Pro Football Talk has noted an espn2 listing indicates the NFL schedule release is coming Tuesday and that TV Guide has a two-hour SportsCenter Schedule Release Special set to be broadcast on espn2 at 7:00 pm ET on Tuesday, April 19.

Though PFT has earned a reputation for not always being factual – their tagline is “latest news and rumors” for good reason – this sounds like it may actually be factual.  It should be noted however that in past years that the initial listings of when the schedule would be announced ended up being incorrect, with the announcement eventually ending up on a different day.

I’ll be curious to see both how this event is handled by the NFL, and how fans react to it since there is a lockout in place.  Will the NFL try to keep it very low-key, rather than possibly incite a backlash for the hypocrisy of celebrating something that is as of this moment in time not going to happen?  Or will they plow ahead unfazed, in their endeavor to keep their fans’ interest twelve months of the year?  More interesting will be how much of a dropoff there will be interest to this announcement by fans in comparison to the last few years.  That may give a hint of a possible dropoff of interest and ratings in this month’s draft.

When you stop and think about it, it is pretty amazing that the NFL and espn have been able to transform what was – and arguably still should be – nothing more than a press release into a two-hour primetime network special.  Though the order of games is unknown, we knew back in January who would be on the Patriots’ 2011 schedule:

Home Games:

  • New York Jets (11-5)
  • Indianapolis Colts (10-6)
  • Kansas City Chiefs (10-6)
  • New York Giants (10-6)
  • San Diego Chargers (9-7)
  • Miami Dolphins (7-9)
  • Dallas Cowboys (6-10)
  • Buffalo Bills (4-12)

Away Games:

  • Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4)
  • New York Jets (11-5)
  • Philadelphia Eagles (10-6)
  • Oakland Raiders (8-8)
  • Miami Dolphins (7-9)
  • Washington Redskins (6-10)
  • Buffalo Bills (4-12)
  • Denver Broncos (4-12)