In the process, such aberrations as the Packers having to play in Dallas four consecutive years, as they were required to do from 1993 through 1996, thus will be eliminated.
Additionally, all 32 teams are assured of "equal opportunity" under the new formula, since each team will:
Play home and away against its three division opponents (6 games) each year;
The same four teams from another division within its conference on a rotating three-year cycle (4 games);
The same four teams from a division in the other conference on a rotating four-year cycle (4 games);
Play two intraconference games, based on the prior year's standings (2 games). These games will match a first-place team against the first-place team in the two same-conference divisions the team is not scheduled to play that season. The second-place, third-place and fourth-place teams in a conference will be matched in the same way each year.
In 2002, for example, the Packers will draw the following schedule of opponents:
Intradivision: NFC North (Chicago, Detroit and Minnesota, home and away); Intraconference (NFC South: Atlanta, Carolina, New Orleans, Tampa Bay); Interconference (AFC East: Buffalo, Miami, New England, New York Jets).
In 2003: Intraconference (NFC West: Arizona, St., Louis, San Francisco, Seattle); Interconference (AFC West: Denver, Kansas City, Oakland, San Diego).
In 2004: Intraconference (NFC East: Dallas, New York Giants, Philadelphia, Washington); Interconference (AFC South: Houston, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Tennessee)
In 2005: Intraconference (NFC South: Atlanta, Carolina, New Orleans Tampa Bay); Interconference (AFC North: Baltimore, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Pittsburgh).
As a result of the new format, there will be, league-wide: Increased common-opponent emphasis with every team in a division playing against 14 common opponents (over a l6-game schedule).
All teams will play each other on a regular basis, home and always, for a more consistent presentation of attractive games, eliminating the many schedule aberrations of the past.
Teams are guaranteed to play all non-divisional opponents in their conference at least once every three years, and at home at least once every six years.
Every AFC team will play every NFC team once every four years, and at home once every eight years.
A team's record from the previous year will have less of a bearing on its schedule with only two (rather than four) opponents being based on the previous year's standing. Thus, the so-called "easy" fifth-place schedules are eliminated.
Over the eight-year span, every team will play every other team at least twice - once home and once away.
The division in which a team resides will be less of a factor in a team's won-lost record with 10 of 16 games each year against non-division teams.
In deciding how to begin the divisional rotation in 2001, the displacement of teams from their old divisions in the new alignment was taken into account. Preference accordingly was given do scheduling games with former division rivals and other attractive opponents for clubs realigned from otherwise intact divisions.
For example, in 2002, the NFC North and NFC South pairing will give Tampa Bay games against its former NFC Central rivals (Chicago, Detroit, Green Bay and Minnesota). The new NFC West will play the AFC West to match Seattle with old rivals from the AFC West (Denver, Kansas City, Oakland;, San Diego). The NFC West also will play the NFC East in order to match Arizona with its old NFC East rivals (Dallas, New York Giants, Philadelphia, Washington).
Also in 2002, the AFC North and AFC South are matched so that Jacksonville and Tennessee will play their former rivals from the old AFC Central (Baltimore, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh).
* Packers also play home & away series with each NFC North team each year. courtesy NFL