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Bears in TO?

(UPDATED) The NFL schedule is expected to be released either Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday of next week. (It was released on a Tuesday last year.)

Upon further consideration, the guess here is the NFL will ship Chicago to Toronto for the Bills' regular-season game in the Rogers Center. It's a pretty safe bet it won't be Miami or the Jets, which already have played there.

That leaves New England, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Detroit and Jacksonville. It would be good for the Bills' business relationship with the Rogers Corp. if the NFL put a marquee team up there, since the last two regular-season games in Toronto have been less than thrilling. The initial sense was Pittsburgh might make the most sense. But now indications are the Bears would be a better bet to make the trip north of the border.

It's also a decent bet that the game will be earlier in the season rather than later. If it's later in the season, the risk is higher that the Bills will be out of the title hunt. Prime opportunities for early-season games in Toronto are Week 3 (Sept. 26) and Week 5 (Oct. 10) of the NFL season.

The Toronto Argonauts are out of town on Sept. 26. It's an Argos home game, but it's in Moncton, New Brunswick, which is a test market for CFL expansion. The game is at noon. That game is likely to be the Argos' biggest fully-paid gate of the 2010 season. Moncton fans bought 20,000 tickets in 32 hours. The Argos are out of town the weekend of Oct. 9-10.

The NFL is expected to have the final regular-season week of play feature all intra-divisional games. It would be neat to see a Bills-Dolphins game in Orchard Park to end the regular season. That never has happened. The last time the Bills ended the season in Miami was 2001, and that was the only time the Bills closed in South Florida in the past 24 years. The Bills closed against New England two of the past seven years, including in 2008. The Bills only closed against the Jets in 2005, 1989 and 1973.

---Mark Gaughan

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