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Some early thoughts on the Patriots 2010 schedule

04.20.10 at 7:33 pm ET
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Again. here’s the 2010 Patriots schedule:

Sunday, Sept. 12: vs. Bengals, 1 p.m. (CBS)
Sunday, Sept. 19: at Jets, 4:15 p.m. (CBS)
Sunday, Sept. 26: vs. Bills, 1 p.m. (CBS)
Monday, Oct. 4: at Dolphins, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Sunday, Oct. 10: BYE
Sunday, Oct. 17: vs. Ravens, 1 p.m. (CBS)
Sunday, Oct. 24: at Chargers, 4:15 p.m. (CBS)
Sunday, Oct. 31: vs. Vikings, 4:15 p.m. (FOX)
Sunday, Nov. 7: at Browns, 1 p.m. (CBS)
Sunday, Nov. 14: at Steelers, 8:20 p.m. (NBC)
Sunday, Nov. 21: vs. Colts, 4:15 p.m. (CBS)
Thursday, Nov. 25: at Lions, 12:30 p.m. (CBS)
Monday, Dec. 6: vs. Jets, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Sunday, Dec. 12: at Bears, 1 p.m. (CBS)
Sunday, Dec. 19: vs. Packers, 8:20 p.m. (NBC)
Sunday, Dec. 26: at Bills, 1 p.m. (CBS)
Sunday, Jan. 2: vs. Dolphins, 1 p.m. (CBS)

And here are some early thoughts:

‘€¢First, some numbers, courtesy of the New England PR staff: The Patriots’€™ 2010 opponents had an aggregate record of 136-120 (.531) in 2009, which is the sixth-most difficult schedule in 2010. Nine of the Patriots’€™ 16 games will be against teams that finished with a winning record in 2009, and New England will play five games against opponents that won 10 or more games in 2009. The Patriots also will play all of the teams from the AFC Playoff field last season and two of the six NFC playoff teams, with home games against Green Bay and Minnesota. (According to NFL.com, the Patriots also will travel 13,590 miles ‘€” check out an impressive graphic on the New England schedule here.)

‘€¢ In their first division game of the season, the Patriots will avoid new New York wide receiver Santonio Holmes, who was suspended for the first four weeks of the 2010 season. Regardless, the Week 2 matchup with the Jets ‘€” as well as the Monday night meeting on Dec. 6 meeting between New York and New England ‘€” figure to be high drama.

‘€¢ The marquee games of the season are probably the two games against the Jets, as well as the Nov. 21 matchup against the Colts in Foxboro. A little odd that the Indianapolis game is not in prime time, but the 4:15 start will make sure that it’€™ll draw plenty of eyeballs. It’€™ll be the eighth straight year the Patriots and Colts will face each other in the regular season, but the first game between the two teams at Gillette Stadium since 2006.

‘€¢ Other games that jump out right off the bat include the Oct. 24 visit to the West Coast to meet the Chargers in San Diego ‘€” always a brutal test for the Patriots, no matter how good the Chargers are ‘€” as well as the Oct. 31 game at home against (presumably) Brett Favre and the Vikings. (It’€™s the eighth time in New England’€™s history that they will play on Halloween, and the first time they will play at home.) The Nov. 14 game against the Steelers in Pittsburgh could also go a long way toward determining home-field advantage in the playoffs, and the occasional late-season visit of the Dolphins to Foxboro (Jan. 2) is always an entertaining matchup.

‘€¢ The Patriots have their bye in Week 5 (the weekend of October 9-10), one of the earliest points in the season a team can get a week off. It does, however, come during their toughest month of the season: October. New England opens the month with a road game against the Dolphins ‘€” the first of four nationally-televised games for the Patriots in the regular season. They have the next week off, but follow that up with a home date against Baltimore (time to think about some revenge for last year’s playoff beatdown?), a trip to San Diego and a home game against Minnesota, three difficult games against three talented teams.

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