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New England Patriots v Detroit Lions

As the NFL officially announced the entirety of the 2022 season schedule Thursday night, there are plenty of exciting storylines on the horizon.

For the Patriots, here are seven things to keep an eye on on this year’s schedule.

The Opening Trilogy

For the third straight season, the Patriots will matchup with division rival Miami Dolphins in Week 1, this time coming in Miami. It will be the club’s first time starting the season on the road since 2016.

The Patriots will avoid what has become a dreaded late season trip to Miami, where the team has struggled in recent years for whatever reason. If the Miami heat plays a role in those struggles, they should be better prepared in Week 1 than later in the season. Speaking of weather, New England will welcome Tua Tagovailoa and the Dolphins to the cold and windy Foxboro on New Year’s Day in Week 17.

Primetime

After playing just four primetime games in 2021 (fewest since 2016), the Patriots are schedule to play five this upcoming season, including a stretch of four straight in the second half of the season.

New England’s first primetime game comes in Week 7, where they welcome the Chicago Bears to Foxboro on Monday Night Football. The game will mark a battle between two 2021 first-round quarterbacks (Mac Jones, Justin Fields).

The most notable primetime game comes on Thanksgiving Day. New England has not played on Thanksgiving since the infamous ‘Buttfumble’ occurred in 2012, but will travel to Minnesota for the nighttime matchup. They will then play back-to-back Thursday contests, welcoming Buffalo — who also will play on Thanksgiving — to Foxboro the following Thursday night. In the stretch of four straight prime time contests, the Patriots will then travel out West for a Monday night matchup with Arizona, followed by a Sunday night contest with the Raiders.

Pat Patriot Uniforms

Speaking of the Thanksgiving game, it has become quite common for teams to wear throwback uniforms on Turkey Day. That makes it a reasonable time to assume New England will break out their Pat Patriot red throwback uniform. However, Minnesota’s uniform choice could throw a wrench in those plans. If they wear their purple throwbacks, the red and purple color scheme could be a conflict.

Either way, the red uniforms will be back at some point this season. While the team has not yet officially announced it, it was revealed by the Patriots Hall of Fame last year.

Bye Week

In an ongoing trend for the Patriots, the team’s bye week will fall in the second half of the season (nine out of the last 10 seasons). After a Week 14 bye last season - their latest ever - New England will take their week long break in Week 10 this season.

The break will be before a home matchup against the New York Jets and then their stretch of four primetime games, making it perhaps a strong week to take off and refocus for the stretch run.

Trip out West

Back in 2020, the Patriots and league consolidated two trips into one, as New England played the Los Angeles Chargers and Rams in back-to-back weeks. The Patriots will likely take a similar trip out West this season — maybe not spending an entire week in Vegas, however — as they are set to play the Cardinals and Raiders in Weeks 14 and 15, respectively.

Both matchups will be in primetime, as the Week 15 contest will be the first time New England faces Josh McDaniels and his “Patriots West” squad.

Old faces, new places

There is always player movement in NFL offseason, but the past few months have seen an unprecedented stretch of roster changes across the league. Here are some of the biggest names on new teams the Patriots will matchup against this season:

The Patriots could potentially avoid Deshaun Watson in Week 6 if he faces a suspension from his multiple allegations of sexual assault. They will not avoid DeAndre Hopkins however, as their Week 14 matchup will take place after his six game suspension for PEDs.

The Finale

Last year’s Patriots vs. Bills games had some massive implication across the AFC in terms of playoff seeding. The two are set to meet at the end of the regular season, as it appears the league is expecting another meaningful late season game. New England will be traveling to Buffalo — where weather may certainly be a factor — but they will have to wait to book their hotel rooms. The Week 18 matchup was designated with a TBD status, as it will take place either on Saturday or Sunday, as the NFL gives themselves the option to flex the game into a primetime spot.