The NFL has used a basic rotational system for determining the opponents on each team’s schedule since the league went to the eight-division format prior to the 2002 season.
Each division faces a division from the same conference and a division from the other conference. The NFL also matches up teams from the same conference who finished in the same spot in their division standings but aren’t already on the schedule for the following year.
Based on the rotation, we already knew it was the NFC North’s turn to be matched up with the NFC South and AFC East but the league made it official with the release of their annual record and fact book.
The Lions’ 2014 opponents look like this:
Home: Green Bay, Chicago, Minnesota, New Orleans, Tampa Bay, Buffalo, Miami, NFC East team
Away: Green Bay, Chicago, Minnesota, Atlanta, Carolina, New England, New York Jets, NFC West team
Assuming the policy to alternate AFC and NFC opponents on Thanksgiving Day continues, that leaves the Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills as the choices. That is how the opponents set up for the 2006 season when the Joey Harrington-led Dolphins gave the Lions a Thanksgiving Day defeat. The Dolphins figure to be the better bet to end up as the Lions opponent on Thanksgiving Day 2014.