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2011 NFL Schedule: Questions and risk about the NFL's make up plan

That's a lot of football to cram into a season in case of a late start.
That's a lot of football to cram into a season in case of a late start.

The St. Louis Rams have a pretty tough 2011 schedule. The most difficult stretch might be the season's opening month, with road games with Philadelphia, New York and Baltimore all lined up for the first three weeks, followed by a rematch with Washington in week four.

However, should the NFL lockout persist long enough to eat into the season, the league built some flexibility into the 2011 NFL schedule that could change the dynamic of the Rams' start to the season. Teams playing each other in week 3 - the Rams play at home against Baltimore - share the same bye week. If the lockout bleeds that far into the schedule, the Rams would play the Ravens in week 5, the bye week for both teams. The first two games of the season - home against Philadelphia and on the road (tentatively set for a Monday night) against the New York Giants - would be tacked onto the end of the season, with the Super Bowl getting pushed back by a week to Feb. 12.

So, think about this in terms of the Rams' schedule. If the lockout goes on that long, they'd open the season with a very winnable home game against Washington, as week 4 would become week 1 in that scenario. The next week, they'd be making up a game against the Ravens, at home. The week after they'd be on the road in Green Bay with the rest of the schedule as is...until "week 18."

The regular season would finish with a home game against the Eagles and a road game against the Giants. From here, that looks like a tougher end, but one the Rams should be up for. Remember, teams will be losing their bye weeks in this scenario, playing 16 games in 16 weeks. That's a tall order for any team, even with the deepest rosters.

Obviously, this represents a pretty extreme scenario. Most don't think the lockout will drag on that long. But you never know what could happen. The idea of cramming 16 games an extending the season by just one week seems to fly in the face of the NFL's stated concern for player safety. And how would football look without training camp, not just in terms of getting young players up to speed but for the conditioning time? Players can spend all the time they want in the gym, but it's a far cry from putting pads on and going full-contact. They'd have to have some sort of conditioning program before starting the season.

Add it to the list of issues to be sorted out before we can start talking about the schedule with a little more belief that it might actually happen.