Please play: The NFL schedule comes out |

Please play: The NFL schedule comes out

I feel like Steve Martin in “The Jerk” yelling, “The new phone books are here!” The new phone books are here!”

The NFL schedule came out, and the league does still have a sense of humor. Michael Vick and the Eagles head to Atlanta in Week 2 and, yes, Jay Cutler and Da Bears are coming to Denver in Week 15. That should be a fun reception for Jay.

But will it happen?

The owners locked out the players March 12, and both sides are in court-ordered mediation. But there is no motivation for either side to move quickly here. The owners won’t feel any pain until August when, if the status quo is maintained, they start to lose money on canceled preseason games. The players won’t feel it in their wallets until September when they would get their paychecks.

If we get to either of these points without a settlement, we’re likely looking at losing regular season games.

Another important fact here is that the first Sunday of the season is the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. It behooves neither side for the NFL to be idle on that day. That looks terrible.

In fact, if you open your labor-history textbooks, baseball nearly had a strike in 2002, and one of contributing factors to a settlement was that both sides of the divide decided that having America’s pastime on the shelf on the one-year anniversary of the attacks was not the wisest course.

Here’s hoping that we’ve got football come fall, and with that, some schedule highlights:

• For the Broncos fan in your life, well, Week 1 is the back end of the Monday Night Football doubleheader, and it’s the Raiders in Denver. Commence to enjoy. The Broncos’ other prime time appearance is a Thursday nighter in November when the Jets come to town. Which Jets show up is another question? The ones who went to the AFC Championship or the ones who got smacked by New England during the regular season? While the Jets are hard to figure. Rex Ryan ought to be good for some laughs.

• Will anyone else think it’s a coincidence if Cutler comes up gimpy at halftime during his return? Yes, that’s a complete cheap shot. I’m sorry. Sort of. Not really.

• Mark November on the calendar: The Broncos play three divisional road games in four weeks – at Oakland, at Kansas City, home for the Jets and at San Diego.

• The Dallas Cowboys are on prime time five times, not including their traditional Thanksgiving Day game. Bad, NFL.

• The Minnesota Vikings open at San Diego. I only mention this because I will only believe that Brett Favre is truly retired if he is not playing in this game.

• Toughest schedule by the 2010 record of opponents goes to … Carolina? That ain’t right. Ouch.

• Easiest schedule? Arizona. That sounds right.

• By the way, the NFL wised up and did not have the Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers play on Monday Night Football again. My San Francisco partisanship is well-known, but that’s been a dog of a game the last few years on prime time.

• Brrr: Bears at Packers Christmas night at Lambeau.

• Worst Monday Night Football game: Week 14, Rams at Seahawks. Hopefully, one of these teams will be over .500. (Steelers at Niners the next week isn’t far behind. Yeesh. Jim Harbaugh’s going to be wishing he’s back at Stanford by that point.)

• Best MNF game: Giants at Saints, Week 12.

• Worst Sunday Night game: Week 6, Vikings at Bears. Does NBC think Favre is coming out of retirement? Take the under on this game.

• Best Sunday Night game: Many good choices, but it’s Ravens at Steelers in Week 9. Take the under in this game, too.

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or

Broncos 2011

Sept. 12 Oakland, 8:15 p.m.

Sept. 18 Cincinnati, 2:15 p.m.

Sept. 25 at Tennessee, 11 a.m.

Oct. 2 at Green Bay, 3:15 p.m.

Oct. 9 San Diego, 3:15 p.m.

Oct. 16 BYE

Oct. 23 at Miami, 11 a.m.

Oct. 30 Detroit, 2:05 p.m.

Nov. 6 at Oakland, 2:05 p.m.

Nov. 13 at Kansas City, 11 a.m.

Nov. 17 N.Y. Jets, 6:20 p.m.

Nov. 27 at San Diego, 2:15 p.m.

Dec. 4 at Minnesota, 2:05 p.m.

Dec. 11 Chicago, 2:05 p.m.

Dec. 18 New England, 2:15 p.m.

Dec. 24 at Buffalo, 11 a.m.

Jan. 1 Kansas City, 2:15 p.m.

Support Local Journalism