Week 1 - Steelers; Thursday Night Football; This was to be expected as it offers the Patriots best home game up for a national audience. Both teams will be missing their starting running backs, but the Steelers defense is actually going to be going through more growing pains than the Patriots.
Week 2 - at Bills; 1:00pm; The Patriots start off the season with an extended break to prepare to take on Rex Ryan and his new Buffalo team. This is a dangerous game since the Bills have plenty of talent on offense and it generally takes more time over the year for the Patriots superior coaching to win out.
Week 3 - Jaguars; 1:00pm; Shouldn't be too crazy of a game and it allows the Patriots two weeks at home before a road trip.
Week 4 - BYE WEEK; This is the worst possible bye week. The team had better be well conditioned.
Week 5 - at Cowboys; 4:25pm; The start of the team's most difficult back-to-back. The Cowboys are a great team and they'll look to make an early season statement at home. Luckily Bill Belichick is a wizard during the bye week and will have the Patriots ready to go.
Week 6 - at Colts; Sunday Night Football; The second prime time game of the year and hopefully New England is ready to bury Indianapolis by a score of roughly a billion to zero. LeGarrette Blount will be back and this is the point of the year where the offensive line really takes shape.
Week 7 - Jets; 1:00pm; The Patriots get a little reprieve from their travel, but they have to face a brand new coaching staff with the Jets. This should be a really fun game for viewers. Darrelle Revis' return.
Week 8 - Dolphins; Thursday Night Football; Miami comes to face the Patriots on a short week. This is a brutal stretch, with two prime time games against two of the top teams in the league, a divisional game, and then a prime time divisional game. This will reveal a lot about the team's character.
Week 9 - Washington; 1:00pm; Another break after a long week, but it'd be nice to have a more important opponent while coming off of an extra couple of days of rest. Washington is honestly the least important team on the schedule with regards to tiebreakers.
Week 10 - at Giants; 4:25pm; New York at a pivotal point in the season? Let's see if Tom Brady can get his career record back to .500 against this Giants squad. Shane Vereen's return, which should be fun.
Week 11 - Bills; Monday Night Football; ANOTHER PRIME TIME GAME WHAT IS THIS?! Rex comes to New England and this will be Buffalo's Super Bowl. They will be doing everything they can to beat the Patriots in prime time.
Week 12 - at Broncos; Sunday Night Football; This...this is just...c'mon...really? Back-to-back prime time games? This is the fifth time on the season the Patriots will be the only game on television. There are two additional games after 4PM. This is quite possibly the very last showdown between Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. Hopefully it goes the way all others have gone.
Week 13 - Eagles; 4:25pm; Scratch that. Three of the Patriots games against the NFC East are at 4:25pm. Hopefully Philadelphia still doesn't have a quarterback at this point. This is the final game in a stretch of nine with only two 1:00pm games. Chip Kelly's genius will be on watch; Belichick will protect his throne.
Week 14 - at Texans; 1:00pm; This marks the "easy" part of the Patriots schedule, which also marks the start of an extended three-of-four road trip. Former offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien and company will play host. Vince Wilfork, Ryan Mallett, Mike Vrabel (as a coach), this will be fun. Oh, yeah, J.J. Watt might make an appearance.
Week 15 - Titans; 1:00pm; Final breather of the year. Hopefully the Patriots can win this one by another 59-0 margin.
Week 16 - at Jets; 1:00pm; The Jets could quite possibly be fighting for a wild card spot while the Patriots could still be jockeying for the divisional title and a potential bye week in the playoffs. This is a sleeper game to be extremely important.
Week 17 - at Dolphins; 1:00pm; At least the Patriots won't have to deal with excessive heat when the face Miami this year? This will possibly be Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin's last game. It would be incredible if the Patriots had a first round bye and homefield advantage locked up, so they could throw this game and possibly make the Dolphins reconsider letting Philbin go. He's just too fun.
Thoughts? The Patriots have a ridiculously early bye week, followed by a stretch of four prime time games and three afternoon games in nine weeks. Oh, and then after that they finish with three out of four on the road. This is an ugly schedule. Really, really, really ugly.