As the date for the release of the 2011 NFL schedule approached, I began to wonder whether the league would load up the first two or three weeks of the season with stinkers, in the event the lockout lasts into the regular season.
Now that the schedule is out, one thing is clear. The possibility of missed games didn’t cause the NFL to miss a step when laying out the games.
The bad news, of course, is that we now can see what we stand to lose if they can’t get this done.
And it starts right away. Saints-Packers to start the season. Steelers-Ravens, Colts-Texans, Falcons-Bears, Giants-Redskins, Cowboys-Jets on the first Sunday. All gone, if the lockout isn’t resolved.
Losing the second week of the season wouldn’t be as bad, with Eagles-Falcons clearly the marquee game and, frankly, no others that cry out as must-see TV. (OK, maybe Chargers-Patriots. But the Chargers typically don’t wake up until October.)
If the lockout lasts into Week Three, we’d lose Giants-Eagles, Steelers-Colts, and Redskins-Cowboys.
A fourth week would wipe out Jets-Ravens. There’s no other game that strikes a national chord. (Of course, there could be several games with a pair of 3-0 teams, which would make them a lot more relevant.)
A lockout that eats up five weeks would result in a Packers-Falcons rematch going away — and in the Lions losing their first Monday night game since the first year of the Millen era.
Bottom line? Intentionally or not, the league has loaded up Week One, and that should give both sides every incentive to get something done sooner rather than later.