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Here's how the NFL schedule works. There are eight divisions (NFC North, East, West, South, and AFC North, East, West, South). Each division has four teams, each of which plays 16 games. The opponents for those games are determined like so:

  • 2 games against each of the other 3 teams in the same division (6 games)
  • 1 game against each of the 4 teams in another division in the same Conference (4 games)
  • 1 game against each of the 4 teams in another division in the other Conference (4 games)
  • 2 games against the same place finishers in the 2 divisions in the same Conference they are not already playing (2 games)

For example, Jacksonville is in the AFC South and finished in 3rd place in their division. This year, the AFC South plays the NFC North and the AFC West. So 14 of Jacksonville's games are: Indianapolis (2x), Houston (2x), Tennessee (2x), Green Bay, Minnesota, Chicago, Detroit (NFC North teams), Denver, San Diego, Oakland, and Kansas City (AFC West teams). Their final 2 games are determined by their 3rd place finish. They will play the 3rd place AFC North team (Baltimore) and the 3rd place AFC East team (Buffalo).

Every time some NFL "expert" starts jabbering about this or that team's "1st place schedule" or "last place schedule," metaphorically knock some sense into them. A team's placement in their division from the previous year has very little effect on their schedule in the current year.