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Some initial thoughts on the release of the Patriots’ regular-season schedule

04.17.12 at 7:51 pm ET
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The Patriots and Jets will be the league's marquee game Thanksgiving night. (AP)

Some initial thoughts on the Patriots’ 2012 regular-season schedule, which was unveiled Tuesday night:

•For a team that went to the Super Bowl, the Patriots are playing an awful lot of games that kick off Sunday at 1 p.m. Perhaps that’s indicative of the overall strength of schedule (based on 2011 records, New England has the easiest schedule in the league), but to see so many games that start Sunday at 1 p.m. is a little jarring. Right now, the Patriots have nine games that are set to start Sunday at 1 p.m., including home dates against Arizona, Buffalo, Indianapolis and Miami, as well as road games against Buffalo, St. Louis (in London), Miami and Jacksonville. Those games could always be flexed out, but at this point, nine early games is a lot.

•This is part of playing the annual game in England (Week 8, against St. Louis), but New England’s bye comes the following week, roughly the midway point of the regular season. As wide receiver Donte Stallworth tweeted Tuesday night, it’s the perfect time of the season to have a bye week — the middle of the schedule.

•Thanksgiving night against the Jets shapes up to be one of the must-watch games of the year. The Patriots are 2-2 all-time on thanksgiving, with their last outing on Turkey Day coming in 2010 when they beat the Lions in Detroit, 45-24.

•The Patriots start their season with three road games in their first four contests, including a rematch of the AFC championship game on Sunday, Sept. 23 against the Ravens in Baltimore and road games at Tennessee (to open the year on Sept. 9) and at Buffalo (to open the divisional schedule on Sept. 30). Including the preseason (where New England closes with a pair of road games), that’ll make five out of six games away from Gillette Stadium, with the most difficult game coming against Baltimore. The flip side to that is that the Patriots will finish the regular-season with three of their final four games at home, including a pair of what shape up to be toughies: against Houston and against San Francisco. (There’s also a road game against Jacksonville and a home game to close out the season against Miami.)

•The toughest overall stretch might be the four-game series that starts on Oct. 7 with a home date against Peyton Manning and the Broncos. The Patriots will follow that up with am Oct. 14 game at Seattle (never an easy road trip, regardless of what sort of talent the Seahawks might have), home the next week against the Jets, and then to London to meet the Rams. On paper, it doesn’t look that daunting, but that’s a lot of miles to cover in 21 days. The second-toughest test for the Patriots is likely the back-to-back games they have against Houston (Monday, Dec. 10) and San Francisco (Dec. 16). Playing a pair of quality opponents on back-to-back on a short week is tough, even if you have to do it at home.

•For New England’s detailed schedule, click through to NFL.com HERE.

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