBS annually, and up to seven games from CBS to FOX for the good of the overall Sunday schedule as the season goes on. One proviso: There must be an equal number of games flexed from one network to the other. Right now, four FOX games are going to CBS, and only two are slated to go from CBS to FOX. So Katz must come up with at least two more to migrate away from CBS.

Here’s how it helped this year’s slate: Look at Week 4. CBS was weak in the early 1 p.m. Eastern Time slot with Buffalo-Houston, Tennessee-Indianapolis and Miami-Oakland. Meanwhile, FOX had a gangbuster early schedule: Green Bay-Chicago, Detroit-New York Jets, Tampa Bay-Pittsburgh and Carolina-Baltimore. “We looked at it and said wait a second,” Katz said. “FOX has Green Bay-Chicago at 1, and they could take that game to a lot of places. That’s a huge game. They had two other good games. Then Carolina-Baltimore … Steve Smith playing his old team, a big storyline there. What kind of distribution will Carolina-Baltimore get if it stayed on FOX?” Katz estimated 15 to 18 percent of the country would see that game. “So we crossflexed,” he said. On CBS, Katz believes 40 percent of the country will see Carolina and Baltimore. “That’s better for our fans,” he said. Obviously, the NFC is the stronger conference now, with more attractive teams. It helps the NFL to have more attractive games move from FOX to CBS.

Andrew Luck and Peyton Manning meet again in Week 1. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andrew Luck and Peyton Manning meet again in Week 1. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Here’s another one: Washington-San Francisco will be the CBS doubleheader game (the late Sunday afternoon national game on CBS) in Week 12. Why? FOX already has a slew of strong games, including Green Bay-Minnesota and Detroit-New England, and the late game would be seen only in home markets because it’s not a FOX doubleheader week. The Washington-San Francisco game might be seen by 70 percent of the country now, instead of 20 percent.

A better Thursday schedule. There was pressure on Katz’s crew to make Thursday a strong night for football, with CBS showing eight Thursday night games starting in Week 2. The league didn’t want a bottom-feeder stinker, as sometimes happened in the past on NFL Network. The CBS package is strong, starting with Steelers-Ravens on Sept. 15, the Giants at Washington in Week 4 (the week when the CBS fall season kicks off, an important slot for CBS), Jets-Pats in Week 7, Saints-Panthers in Week 9.

The league obviously thought a Denver-Seattle opener was risky—based on the outcome of the Super Bowl. Those are my words, not theirs. “We thought there were three likely possibilities for the opener: San Francisco, Denver and Green Bay,” Katz said. “I guess we could’ve played Dallas, but we really liked Dallas for the FOX doubleheader for Week 1. Dallas also had Texas Rangers conflicts the first month of the season. Putting them on the road in Week 1 might have doomed them for four or five road games in the first few weeks. I thought we had a better place to use the San Francisco-Seattle game, because it has become such an incredibly great rivalry game. It seemed to us that saving that game for later in the season on NBC was probably a smarter move. Green Bay felt right.” The move also left Peyton Manning to kick off the Sunday night season with the Broncos. Against Andrew Luck and his old friends, the Colts

A conscious effort to play more division games late. For the past two seasons the league has played all 16 games on the final regular-season Sunday within the division. This year, the last three weeks will be heavy on division games—33 out of 48 played, up from 26 in the final three weeks last year. “A heavy dose of division games late in the season usually leads to great things,” Katz said. Five of Seattle’s final six games are within the NFC West—including both Niners games (Week 13 and 15).

Russell Wilson and Robert Griffin III will meet on Monday Night Football. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Russell Wilson and Robert Griffin III will meet on Monday Night Football. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Don’t cry for ESPN. Even with more quality games siphoned off to CBS on Thursday, the Monday slate doesn’t look bad at all. Check out the quarterbacks in the first five Monday games: Matthew Stafford, Philip Rivers, Luck, Jay Cutler, Tom Brady—and in the sixth, it’s a Russell Wilson-Robert Griffin III matchup. 

More flexing for NBC, though it’s a long shot to be used. The new TV deal allows the league to flex out of no more than two Sunday night games in six additional weeks, Weeks 5 through 10. This, basically, is insurance against a huge injury to a quarterback. Hard to imagine the NFL and NBC not wanting any of the slated games, with Brady (Week 5), Giants-Eagles (6), Niners-Broncos (7), Aaron Rodgers-Drew Brees (8), Ravens-Steelers (9) and Bears-Packers (10). It’d likely take a stunning reversal by one of the teams, or a quarterback going down, to flex in those weeks.

