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How the Cardinals finish 2018 could be big for the 49ers schedule in 2019

The formula for next season’s opponents offers some midseason insight.

The NFL uses a basic formula for figuring out each team’s opponents, which means even thought the schedule is not released until April, we’ll know by the end of this season all 13 opponents the San Francisco 49ers will face in 2019. The team faces their divisional opponents twice, faces one division from the AFC, one full division in the NFC, and then the two teams from the other NFC divisions that finish in the same spot in the standings.

In 2019, the 49ers will face the NFC South and AFC North. That leaves the NFC East and NFC North teams that finish in the same spot as them. Heading into Week 11, the 49ers are in last place, a half game back of the Arizona Cardinals. The 49ers are on their bye, but even if the Cardinals lose to the Raiders, they would hold the head-to-head lead over San Francisco.

The New York Giants and Detroit Lions are currently in last place in the NFC East and NFC North, respectively. Even with seven games remaining for each of those two teams, both seem to be the likely last place finishers. The Giants are two games back of the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys, while the Lions are 1.5 games back of the Green Bay Packers.

I would be much happier with games against Detroit and New York than Green Bay and Philadelphia or Dallas. My guess is Arizona beats Oakland this weekend to maintain what is effectively a two-game lead at the bottom of the division (thanks to the tie-breaker).

Home: Seahawks, Rams, Cardinals, Falcons, Panthers, Browns, Steelers, NFC North

Away: Seahawks, Rams, Cardinals, Saints, Buccaneers, Ravens, Bengals, NFC East