Earlier today, the NFL officially released its 2018 regular season schedule. The New England Patriots' 16 games are full of high-quality matchups and interesting storylines – but which games are the most intriguing? Let's try to find out by sifting through the calendar to find the top five games on the Patriots' upcoming schedule.
5) Week 6: vs Kansas City Chiefs
Why? Because of revenge for last season's opener
Last year's opening night game between the Patriots and the Chiefs started with a celebration and ended in disaster. Kansas City blew out the home team 42-27 and showed why it was one of the AFC's better teams in 2017. The Chiefs – behind a high-powered offense – project to be just that in 2018 as well, despite being led by a different quarterback. The two teams' week six primetime matchup will therefore likely play a big role in the conference's playoff seeding.
4) Week 2: at Jacksonville Jaguars
Why? Because of the AFC Championship Game
Jacksonville came close to dethroning the Patriots as AFC champions last season, but not close enough to prevent Tom Brady from pulling off another one of his patented come-from-behind victories. The 2017 conference title game between New England and Jacksonville was a nail-biter and this year's week two game between the two teams – both among the class of the AFC – should also be an interesting and highly entertaining matchup.
3) Week 5: vs Indianapolis Colts
Why? Because of Deflategate and the Josh McDaniels saga
The last time the Colts played a football game in Foxboro was January 18, 2015 – the AFC title game that would forever be associated with the Deflategate farce. In week five, the Colts will now return to New England for the first time since the scandal broke. And if that was not enough intrigue, the game also features Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels going against the team he left at the head coaching altar earlier this offseason
2) Week 9: vs Green Bay Packers
Why? Because of the two best quarterbacks in the NFL
Even though Aaron Rodgers entered the NFL in 2005, he and Tom Brady only squared off once before; a 2014 regular season game that Rodgers' Packers won 26-21. This year, the two best quarterbacks in the league will indirectly meet again for what might be their final matchup – at least during the regular season – considering both players' respective age. Of course, it could also be a preview of Super Bowl 53.
1) Week 15: at Pittsburgh Steelers
Why? Because of playoff implications and last year's game
Just like last season, the Steelers project to join the Patriots as one of the best teams in the AFC. And also just like last year, the two squads will meet in week 15 for a game that could have major implications on the conference's postseason picture: the winner could very well end up as the top seed because of a tiebreaker earned in that game. Of course, the thrilling and controversial last meeting between Pittsburgh and New England adds even more intrigue to what is one of the most highly-anticipated games of the year.