The 2015 NFL regular season schedule is set to be released soon. Teams and fans wait anxiously to find out when their team will face the designated opponents.
Opponents are determined by the end of the previous season, but the actual schedule takes several months. Why?
According to the SI.com's MMQB, the four men assigned to creating every team's regular season schedule, led by NFL senior vice president of broadcasting Howard Katz, must go through over 500,000 possible scenarios, out of a possible 824 trillion game combinations (according to Judy Battista of the NY Times), in order to put forth the final slate of 256 games.
The final version has to take into account TV schedules, competing markets, and for a team like the Raiders, who deal with the possibility of the Oakland Athletics in the playoffs, or the Minnesota Vikings, who have restrictions while playing at the University of Minnesota.
The people in charge of the schedule have the help of a computer, which produces schedules that are analyzed. They have the ability to input critical games, or situations to avoid, and then the computer generates a schedule. Several more versions are created after that to compete against the original.
Katz and his team go through each computer output and check for any unreasonable "asks" for a team. The MMQB article provided the following example of an unreasonable ask - a schedule that gave Seattle three-straight road games that were played on a Sunday, Monday and Sunday again.
Another example was a schedule in which Kansas City had five road games in the first seven weeks -which the Raiders probably wouldn't have complained about - but would have been extremely unfavorable for the Chiefs.
The crew works hard to make the most favorable TV schedule they can, giving the networks as many of their asks as possible, but the schedule will never be perfect. As MMQB states, "no schedule makes 32 teams and the TV networks universally happy."
A schedule can seem perfect until it's realized that one team has three straight road games heading into a Thursday night game. That schedule gets scrapped and they try again. It's a long, laborious process, but Katz and his crew work diligently to provide the best possible results.
The schedule team has been working on the 2015 NFL schedule for months and will unveil their work in the coming week.
Will the Raiders begin at home or on the road? Will they face their division rivals early or late?
Only Katz and his crew know today. We'll all know soon.