September 9, 2010 at 2:32 am

Tim Twentyman: NFL Insider

Scheduling conspiracy? Nope, NFL officials aren't trying to make Lions any worse

Jim Schwartz leads a Lions franchise that hasn't won a road game since Oct. 28, 2007 (16-7, Bears). (Daniel Mears/The Detroit News)

The NFL didn't do the Lions any favors with their schedule this season.

The Lions, who won two games last season, have the 12th toughest schedule this season, with opponents compiling a 130-126 record (.508 percentage) in 2009.

But contrary to popular belief, the NFL doesn't have a grudge against the Lions.

Scheduling is prepared using a rotating formula:

  • Six divisional games (three home and three away).

  • Four games against another division within the conference on a rotational basis (two home and two away). That means teams will play each team within that division a minimum of once every three years, and guaranteed to play that team at home once every six years.
  • Four games against a division in the opposite conference on a rotational basis (two home and two away). Teams will play each team within that division once every four years, and are guaranteed to play that team at home once every eight years.

  • Two games against teams in the same conference with the same previous season mark and are not scheduled by virtue of other scenarios (one home and one away).

    So, looking at the Lions schedule:

  • Six games (home and away) against the NFC North (Chicago, Minnesota and Green Bay).

  • Four games against the NFC East (NFC North's intra-divisional opponent). Detroit plays at Dallas and the N.Y. Giants and hosts Washington and Philadelphia.

  • Four games against the AFC East, the NFC North's inter-divisional opponent. Detroit hosts the toughest teams (New England and N.Y. Jets) at plays at Buffalo and Miami.

  • Two games against teams in the same conference with the same previous season mark.

    Because Detroit had the second-worst record in the NFC at 2-14, it hosts St. Louis (1-15) and plays at Tampa Bay (3-13).

    "We just show up and play whoever's on the schedule at what time they tell us to," Lions coach Jim Schwartz said.

    He's definitely ready to get the season going.

    "Now the fun begins," he said. "The only thing that matters now is how we go forward."

    Mix it up

    Lions intra- and inter-conference opponents the next three seasons:

    Division/ Intraconference/ Interconference

    2011

    NFC North/NFC South/AFC West

    2012

    NFC North/NFC West/AFC South

    2013

    NFC North/NFC East/AFC North

    By the numbers

    8: Times since 1967 the previous year's Super Bowl champion repeated

    15-1: Peyton Manning's career record vs. the Texans, the Colts' opening-week opponent

    111,853: Passing yards in the NFL last season, the highest in history

    He said it

    "We're the Miami Heat of football."

    Antonio Cromartie, Jets cornerback, in the New York Daily News

    ttwentyman@detnews.com">ttwentyman@detnews.com