The NFL schedule will be released tonight at 7:00 p.m. ET. We’ll break it down soon after that, but here’s a little preview…

Opening night

The Super Bowl champion Packers will host somebody at Lambeau on the opening Thursday night on NBC. It probably boils down to two potential opponents: Chicago and New Orleans. On one hand, the Saints are probably a bigger challenge for Green Bay. But on the other hand, the league might be disinclined to give New Orleans back-to-back Thursday night openers. Plus, the Bears and Pack met in the NFC championship game last year. I’m betting they renew the rivalry to start the season.

The 9/11 anniversary game

If the regular season starts on time, the opening Sunday will mark the 10-year anniversary of 9/11. Naturally, everyone’s assuming that the Jets and Giants will play their once-a-quadrennial game on that night. Can’t even imagine the emotions. But don’t count out the Redskins. There’s a chance Washington has requested to play in that game, since the city was also a target on 9/11. If that’s the case, the Giants would likely host the ‘Skins. (Washington is slated to host the Jets in 2011, but it’s unlikely the league lets that game escape New York.)

The Toronto game

Earlier today, Tomlinson relayed a report stating that the Eagles would be coming to Toronto to play the Bills in November. And unsurprisingly, it looks as though that report was incorrect. So let’s look at the contenders. Divisional rivals Miami and the Jets have already come north of the border and I don’t think the Bills would let the Patriots escape Orchard Park. Without the Eagles, that leaves Denver, Oakland, Tennessee and Washington. I’d bet on the ‘Skins.

The London game

They’ve already announced it’ll be Bears-Buccaneers (unless we don’t have a CBA by Aug. 1) but who cares?

The games that should be in prime time

Colts at Patriots: It’s becoming a yearly tradition on national television. This will mark the ninth straight season in which the two will meet.

Cowboys at Patriots: Just a sexy inter-conference matchup. Fox will do everything to keep this game in the late Sunday afternoon slot.

Cowboys at Jets: Ditto.

Colts at Saints: A Super Bowl XLIV rematch from the Superdome.

Bears at Broncos: Jay Cutler’s return to Denver.

Buccaneers at Packers: I love this game, mainly because I think it’s the team of the future against the team of now.

The bottom line

Without free agency and the draft, it’s tough to find juicy storylines pertaining to specific games. If, for example, Donovan McNabb returns to Washington as a Viking or Carson Palmer returns to Cincinnati as a Cardinal or Matt Hasselbeck returns to Seattle as a Redskin, then you have great prime-time stories.

This is yet another way in which the work stoppage is screwing fans.