A very strange Thursday daily double. Have two teams ever played back-to-back Thursday games? This year, Chicago and Dallas will. Each plays on Thanksgiving, and the NFL has matched them against each other at Soldier Field the following week, on Dec. 4. “We have a rule that says each team can only play one short-week Thursday game,” Katz said. “It’s about player health and safety. Week one doesn’t count. So if you take three games on Thanksgiving, we can play 13 other Thursdays. That’s 16 Thursday games; with 32 teams, everyone plays one. In this new package, we had to figure out how to create one more. So we took two of the six teams playing on Thanksgiving and playing them against each other the following Thursday. They’re playing on full rest, and then 10 days after that.’’ Turns out it’s not the first time, as Pro Football Talk reported today: Green Bay and Dallas faced off the Thursday after they both played on Thanksgiving in 2007.

* * *

There are problems. The world champs have only one prime-time home game and it’s the enforced one that kicks off the season; that rankles the Pacific Northwest. The Bears went 8-8 last year, but they’re being treated like the ’85 Bears, with the maximum five prime-time games, plus the Thanksgiving matinee at Detroit. Chicago had better be good—really good. Oakland flies to New Jersey, New England and London, all in September. FOX wanted its annual doubleheader leading into its Sunday night World Series game in October, but that weekend, for many reasons, had to be a CBS doubleheader weekend.

But no schedule makes 32 teams and the TV networks universally happy. The computerization of the process makes sure Katz’ crew at least sees every possibility. About a month ago, before one of the computers spit out the magic schedule, North saw a schedule he liked during a sleep-deprived night. He was home. It was about 3 a.m. He screen-grabbed the slate and fired off an email to Katz with the schedule. Just one problem: One version of it included a three-game road trip for the Giants, including one to Seattle; another version of it included a three-game road trip for the Giants, all against division foes. Weird, playing all three division roadies in a row.

Eli Manning and the Giants won't have to wear road whites for three straight weeks, thanks to the patience of the schedule-makers. (Mark Cunningham/Getty Images)
Eli Manning and the Giants won’t have to wear road whites for three straight weeks, thanks to the patience of the schedule-makers. (Mark Cunningham/Getty Images)

“Howard,” North wrote in an email, “what do you think?” 

He thought Katz would be asleep. Katz wasn’t. 

“Call my cell,” Katz wrote back.

They chatted for a few minutes and Katz eliminated the option, including the Seattle trip; too many other good schedules out there. But he said he’d consider the one with three straight road division games. Luckily, they found better schedules. They went to bed that night knowing they could do better.

At the end of the process Wednesday evening, an hour before the schedule was unveiled on NFL Network, the four men looked tired. Pleased with their work, but tired.

“This schedule,” said Katz, “has the best television without putting really any unfair burden on any club.”

One more thing. Rugby in Chicago. At one point, the schedulemeisters called the Bears and said they might have to move or call off the rugby match, because they had a very good schedule that called for Chicago to be home on Sunday, Nov. 2, the day after the game.

“Really cool, right?” said North. “The U.S. rugby team playing the New Zealand All Blacks. It’s on a Saturday. What happens if it pours rain on Saturday and these huge men playing rugby tear up Soldier Field, and we’ve got a Bears game scheduled for Sunday? That would have been a problem. Then you look at the Bears schedule—they’ve got a rugby game in week nine, the city has a marathon in week six—where the start-finish line is in the parking lot [of Soldier Field]—and in week two they have a NASCAR race, and I believe also a PGA golf tournament. So there’s three weekends in the first nine that the Bears can’t be home. So what’s the net result? Even if you use the bye strategically to cover up something, that’s still a lot of road games early in the season.”

Rugby will happen Nov. 1. The Bears will be on their bye Nov. 2. Crisis averted by computer, like so many others.

