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Five thoughts on Patriots’ 2013 preseason schedule

04.04.13 at 5:30 pm ET
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Five thoughts on the Patriots 2013 preseason schedule:

1. None of the four teams on the schedule is a surprise — Bill Belichick has always stocked the preseason slate with his pals, and this year is no exception. All four teams feature coaches who are tight with Belichick: Chip Kelly and Belichick have compared notes on uptempo offensive styles in the past, while Greg Schiano and Belichick cultivated a relationship while Schiano was at Rutgers. Meanwhile, Jim Schwartz was an assistant under Belichick in Cleveland, and he worked with Tom Coughlin when the two were together with the Giants. (Maybe the only surprising thing about this group is the fact that the Patriots don’t play Kansas City, as Belichick and Andy Reid have become close over the years and routinely faced each other in the preseason when Reid was with the Eagles.)

2. While most preseason games are relatively dull affairs, the first one on the slate — Patriots-Eagles — should feature plenty of fast football. Kelly, who kept his foot on the gas and helped change the college game somewhat when he guided Oregon the last few seasons, is a fan of uptempo offense. In what will be his first preseason game as head coach in Philly, look for him to establish a fast pace right out of the gate. Meanwhile, few NFL teams have operated at a faster pace than the Patriots the last few seasons, and figure to show some no-huddle when they meet the Eagles in the first game of the year for both teams.

3. The Patriots have utilized joint practices the last few summers — against NFC South opponents in the Saints and Bucs (last year) and Falcons (in 2010) — and their Week 2 game against Tampa Bay could provide them with another chance to hold a series of combined practices before their Aug. 16 game. The Tuesday through Thursday (Aug. 13 through 15) prior to the Friday night game appear to be a prime chance for a series of joint sessions in Foxboro. While none of the games on the schedule are a huge surprise, it is certainly eye-opening that the Patriots will choose to play Tampa Bay in the preseason despite the fact that the two teams will meet later in the season — it speaks to the depth of the friendship between the two. (In that vein, don’t look for either team to do anything that might tip their hand as to what they might be planning for the regular season. In other words, don’t read too much into the outcome or personnel groupings.)

4. The third game of the schedule is always the one where the starters will go extra minutes, and provide the best chance to see how the No. 1 offense and defense look with the regular season looming. This year, that’ll come in Detroit when the Lions and Patriots will meet in Week 3 of the preseason. The two teams also met in the third preseason game in Detroit in 2011, and the Lions came ready to play, stomping New England by a 34-10 count. In that one, Matthew Stafford threw for 200 yards and two touchdowns in less than a half while Tom Brady was sacked twice and beat up by an overly physical Detroit front.

5. It wouldn’t be a Patriots preseason schedule without a finale against the Giants. This summer will mark the ninth straight year the two will square off in a preseason finale and the 23rd time overall in the preseason — the most frequent preseason opponent for New England. Last season, the Giants beat the Patriots, 6-3, at MetLife Stadium on Aug. 29.

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