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football already?

Eat Your Turkey While Watching Rex Ryan

If you doubt the NFL's psychological (if not necessarily financial) stranglehold on the sports populace, note that the mere releasing of the schedule is a big news story. The NFL schedule is our nation's most inherently interesting Microsoft Outlook Calendar, an agenda of violence, alcohol, and face-painting. Let's take a dip, shall we?

The first real question: Who do the Giants get to celebrate their coin-flip-winning ways by opening Giants Stadium against? The answer is the Carolina Panthers, the team that destroyed the old stadium at the end of last year. That's not a prime-time game, but the Giants have (at least, considering flex scheduling) four: three on NBC's Sunday Night Football (at Indianapolis and Philadelphia, home against Chicago) and one on ESPN's Monday Night Football (at Dallas, on October 25). If there's a playoff bid on the line late, the Giants will do it right after the new year at Washington and (presumably) Donovan McNabb.

The Jets have five nationally televised games, though only if you count the NFL Network as a national network, which we're not sure you should. The Jets open the season on Monday Night Football at Baltimore, and they'll also play on ESPN at home against Minnesota (including, potentially, former Jet Brett Favre) and at New England. Perhaps most fun: They play on Thanksgiving night, at home against Cincinnati. So you can eat all day, head out to the Meadowlands, watch some football, and then just stay out and wait for the stores to open at 5 a.m. for Black Friday. That sounds like a fun day.

It's worth noting that the Thanksgiving game is listed by MJD at Shutdown Corner as one of the five potential worst prime-time games of the upcoming season. Not that your food coma will wake you up to care.

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Photo: Al Pereira/Getty Images