 

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144 comments
VladRose
VladRose

I hope someday they won't used biased people to set up the schedules. I know who they play against is predetermined, but not whether they're home or away games. Like come on:

Green Bay vs Eagles and vs New England both at Lambeau (all division winners)

Detroit vs Arizona and vs New England both away games (arizona was 10-6 btw)


Based on the scheduling, you'd think it was Detroit that won the division last year, not Green Bay. Take a look at other teams, you'll see similar trends. The scheduling has been like that for the last 10 years.

Chris8
Chris8

Now this here was an interesting article.  It's neat to get some insight into what goes in to making a league run, and especially looking at an aspect that get's a lot of attention, but little explanation as to whats involved.


I know this is MMQB and focused on football, but I think it would be kind of interesting to hear about how other leagues (all of which play many more games) have to do their schedules; how they all find a balance with each other, and how outside events (like the Rugby game, or a concert/convention) play in to things.

daniel.asjconstructiongroup
daniel.asjconstructiongroup

New Orleans plays Sun Night then Thursday night and then three teams coming off byes one after the other.


No reason to hate the commish or anything.  Oh yeah, Aldon smith gets to come back right in time for the Saints.  How convenient.

ted hurtz
ted hurtz

really? these 4 dbags decide the schedule. must all be donkey fans.

DPreece
DPreece

So of all those schedules, why'd the NFL pick the one that totally screws the Cincinnati Bengals?  Cincy's a division champ and playoff contender.  Why put so much hardship in for them?  Three road games in a row?  5 of last 7 on the road?  Bye week is early (not in the middle of the long road stretch).  And the last two home games are brutal--vs. Pitt (a division foe they struggle against) and Denver (against a QB they've never beaten).  Cincy gets Pitt again in the mandated division game of week 17...why does Cincy never get scheduled to play lowly Cleveland that week?  (You'd think a mandated division game would rotate between all the other members of the division...)


That's an unusually large amount of awful dumped on one single team. 

DJG2
DJG2

WoW... never knew all that existed into making out the sked. Thanks for the insight. Imagine if NFL does expands internationally- into London and Canada. The details of making out the sked will become even more complex.

skanee00
skanee00

If there is one team that deserves to host a Thanksgiving Day game one of these years, it's the Green Bay Packers. Maybe the Packers could host a night game on Black Friday.

I don't like Thursday night games. I never watch, not even on Thanksgiving. It's just more enjoyable to watch the games on Sunday afternoon.

picklejuice
picklejuice

I think opening day should be a double header of the previous year's championship teams. So, this year it would be New England at Seattle and San Francisco at Denver. I'm sure there are lots of New England fans out there who said during the Superbowl, "If the Patriots had gone instead of Denver we would be kicking Seattle's butt." This opening game would shut them up.

TedinSD
TedinSD

I love the NFL, it's my favorite sport by miles, but the MLB produces a 162 game schedule, so why the big drama and tale of arduous painstaking effort to create a 16 game schedule? Talk about making a mountain out of a mole hill. Let's get onto the draft and start playing football in Sept!

Joe10
Joe10

Can they explain why everything New Orleans has played Chicago in the regular season since 2006, it's been in Chicago? They played in Chicago last year and they are scheduled to play in Chicago again this year unless I misread the schedule.

trantastic2012
trantastic2012

The NFL does not want dominant teams. Everything is done to make sure that happens. Goodell loves parity. Hence a watered down version of "football". No defense, defensive pass interference every other play, outlaw of kill shots leading to no intimidation for receivers to get lit up for going in the middle. No hitting the quarterback and on and on and on. Now he gives us worthless Thursday night games and games in London to generate more $$. He pushes back the draft and on and on and on. Mark Cuban is right I believe the greed of the NFL owners and the thirst of Goodell to monetize everything will bring down the NFL in eight years!

ForrestReda
ForrestReda

Why do West coast teams always play at 1pm EST when they travel east?

Why not schedule East Coast vs. East Coast for the 1pm game and West Coast @ East Coast at 4pm EST?

It seems like an easy fix, is there something that I'm missing?

oldirtymoose
oldirtymoose

Not sure why their computer program couldn't be written to automatically avoid the potential conflicts and flaws cited in this article.

expsly12345
expsly12345

It's about MONEY. Seattle has a great team with a small population compared the east. The NFL and its' sponsors HATE that. They DO NOT want Seattle in the playoffs or the super bowl just for MONEY reasons. Viewers were changing channels after half time in the last SuperBowl - I know, it made me cry.


