2010-11 NFL Schedule To Be Released Tuesday Night

April 20th, 2010-  By Bryan Cross

The 2010-11 NFL schedule is set to be released Tuesday, with a notable change courtesy of commissioner Roger Goodell.

Goodell said in an interview on ESPN’s “Mike & Mike In the Morning” that the final week of the regular season will only feature division games.  Every team in the league will be matched up with a division opponent.

Goodell had been on record previously that it was his intention to try and implement more division games over the last three weeks of the season, to promote playoffs pushes and place an emphasis of importance on the home-stretch of the season.

“We actually have 28 divisional games in those last three weeks, as opposed to 15 for the 2009 season, and all 16 of the final Week 17 games will be divisional games,” Goodell said on the radio show.

“We’ll see what the impact is as we go through the next season, but we think that’s a positive development in keeping the integrity of the game in those late-season games,” Goodell continued.

The reasoning behind the division games stems from teams that have clinched divisions and playoff positions and playing back up players against teams in a fight for playoffs in the last couple of weeks of the season.

One example from the last season was when the Indianapolis Colts sported an undefeated record before facing the New York Jets in the second-to-last week of the year.  The Jets were in a tight playoff battle, but were the recipient of good fortune as the Colts elected to play their back-up players for the final three quarters of the game, and were the first team to defeat them all season.

New York then went on to earn a wild-card playoff berth and reach the AFC title game, where they met Indianapolis again.  This time, the Colts played their starters and took the conference crown, advancing to Super Bowl XLIV, losing to New Orleans.

Goodell hopes that the increase in division games in the final weeks of the year will encourage teams to not throw in the towel, and also keep fan excitement.

“We have a responsibility to our fans to put the highest-quality product out on the field,” Goodell said on the radio show. “If this doesn’t have the kind of impact we want, we’re going to find three or four other things to try to have the same kind of outcome. But it is a difficult issue.”

This is a big week for the NFL, with the schedule being released Tuesday night, and then the NFL Draft on Thursday in prime-time for the first time ever.  The St. Louis Rams have the No.1 overall selection, and have not yet committed, or are letting known their intentions for the top pick.  Quarterback Sam Bradford and defensive end Ndamukong Suh are the top-two candidates that NFL analysts believe the Rams organization will be considering.

The 2010-11 NFL season begins on September 9, with Indianapolis the favorite to win Super Bowl XLV on USA Online Sportsbooks.

NFL Kickoff Weekend begins Thursday September 9, with New Orleans matching up against Minnesota in the first game of the year.

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