I've written in the past about how NFL scheduling works; you can find this information in Patriots 2009 schedule: a peek under the hood, Part I and Part II. In these 2 stories, the "mysteries" of the scheduling process are revealed and we find that it's not such a mystery afterall. In fact, the formula is so well thought out that I calculated it for the next fifty years, minus the 2 games related to record. So who are our 2010 opponents?
- AFC East - Obvious. We play each team in our division twice, accounting for 6 games: Dolphins, Bills, Jets, Dolphins, Bills, Jets not necessarily in that order.
- AFC North - Steelers, Bengals, Ravens, Browns
- NFC North - Vikings, Bears, Packers, Lions
- Other conference teams with same standing - Colts (South), Chargers (West)
At least 4 games out of the AFC East could be challenging: 2 with Miami and 2 with New York. It's hard to say what Buffalo will come up with, a new head coach and all. In the AFC North, Pitt and Baltimore will give us a run for our money; the Bengals could give us a run for our money, but the Browns are a joke. In the NFC North, the Bears and Lions present little in the way of competition, but the Vikings and Packers are the teams to watch out for in that conference. Then there's the last 2. The Colts and Chargers are perennial sore spots for our Patriots.
This always brings up the same question: Why we play the Colts soooooo dang much? The answer is quite simple, actually. For the 2009 season, it was because we played teams in the AFC South. For 2010, it's because the Colts were Division Champions as were we. We've either had them as part of our AFC South rotation once every 3 years OR we matched up because of record.
The mysteries of scheduling and opponents revealed.