It's schedule day in the NFL

April, 19, 2011
Tuesday is somewhat of a national holiday in the NFC South and throughout the National Football League.

This is the day the NFL will announce its schedule for the 2011 regular season. Actually playing that regular season, of course, will be contingent on a new labor agreement being worked out. But the league is proceeding with business as usual on the scheduling end.

The announcement is coming at 7 p.m. ET, and as soon as I have a chance to process the schedule, I’ll have full analysis on the slate for each of the four NFC South teams. That should be up soon after 7 p.m.

For those who don’t remember which opponents each team is supposed to face, you can get the complete listing for each team by clicking here.

We already know the Buccaneers are scheduled to “host’’ an Oct. 23 game with the Chicago Bears in London. That’s not a prime-time game, but it’s definitely a showcase game. It should be interesting to see how the Bucs and the rest of the NFC South fares when it comes to prime-time games.

My guess -- and this is only a guess -- is that the New Orleans Saints will get the Thursday night game to open the season against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. It makes too much sense not to have the last two Super Bowl champions open the season against one another. I’ll also guess the Saints get two other prime-time games.

I’ll put the Falcons in the same category and guess that they end up with three prime-time games. They were 13-3 last season, have a quarterback with national appeal (Matt Ryan) and a receiver capable of starting a Twitter controversy (Roddy White) at any time. I'll also guess and say that at least one of the two meetings between the Saints and Falcons will be shown in prime time, and we'll see if Remi Ayodele and his New Orleans teammates do any postgame logo dancing.

The Bucs? Well, that’s a tough one to call. They went 10-6 last season and appear to be a young team on the rise. They’re also a team with attendance problems at home. I’ll speculate and say the Bucs get one prime-time appearance and I’m guessing it will be on the road. I'm also hearing the Bucs still are a very legitimate candidate to be featured on HBO's "Hard Knocks'' this summer, assuming there is labor peace and training camp.

As far as the Panthers, I doubt the league will be giving any prime-time games to a team that went 2-14 last season fans. Carolina fans will probably be looking at a lot of 1 p.m. ET kickoffs.

Pat Yasinskas | email

ESPN Tampa Bay Buccaneers reporter



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