Show me any NFL team that needs a Bye after just 3 games?  The NFL wants Seattle worn out near the end of the season (for MONEY reasons). I hope the Seahawks completely snuffs the league just to ruin NFL profits. 

A Bye after 3 games is complete BS. Playing completely worn out is a formula for injury.

GabrielSnyder
GabrielSnyder

So, Peter King puts the mustard on the crap sandwich the Seattle Seahawks have to eat regarding the horrible schedule the SUPER BOWL CHAMPS are forced to endure.  I can here my mother telling me that there are starving kids out there when I read your blathering about how it could be worse.  I'm not eating this meatloaf, Ma, and I'm not buying this story that the NFL 'did everything they could' to create a fair schedule. Try to be objective at least a little bit, Pete.  You are so fond of history, can't you remember when reporters at least outwardly attempted to show no bias? 

MarkCalasade
MarkCalasade

Jeezaloo, King, you couldn't find anything better to write about than the schedule? Since something about how the schedule is put together gets written about every single season, I'm guessing you decided to go all in, and write the most boring article ever written about one of the more mundane things in the NFL. Bravo.

EDC
EDC

The schedule is based off three important rules: Network influence (ability to flex), narrative (building on the hype to Sunday), market location (deliver primetime ratings to all time zones or you don't).

Rickapolis
Rickapolis

Gee, isn't everything the NFL does just wonderful?

joel.wright01
joel.wright01

I get that creating the schedule is complicated, but still -- 40 computers??

porsche356
porsche356

Another veiled crack showing King's east coast bias.

AkivaCohen
AkivaCohen

Sending the Jets to NE on a short week after playing Denver is pretty ridiculous

petpetdon
petpetdon

Complain about the schedule all you like. To the NFL it all boils down to CASH. How much more can they make from the best schedule. OH SURE, they will tell you they didn't want the Seahawks to fly all those miles but in reality it is about the cash.

Ocean_State_Patriots_Fan
Ocean_State_Patriots_Fan

Where on God’s green earth did they come up with a schedule where underachievers like the Cowboys and Bears are to be featured in more prime-time matchups—inclusive of Turkey-Day games—than powerhouses like the Seahawks, Broncos, 49ers, Packers, or Patriots?And how on God’s green earth is Brady-Manning not slated for prime time?Go figure.

Richdenver
Richdenver

Well they did a bad job. Very uneven. AFC got hosed. Primetime games NFC 62, AFC 46. NFC east almost all the teams got 5 games in primetime each. Thanksgiving not a single AFC team plays. So i give them a grade of F. 7-9 AND 8-8 teams NFC NYG, Dallas Chi, GB 5 primetime and Wash 4. AFC 8-8 MIA, NYJ, BAL 2 or 3. Pits got 5 at 8-8 and KC, CIN 11-5 only got 3. What a crock this year.

ecq
ecq

The Tigers have a home game at the same time as the Lions MNF game in September.  That'll be interesting, considering they use the same parking lots.

jeprieur
jeprieur

with all the "effort" that apparently goes into this scheduling process, why do the Saints always play the Chicago Bears always in Chicago. With the exclusion of the Conference Championship game which Chicago earned the right to host, every subsequent meeting - i think 3 additional - has been in Chicago.

When will Chicago be sent to New Orleans so we can return their brand of "hospitality" to them.2006

SportPage
SportPage

So who has the schedule maker's ears and tells and/or convinces them to seemingly always schedule P Manning's team in New England instead of at home? 


Look it up, P Manning has had to play in New England TWICE as many times as Brady travelling to play at P Manning's stadium (excluding playoffs and the first season they played when they were in the same division).


That is not random.

SciNinetyFive1
SciNinetyFive1

They have 4 guys and 40 computers but they can't script a program that eliminates 3 roadies in a row.  Seems to me that they still have a ways to go to get the latest technology.

VladRose
VladRose

@skanee00 They're given enough already including easy schedules compared to the other teams in their division. Hell, why not just give them the Superbowl ring at the beginning of the season since they're handed everything else.

Roscoe18
Roscoe18

@Joe10 The last time the NFC South and NFC North played each other (2011), the Saints were at home.  2014 is the reverse of that, so the next guaranteed home game for the Saints vs the Bears will be in 2017.  However, 2015 and 2016 are mirror images of 2009 and 2010, so if the Bears finish in the same spot as the Saints in 2014, they will play in NO in 2015 and so on.  In 2009, you played the Lions in that spot and in 2010, you played the Vikings.

