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Original Issue

Fantasy Projections

A best guess at the NFL's next six months

Divining the 2011 NFL calendar is about as easy as predicting the mid-March weather, but this is how it might look.

April 6 A federal judge hears (and grants) the players' request for an injunction to stop the lockout; an appeals court upholds the ruling.

April 25 The league year, including free agency and trades, begins.

April 28--30 The draft takes place in New York City. Players can sign with teams, attend rookie minicamps, etc.

June 1 The National Labor Relations Board rules on the NFL's claim that decertification is a sham. The NLRB could agree and reinstate the lockout, or side with the union, continuing the league year.

July 15 The two sides return to mediation while the antitrust case the players have filed against the league winds its way through the courts.

July 25 Training camps open.

Sept. 8 The season kicks off at Lambeau Field, Green Bay.

That's right—the best guess is that the games will be played while Brady, et al. v. NFL continues. But nothing is certain. As one lawyer involved in the dispute said late in the week, "It's unlikely we'll lose games, but so much of that is out of our hands now."