The 2011 NFL football schedules were released on Tuesday and have been posted. The regular season kicks off on Thursday, September 8 when the defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers host the New Orleans Saints (8:30 p.m. ET – NBC).
On Sunday, August 7, the NFL preseason kicks off when the Chicago Bears face the St. Louis Rams in the Hall of Fame Game at Fawcett Stadium in Canton, Ohio (8:00 p.m. ET – NBC).
The first Sunday features several high-profile games, including Indianapolis at Houston and Atlanta at Chicago. But much of the national focus will be on Washington and New York, the cities most affected by the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The Redskins and Giants kick off at 4:15 p.m. ET, with the Jets and Cowboys at 8:20 p.m. ET.
The Pittsburgh Steelers also will play on Sept. 11, visiting the Baltimore Ravens. Pittsburgh is just 80 miles from the site near Shanksville, Pa., where Flight 93 crashed on Sept. 11, 2011.
New England travels to Miami, and Oakland visits Denver on the opening Monday night.
The final Sunday of the regular season falls on New Year’s Day, when all 16 scheduled games are between division rivals, enhancing the potential for playoff ramifications.
The regular season covers 17 weeks, with the opening round of the playoffs scheduled for Jan. 7-8, 2012, and the Super Bowl on Feb. 5, 2012, in Indianapolis.
Among other schedule highlights, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will face the Chicago Bears at Wembley Stadium on Oct. 23, one of two games outside the United States and the fifth consecutive year the NFL has played a regular-season game in suburban London.
The Buffalo Bills will play a game in Canada for the fourth consecutive season, playing host to the Redskins on Oct. 30 at Rogers Centre in Toronto. The Bills have a deal with Rogers Communications through 2012 to play five regular-season games in Canada’s largest city.
The Thanksgiving Day games are Packers at Detroit, Miami at Dallas and San Francisco at Baltimore, with new 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh facing Ravens coach John Harbaugh in the first meeting between sibling head coaches in NFL history.
The Packers play the Bears in the only Christmas Day game. There are 13 games scheduled for Dec. 24, including the Giants against the Jets.
The NFL will again use “flexible scheduling” for Weeks 10 through 15 and the final week of the regular season, allowing the league to move the start times for select games.
Listed below are direct links to the 2011 NFL schedules: