Shutdown Corner - NFL

Are you excited for the release of the 2011 NFL schedule? Many people aren't, and it's hard to blame them — at the same time the league is locking the players out and putting the game's future in peril, and the players provide equally unsympathetic targets to most fans, it's tough to get geared up about games that might not even happen, Still, we're of the "any port in a storm" school of thought, which means that even the thought of games happening and matchups to discuss is interesting enough to discuss. So, at the risk of excluding reality for a few minutes, here are some of the more intriguing games that … uh … may or may not actually occur in the 2010 season.

(Note: You can view the entire schedule here)

Thursday, September 8 —Saints at Packers

The last two Super Bowl champions face off in what should be a very cool matchup … at least, we hope it is. Aaron Rodgers(notes) and Drew Brees(notes) trying to carve up two of the league's more creative defenses … well, that would be a treat.

The rest of week 1 is as notable for what it doesn't' feature — a Giants-Jets game on Sunday, September 11. Nope. The Giants travel to Washington D.C. for a Sunday afternoon game, and the Jets host the Cowboys on the Sunday night opener.

Sunday, September 18 — Eagles at Falcons

Vick Bowl!

Sunday, September 25 — Steelers at Colts

A great SNF matchup between the teams that have represented the AFC in five of the last six Super Bowls.

Sunday, October 2 — Jets at Ravens

Between Rex Ryan, Bart Scott(notes), and Ray Lewis(notes), this should be a quote festival. Of course, Rex used to run the Ravens' defense to perfection.

Sunday, October 9 — Jets at Patriots

The Pats get a shot at revenge against the team that shocked them out of their Super Bowl run.

Sunday October 16 — Saints at Buccaneers

The Saints held their heads up last season, but the Bucs came out of nowhere as one of the NFL's surprise teams. This will be their first major test of the young season.

Sunday, October 23 — Colts at Saints

Bucs-Bears at Wembley Stadium is always a big story, but rarely a great game. We'll take this Super Bowl rematch from two seasons ago.

Sunday, October 30 — Patriots at Steelers

At some point, if the Pats want to break out of a Lombardi Trophy slump that goes back a number of years, they're going to have to play smashmouth away from home. What better place?

Sunday, November 6 — Ravens at Steelers

Giants-Pats provides a Super Bowl XLII rematch, but Steelers-Ravens has become the NFL's best rivalry, and it's one we always look forward to.

Thursday, November 10 — Raiders at Chargers

What's the big deal here? Well, according to the reports, this is the Thursday in which all our long national nightmares are over — a TNF broadcast without Matt Millen, Joe Theismann, or Bryant Gumbel. Mike Mayock instead? Yes, there was much rejoicing.

Sunday, November 20 — Eagles at Giants

Note to New York's special teams coach: Do not punt to DeSean Jackson(notes) late in the game. We're not saying, we're just saying…

Thursday, November 24 — Packers at Lions, Dolphins at Cowboys, 49ers at Ravens

Mmmmm. Pass the gravy!

Sunday, December 4 — Colts at Patriots

The old chestnut is back, and it still has a lot of meaning. Amazing, when you think about it.

Sunday, December 11 — Bears at Broncos

If Jay Cutler(notes) is ever to get over that case of sensy-poo and rabbit ears, now would be the time, as he heads back to the place of his first NFL success.

Sunday, December 18 — Seahawks at Bears

The Seahawks have slipped into the playoffs a few times in the last few years, and the Bears have squashed their last two opportunities. Is it time for revenge?

Sunday, December 25 — Bears at Packers

Most of the games are on Saturday of this week, but what's better than NFL tradition on Christmas night?

Sunday, January 1 — Buccaneers at Falcons

If things go the way they did last year, this might be a fight for a division title.

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