The science of setting the NFL schedule

November 26, 2014 10:10 AM

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The NFL runs dozens of computers for 24 hours a day for 12 weeks to evaluate its millions of possible schedule combinations. Each team's opponents are set at the end of the previous season based on records and the rotation of interdivision matchups. The puzzle is determining which week each game will be played, and which TV slot it will slide into.

Close to 20,000 "rules" are programmed in to let the machines know which outcomes should be avoided — everything from dates that stadiums aren't available to keeping a team from playing four straight road games.

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