One indication NFL is confident 2011 season will be played

Is the NFL lockout causing you to have trouble sleeping at night?

Has food lost its taste? Are you unable to see colors or get out of bed in the morning, knowing that there's a chance that NFL games will not be played this upcoming season?

Well, I might have something for you to calm your nerves just a tad, bring you back in off that ledge, and give you reason to believe that there will be a full 2011 season when fall rolls around.

As you're probably aware by now, the NFL released its regular season schedule yesterday. As you're also probably aware, the Ravens are scheduled to take on the Steelers in Week 1 at M&T Bank Stadium.

This game is one of the NFL's most eagerly-anticipated contests, even outside of the Baltimore and Pittsburgh areas. It's often put in prime time (as it will be Week 9, when the Ravens face the Steelers at Heinz Field on Sunday Night Football), and the league promotes the heck out of the AFC North rivalry leading up to kickoff.

Seeing as how this is one of the league's biggest moneymaking, interest-driving games, would the schedule-makers put it in the Week 1 slot if they were genuinely concerned that the lockout could carry into the season and cause a couple games to be missed?

I'll answer my own question. No, I don't think they would have.

The labor situation is tenuous right now, for sure. But if those in the league office truly believe that there's a chance that games could be missed, you would think that they would backload the schedule a bit, and put their big-ticket games toward the end of the season.

Of course, this might just be a case of me trying to find optimism in any situation and looking at things from a glass half-full perspective. The labor mess might not have played a factor in the schedule at all.

But for those of you looking for hope, this is something you might be able to hang your hopeful hat on.

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