Super Bowl champions Saints open NFL season against Vikings

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Super Bowl champions New Orleans Saints will kick off the 2010 National Football League season by hosting the Minnesota Vikings in a Thursday night game on September 9, the league said on Tuesday.

The regular season concludes Sunday, January 2, with all 16 contests being division games.

Kickoff Weekend will also feature a Sunday night game with the Dallas Cowboys visiting the Washington Redskins on an opening slate that marks the debut of the new Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, with two games.

On Sunday, September 12, the New York Giants face the Carolina Panthers in the first regular-season game at the stadium.

A day later, the New York Jets will meet the Baltimore Ravens in the first Monday night game of the season.

In the final three weeks of the season, there will be a total of 28 division matchups, up from 15 in 2009, to boost interest in playoff ramifications.

Two scheduling highlights will come in late October and early November when the NFL again crosses the United States border.

On October 31 at London's Wembley Stadium, the NFL will continue its International Series of regular-season games when the San Francisco 49ers host the Denver Broncos.

On November 7, the Buffalo Bills will venture north to Canada for the third consecutive season when they host the Chicago Bears in Toronto at the Rogers Centre.

(Reporting by Larry Fine, Editing by Ian Ransom)