NFL's final week only division games

Updated: April 20, 2010, 3:52 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

The National Football League has scheduled exclusively division games for the final week of the 2010 regular season, commissioner Roger Goodell told ESPN Radio's "Mike & Mike in the Morning" on Tuesday.

The full 2010 schedule will be released Tuesday night (7 ET, ESPN2).

Goodell reminded hosts Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic that in a previous appearance on the show, he said he intended to push as many division games as possible into the last three weeks of the season.

"We actually have 28 divisional games in those last three weeks, as opposed to 15 for the 2009 season, and all 16 of the final Week 17 games will be divisional games," Goodell said on "Mike & Mike in the Morning."

"We'll see what the impact is as we go through the next season, but we think that's a positive development in keeping the integrity of the game in those late-season games," Goodell said.

At the end of last season, Goodell expressed concern about teams that already have clinched division titles tanking games at the end of the season to rest their players for the playoffs.

Goodell revealed another piece of the schedule in an online chat Tuesday with fans on nfl.com, announcing that the Minnesota Vikings and New Orleans Saints will open the season in a rematch of the 2009 NFC Championship Game.

"I know I will get in trouble from our scheduling makers for releasing this in advance, but the Saints will be hosting the Minnesota Vikings for our kickoff game. It should be a great celebration in a great city," Goodell said in the chat.

The release of this year's schedule was delayed as the NFL considered whether to put more division games toward the end of the season.

"We have a responsibility to our fans to put the highest-quality product out on the field," Goodell said on the radio show. "If this doesn't have the kind of impact we want, we're going to find three or four other things to try to have the same kind of outcome ... but it is a difficult issue."

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