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Sweating out the schedule

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2010 Week 17 To Feature Division Games (1:04)

Roger Goodell announces all 2010 Week 17 games will be played within the division (1:04)

Don't fret. Not one bit. The NFL's 2010 schedule release party, which begins at 7 p.m. ET, will receive national holiday-style coverage here on ESPN.com. I'll have analysis of each NFC North schedule quicker than you can say: "The season is only five months away!"

Here are a few Black and Blue items to keep in mind as we approach the announcement:

  • Commissioner Roger Goodell told ESPN Radio that all 32 teams will play a division opponent in Week 17. A total of 28 divisional games will take place in the final three weeks of the season. Goodell hopes that dynamic will prevent teams from resting their starters for the playoffs; ostensibly, games should be more likely to impact postseason status and/or seeding.

  • Opponents were determined in January. I've re-published those at the bottom of the post. The same goes for the annual strength-of-schedule chart, which I pass along even though I've noted I'm not a big believer in its significance.

  • When we last discussed the schedule, we were considering the possibility that three NFC North teams could play on Thanksgiving Day. We'll see if that is indeed the case.

  • There continues to be rampant speculation that Minnesota will open its regular season at New Orleans. Via Twitter, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy encouraged fans to press Goodell on the subject during an NFL.com chat (2 p.m. ET).

2010 Opponents:

Minnesota Vikings

Home: NFC North, Dallas, New York Giants, Buffalo, Miami, Arizona

Away: NFC North, Philadelphia, Washington, New England, New York Jets, New Orleans

Green Bay Packers

Home: NFC North, Dallas, New York Giants, Buffalo, Miami, San Francisco

Away: NFC North, Philadelphia, Washington, New England, New York Jets, Atlanta

Chicago Bears

Home: NFC North, Philadelphia, Washington, New England, New York Jets, Seattle

Away: NFC North, Dallas, New York Giants, Buffalo, Miami, Carolina

Detroit Lions

Home: NFC North, Philadelphia, Washington, New England, New York Jets, St. Louis

Away: NFC North, Dallas, New York Giants, Buffalo, Miami, Tampa Bay