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Some thoughts on Patriots’ 2013 regular-season schedule

04.18.13 at 9:04 pm ET

Here’s a look at the Patriots’ 2013 regular-season schedule.

Sunday, Sept. 8, at Buffalo, 1 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 12, vs. Jets, 8:25 p.m.
Sunday, Sept. 22, vs. Tampa Bay, 1 p.m.
Sunday, Sept. 29, at Atlanta, 8:30 p.m.
Sunday, Oct. 6, at Cincinnati, 1 p.m.
Sunday, Oct 13, vs. New Orleans, 4:25 p.m.
Sunday, Oct. 20, at Jets, 1 p.m.
Sunday, Oct. 27, vs. Miami, 1 p.m.
Sunday, Nov. 3, vs. Pittsburgh, 4:25 p.m.
Mon. Nov. 18, at Carolina, 8:40 p.m.
Sunday, Nov. 24, vs. Denver, 8:30 p.m.
Sunday, Dec. 1, at Houston, 4:25 p.m.
Sunday, Dec. 8, vs. Cleveland, 1 p.m.
Sunday, Dec. 15, at Miami, 1 p.m.
Sunday, Dec. 22, at Baltimore, 8:30 p.m.
Sunday, Dec. 29, vs. Buffalo, 1 p.m.

And here are five thoughts on how it all shakes out.

1. No surprises here, as it’s clear that by the looks of the schedule, the Patriots still move the needle when it comes to TV. They have as many as eight games that could be seen by a national audience: New England has five prime-time games this season, with a Thursday night contest in Week 2 against the Jets at home, as well as three Sunday Night Football contests (at Atlanta, home against Denver and at Baltimore) and one Monday Night Football game (at Carolina). In addition to the five nationally televised games, the Patriots will be the featured game of the week three times: home against New Orleans on Oct. 13, home against Pittsburgh on Nov. 3 and at Houston on Dec. 1 at 4:25 p.m.

2. The Patriots will face the Jets in New England’s home opener on Thursday following its regular-season opener against the Bills. It’ll be the shortest week of the season for New England, which will face a four-day turnaround. (Of course, any disadvantage is essentially negated when you factor in the knowledge that the Jets will be on a short week as well, and the Patriots and Jets are divisional opponents. It might be a different scenario if New England was going up against another non-divisional team that was coming off a bye or a longer week of preparation.) Of course, that short week will help out the Pats on the other side as they get a chance to get an early start on Tampa Bay. The Patriots will have 10 days between their game against the Jets on Sept. 12 and their Sept. 22 game at home against the Bucs.

In terms of other notes when it comes to the divisional portion of the schedule, the Patriots will open in Buffalo for the first time since 2003, when the Bills crushed New England 31-0. It will be the ninth time in team history that the Patriots open the season against Buffalo and the first since a 2009 Monday Night Football game at Gillette when Tom Brady threw two touchdown passes in the final five minutes to rally from a 24-13 deficit for a 25-24 victory. The Patriots will also close out the regular-season schedule at home for the fourth straight season when they host Buffalo on Dec. 29 at 1 p.m. It will mark the fifth time in team history that they will open and close the season against the same opponent and the first time it will occur since opening and closing the season against Buffalo in 2003.

3. The Patriots won’t play the Colts this year, breaking a streak of 10 consecutive seasons in which they’ve met in the regular season. Instead, one of a few must-see dates on the NFL calendar will come Nov. 24 when the Patriots host the Broncos and this guy. Oh, yeah — presuming both quarterbacks are healthy, it’ll be the 14th time in their careers Brady and Peyton Manning will meet. Overall, Brady holds a 9-4 advantage over Manning in regular-season (7-3) and postseason play (2-1). Brady and the Patriots beat Manning and the Broncos last season in Foxboro, 31-21, on Oct. 7. New England will be going into the Denver game on a short week, as the Patriots will have played at Carolina on Monday Night Football the week before.

4. When it comes to overall strength of schedule (based on 2012), the Patriots are 14th overall, as their opponents posted a 130-126-0 mark last season. With the understanding that everything can change, the two toughest stretches of the schedule appear to be a three-game string from Sept. 29 to Oct. 13 that includes a game at Atlanta (on Sunday night, Sept. 29) and home against New Orleans (on Oct. 13 at 4:25 p.m., a game that is notable for several reasons, not the least of which is the fact that Brady could tie Drew Brees for the consecutive game touchdown mark in that contest). In addition, the Patriots have three games in late November and early December that could be their toughest series: Nov. 24 at home against the Broncos, Dec. 1 on the road against the Texans and at Baltimore on Dec. 22. (The Houston game will be New England’€™s only game played outside of the Eastern time zone.) There’s a real good chance that those late games against the Broncos, Texans and Ravens will play a role in determining AFC playoff seedings and home-field.

5. Good bye: For the Patriots, the bye week falls on the weekend of Nov. 9-10 — nine games into the season. Teams love a midseason break, and in that respect, it comes at a good time for New England.



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