Just one day after the end of the 2015 regular season, the NFL announced the opponents for all 32 teams for the upcoming 2016 season Monday.
Kickoff is 247 days away—but who's counting?—with a Thursday night matchup set for Sept. 8. Teams will play schedules centered around their division and order of finish, but here's a look at what the NFL uses to determine a team's matchups, per John Breech of CBS Sports:
- Home and away against its three division opponents (six games).
- The four teams from another division within its conference on a rotating three-year cycle (four games).
- The four teams from a division in the other conference on a rotating four-year cycle (four games).
- Two intraconference games based on the prior year's standings (two games). These games match a first-place team against the first-place teams in the two same-conference divisions that the team is not scheduled to play that season. The second-place, third-place, and fourth-place teams in a conference are matched in the same way each year.
- Beginning in 2010, a change was made to how teams are paired in the schedule rotation to ensure that teams playing the AFC and NFC West divisions would not be required to make two West Coast trips (e.g., at San Francisco and at Seattle), while other teams in their division had none (e.g., at St. Louis and at Arizona).
There are some mainstays on the schedule such as division opponents and the seemingly annual Seattle Seahawks vs. Green Bay Packers clash, but there are a few games that might pique your interest that don't take place often.
It's the AFC East's turn to play the NFC West, which means we get a rematch of Super Bowl XLIX, which saw the New England Patriots edge Seattle, at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots will also play the NFC No. 2 seed Arizona Cardinals on the road in what should be a great matchup.
The 15-1 Carolina Panthers will play six teams that are in the playoffs this year, including the Denver Broncos, the Kansas City Chiefs, Seattle and Arizona.
Although it's been a disastrous 4-12 season for the Dallas Cowboys, Breech pointed out they will have at least six games against teams with new head coaches in the New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, Cleveland Browns and San Francisco 49ers.
Other storylines include an NFC Wild Card Round rematch between Green Bay and Washington, three games in London (Washington vs. Cincinnati Bengals, Indianapolis Colts vs. Jacksonville Jaguars, Giants vs. St. Louis Rams) and another meeting between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Dallas, who have met in three Super Bowls.
|2016 NFL Schedule: 10 Notable Non-Division Games|
|Seattle Seahawks||Green Bay Packers|
|Carolina Panthers||Seattle Seahawks|
|Green Bay Packers||Washington|
|Dallas Cowboys||Pittsburgh Steelers|
|Seattle Seahawks||New England Patriots|
|New England Patriots||Arizona Cardinals|
|Kansas City Chiefs||Carolina Panthers|
|Arizona Cardinals||Carolina Panthers|
|Indianapolis Colts||Denver Broncos|
|CBSSports.com/*Game Played in London|
The NFL will set the dates and times in the coming months, but here is a comprehensive list of the matchups for all 32 teams.