The NFL regular season schedule for all 32 teams was released last night during a ridiculous ESPN special. Why they make a big deal of it I'll never know, but that's neither here nor there.
We already knew who the Patriots were playing next year, but now we know the dates and times, per the team's official website.
I love that this schedule features so many 1 p.m. games, some of them against good opponents. The Pats will be tested right out of the gate with Kansas City, New Orleans (I know their defense sucks but I'll never count Drew Brees out of anything), Houston and Carolina. Hell, even Tampa could be a good match up.
Here are some other thoughts:
I really wish they were playing Atlanta to open the year instead of Kansas City. A Super Bowl LI rematch would have had so much more hype attached to it than playing the Chiefs will. But the NFL wants the Falcons' new stadium to be featured in prime time and I get that, so it wouldn't be a good look to have them on in that time slot two weeks in a row.
Even so, I think it's safe to say most Patriots fans have Week 7 circled on their calendars. The buildup to that game is going to be awesome.
The Patriots will have two weeks to prepare going into Denver, who almost always gives them trouble outside of last year. I'll never take Denver lightly, so I'm glad they'll have an extra week to get ready.
The Mexico City game against the Raiders should be a lot of fun. I think Oakland could be the second-best team in the AFC, so we could be looking at an AFC title game preview.
Almost all of the division games come after Thanksgiving, which is usually when the Pats are at their best. They'll probably have some issues in Miami (which is usually the case), but this could really work out in their favor otherwise.
While I think the Raiders are the second-best team in the AFC, Pittsburgh is right there too. That Week 15 match up between the Pats and Steelers could mean a lot for playoff seeding.
I love games on holidays, so being able to watch the Pats play on Christmas Eve and during the day on New Years Eve will be pretty cool. By then, though, those games may not matter to the Pats. Maybe we'll see Jimmy Garoppolo, if he's still with the team, start that last game against the Jets in a potential trade showcase?