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New England Patriots Schedule Announced: Opener in Miami, Home Opener vs. Oakland

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Rob Foldy-USA TODAY Sports

Sorry to spoil your NFL Schedule Release Party, not that you were having one anyway, but the New England Patriots' schedule has been officially announced. They will open their season on the road against the Miami Dolphins and they're home opener will be in Week 3 versus the Oakland Raiders.

Here's the full schedule:

Week 1: at Miami Dolphins, 1 p.m., Sept. 7
Week 2: at Minnesota Vikings, 1 p.m., Sept. 14
Week 3: vs. Oakland Raiders, 1 p.m., Sept. 21
Week 4: at Kansas City Chiefs, 8:30 p.m., Sept. 29 (Monday Night)
Week 5: vs. Cincinnati Bengals, 8:30 p.m., Oct. 5 (Sunday Night)
Week 6: at Buffalo Bills, 1 p.m.. Oct. 12
Week 7: vs. New York Jets, 8:25 p.m., Oct. 16 (Thursday Night)
Week 8: vs. Chicago Bears, 1 p.m., Oct. 26
Week 9: vs. Denver Broncos, 4:25 p.m., Nov. 2
Week 10: Bye Week
Week 11: at Indianapolis Colts, 8:30 p.m., Nov. 16 (Sunday Night)
Week 12: vs. Detroit Lions, 1 p.m., Nov. 23
Week 13: at Green Bay Packers, 4:25 p.m., Nov. 30
Week 14: at San Diego Chargers, 8:30 p.m., Dec. 7 (Sunday Night)
Week 15: vs. Miami Dolphins, 1 p.m., Dec. 14
Week 16: at New York Jets, 1 p.m., Dec. 21
Week 17: vs. Buffalo Bills, 1 p.m., Dec. 28

Besides the openers, a number of games stick out to me. For one, Denver in Week 9 could be crucial heading into the bye week. With a win, the Patriots could be riding high during the break, but a loss could deter their hopes of home field advantage. Fortunately, the Patriots will have two weeks to prepare for Indianapolis, who should be even better this season.

Also, the Patriots will have a mini-bye after their Thursday night game in Week 7. That'll give them extra time to prepare for the potentially monstrous Chicago offense.

As expected, the Patriots will close their season with three consecutive games against their AFC East rivals. It remains to be seen how good Miami, New York, and Buffalo will be, but those will be important games nonetheless.