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Key 2010 games are expected to be announced on Monday

Though the official 2010 regular-season schedule won’t be unveiled until April, the annual league meetings traditionally feature a partial lifting of the tarp.

Specifically, we’ll learn -- most likely on Monday -- the participants in the prime-time games to be played during Week One and the three games to be played on Thanksgiving.

We already know that the season will begin with the Saints hosting a game on Thursday, September 9. With Steelers president Art Rooney II saying last week that his team won’t be the road team, the only other compelling opponent on the Superdome slate is the Vikings.

The early Monday night game will be hosted by the Jets. If recent trends hold, it will be an AFC East foe. Our guess is that it’ll be the Dolphins.

The late Monday night game, if history applies, will feature a West Coast team hosting a division rival. We think the Seahawks would be the best choice, given Pete Carroll’s return to the NFL. The 49ers or the Cardinals would be the most likely opponents. We’ll guess Cardinals, given that likely Arizona quarterback Matt Leinart played for Carroll at USC.

For Thanksgiving, the Jets reportedly will host the prime-time game, which means that the Lions will host the Patriots in the first contest of the day. The Cowboys will host the late afternoon game. We think the visiting team will be the Bears -- we’d prefer that it be the Saints.

A day from now, we’ll likely have answers to these questions. In the interim, hit the F5 button. Repeatedly.