A Little Lesson in the NFL Schedule Rotation for Common Opponents
After the announcement of the Vikings/Eagles NFL Kickoff game, some Vikings fans were claiming that the game should be in Minnesota. That is incorrect.
The amount of people who decided to tweet Mike Wobshall of Vikings.com to ask why the Vikings had to play in Philadelphia in 2018 was beyond surprising. One person even went as far to say that the game was put in by the NFL for nothing more than marketing purposes.
Thankfully someone finally brought Dan to his senses and made him realize that it isn't about marketing purposes. It's just that the NFL is able to capitalize on it this year.
For those that are still unsure how this worked out, let's take a look at the NFL schedule rotation. This was implemented in 2002 with only one slight change taking place after the first full eight year cycle. That change did nothing more than switch the teams lined up in the AFC West and NFC West so teams that ran into both one season wouldn't have to travel west four times in one season. Otherwise the schedule rotation hasn't changed.
The first part of the schedule is that each team faces their division opponent twice. Their entire division then faces one full division from the same conference, and then one full division from the opposite conference. The intraconference games are on a three-year rotation, while the out-of-conference rotation is every four years.
The remaining two games on the schedule are deemed as "common opponents." The common opponents are two games against the two intraconference divisions that a team isn't playing, and based on the standings from the previous season.
Based on the schedule rotation, Minnesota's opponents for 2018 include:
Bold = Home Games
- Green Bay (NFC North X2)
- Chicago (NFC North X2)
- Detroit (NFC North X2)
- Arizona (NFC West)
- San Francisco (NFC West)
- Seattle (NFC West)
- Los Angeles Rams (NFC West)
- Buffalo (AFC East)
- Miami (AFC East)
- New England (AFC East)
- New York Jets (AFC East)
- #1 team in NFC East = Philadelphia
- #1 team in NFC South = New Orleans
Why is it that the Philadelphia game is on the road and New Orleans on the road? It's because the common opponents, when it comes to home and away, rotate every two years.
NFC North Rotation vs. Common Opponents
Common opponents listed first followed by NFC North division played that year in full.
- 2017: vs. West (LA Rams), @ East (Washington) *NFC North vs. South
- 2018: vs. South (New Orleans), @ East (Philadelphia) *NFC North vs. West
- 2019: vs. South (TBD), @ West (TBD) *NFC North vs. East
- 2020: vs. East (TBD), @ West (TBD) *NFC North vs. South
- 2021: vs. East (TBD), @ South (TBD) *NFC North vs. West
- 2022: vs. West (TBD), @ South (TBD) *NFC North vs. East
So no, the schedule rotation is not wrong and the Vikings will play the Eagles in Philadelphia this season.
No worries Vikings fans. You'll have the chance to host Philadelphia next season (2019) as part of the schedule rotation.