<
>

Must-know nuggets for 2011 NFL schedule

Outside of the NFL Draft later this month, non-legal NFL talk will be at a premium, so you can't blame us if we wanted to share our best schedule-related nuggets.

You need to know the Cardinals, Bills, Panthers, Bengals and Titans are the only teams that won't play any prime-time games. And the team with the easiest season-closing stretch is the Patriots (.328 opponents' 2010 win percentage in Weeks 14-17).

Here's our divisional breakdown:

AFC West

- From Week 11-15, the Chiefs will face the team with the best 2010 regular-season record (Patriots) and then four teams that played in the 2010 Conference Championship Games (Steelers, Bears, Jets, Packers).

- This will be the fourth time in six seasons the Raiders will open the season on Monday night (0-3 in those games).

AFC East

- The Patriots open on the road for the fourth time under Bill Belichick. They've reached the Super Bowl each of the previous three times (2001, 2003, 2007).

- The Jets, who will face the NFC East, have lost two straight vs. the Cowboys, four straight vs. the Redskins, four straight vs. the Giants and are 0-8 all-time against the Eagles.

- Patriots and Colts play in regular season for ninth straight season (4-4 head to head).

AFC North

- The Ravens and Steelers met three times last year and will meet twice by Week 9 this season.

- Ravens head coach John Harbaugh will coach opposite his brother, 49ers head coach Jim, in Week 12. It will be the first game between sibling head coaches in league history.

AFC South

- The Colts are on the road three straight weeks (Weeks 6-8) but then don't leave home for a month (9, 10, 12 at home with a bye Week 11).

- The Titans will travel 7,000 miles this season, fewest in the league.

NFC West

- According to NFL.com, the 49ers will travel over 29,000 miles this season, most for any team. The schedule includes trips to Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Detroit, Washington and Baltimore.

- The Rams have two Monday night dates for the first time since 2004.

NFC East

- The Giants and Cowboys will play twice in last four weeks of season.

- The Cowboys have three home games in an 18-day stretch in November (Weeks 9, 10 and 12).

- Between Weeks 7 and 12 the Eagles have one just one road game, and it's in New Jersey just 95 miles away.

NFC South

- The Saints will play in the first game of the season for the third time in the past five seasons (lost to Colts in 2007 and beat Vikings in 2010).

- The Buccaneers will play in London for second time in three seasons (lost to Patriots in 2009).

NFC North

- The Packers host the Saints in the season opener. The defending Super Bowl champs are 7-0 in kickoff games since they began hosting them in 2004.

- The Bears have just three true road games in the first 11 weeks of the season (six home games, a bye and the London game). The downside of that is there's only two games at Soldier Field in the last six weeks.

- The Lions play a Monday night game for first time since 2001 (which was a 35-0 loss to St. Louis).