VladRose
VladRose

@trantastic2012 Doesn't want dominant teams my butt. That's why every year they keep adjusting the rules to benefit New England and Green Bay.
Just as you said, defense not allowed and no touching the quarterback. Rules like that give Brady and Rodgers field days week in and out.

Alex1
Alex1

@ForrestReda Im gonna go out on a limb and say that they dont always play at 1pm EST... and the only reason it seems that was is that they are much more 1 EST game that 4 pm ones

Alex1
Alex1

@oldirtymoose They put in a bunch of blocks and it generates every possible schedule... which is hundreds of them. Then they go back and add/take away blocks until something works that looks good. If you block out every potential conflict you wont be able to get a full schedule, so they have to play around with it until something works out that looks good and minimizes the issues

neershah9
neershah9

@expsly12345  Every year, there are teams that have a week 4 bye. Just because it happens to be your team, doesn't mean suddenly everyone's out to get you. Also, the Seahawks are gaining so much popularity that they'd probably outnumber fans of any team they'd face in the Super Bowl.

VladRose
VladRose

@GabrielSnyder I agree. They should have given Seattle the Jets schedule. Talk about a team that got screwed this year....

George
George

@porsche356  Yup.   No-neck is shameless when it comes to NY / New England luv.   Not to mention the narcissistic need to lecture us on coffee and craft beer.

Gr8Writer
Gr8Writer

@Richdenver Not only did the AFC get hosed, but the Chargers got hosed in particular. I challenge you to find a tougher 5-game schedule to end the season than the one the Chargers have: @Ravens, Patriots, Broncos, @49ers, @Chiefs. That's 5 incredibly good teams, 3 of which are away games! That is not a fair schedule by any stretch of the imagination.

GabrielSnyder
GabrielSnyder

@jeprieur  Seahawks also go to the Panthers for the third year in a row. I guess beating them twice isn't good enough.  Me and you could have got together on a weekend and put a better sked together...


Canakz
Canakz

@jeprieur  When will the Saints be sent to SF? Three years in a row the 49ers have to go to the damn bayou.

Quaker2001
Quaker2001

@SportPage Where a game is played is based on a pre-determined formula.  The schedule makers have no control over that whatsoever.  They don't decide the home and away opponents.  That is determined the minute the regular season ends.

doyleholland
doyleholland

@SciNinetyFive1  I'd like Peter to ask these four NFL staff just what they use 40 computers for during this process.


I talked to a colleague of mine who programs analytic systems for a living by developing learning algorithms. His software routinely deals with combinations of circumstances that are millions of times more complicated than a 32-team league playing 256 regular season games.


His systems don't even need more than one computer to generate hundreds of millions of combinations and then winnow them down to the best fit over the course of an elimination process.


I think Peter is counting up to 40 computers by adding up a bunch of laptops running Microsoft Outlook, a bunch of iPads showing Youtube videos, and a few desktop computers running Microsoft Excel doing the actual schedule generation.


The truth is simple: the NFL head office could save a lot of money, time, drama, and 3 AM phone calls  in this process if they contracted out this schedule generation function to a skilled software outfit, where one good programmer with a decent laptop can program a schedule generation and evaluation system that can handle all of the constraints mentioned in this article (and many hundreds more) and spit out a fully vetted master schedule (or even a 'top 3 candidates' schedule for Goodell to pick the winner just to keep him thinking he needs to be in the loop) within minutes.

LindaS.Thomas
LindaS.Thomas

Again, since 2006, each regular season game, Saints vs. Bears, the game has always been in Chicago and we want to know why? Again in 2014, the SAINTS must travel to Chicago. Where's the so called rotation cycle?

Roscoe18
Roscoe18

@Canakz @jeprieurAgain, it's a formula.  In 2015, the 49ers will play the NFC South team that finishes in the same spot in their division at home.  If that is the Saints, then they will be the team you play.  If not, you won't play the Saints at all in 2015.  But in 2016, the NFC West and NFC South play each other, just like last year, but the home/away games will flip flop.  So you'll get them in SF in 2016 at the very least.

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