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Patriots 2023 schedule release: 8 storylines to watch

The NFL 2023 schedule is out. For the Patriots, here are eight things to keep an eye on this upcoming season.

Kansas City Chiefs v New England Patriots Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

The NFL officially announced the entirety of the 2023 season schedule Thursday night and there are plenty of exciting storylines upcoming.

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

A New Beginning

After opening the last three seasons against the Miami Dolphins, the Patriots will welcome a new opponent in Week 1 this season. That team is the reigning NFC Champion Philadelphia Eagles, who will travel to Foxboro for the season opener.

It will be quite the test for New England right out of the gate, and could be a strong benchmark to see where they line up against one of the league’s best early in the season. It will also mark the return of Matt Patricia, who was hired by the Eagles as a senior defensive assistant, to Foxboro.

Tom Brady Returns

Matt Patricia will not be the only one returning to Gillette in Week 1, as a quarterback named Tom Brady will also return to be honored.

It will mark the first time Brady has returned to Foxboro since Week 4 of the 2021 season when he was a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. However, it won't be the last time the legendary quarterback should be expected at Gillette Stadium: “It will be the beginning of many celebrations to honor Tom Brady,” Kraft said.

Hey Rodgers!

Speaking of legendary quarterbacks. In case you’ve been living under a rock, Aaron Rodgers is now a member of the New York Jets. The Patriots will get their first taste of the Rodgers-led Jets in Week 3 in the Meadowlands. Rodgers will get a chance to break the Jets current 14 game losing streak to New England.

“Well Aaron Rodgers – I mean, definitely a fantastic quarterback for sure. Definitely is going to add some things to the Jets as far as their offense is concerned,” captain Ja’Whaun Bentley said Tuesday. “So hands down it’s going to be a hell of an opportunity for us to go against him twice a year.”

The two will also close their seasons against each other in Foxboro in a game that could hold massive playoff implications. It’s the first time New England concludes their regular season at home since 2020.

Bye Week

As Davon Godchaux noted, one of the first things he does when the schedule is released is look for the bye week. He should like what he sees as the Patriots land a Week 11 bye following their game in Germany.

That continues a trend for New England, as it’s the 10th time in the last 11 years that their bye will fall in the second half of the season. They will use that time off to prepare for a matchup with Brian Daboll’s New York Giants.

Travel Time

In terms of mileage, New England will travel the 10th most amongst teams. That includes trips to Germany and out west to Dallas, Denver, and Las Vegas. Unlike years past though, none of their longer travel trips fall in back-to-back weeks.

It’s a notable change as the Patriots typically request those longer travel trips be in consecutive weeks, allowing them to avoid lengthy, consecutive flights. It could be worth wondering if they ditched that plan this year after poor results last season.

After a Monday night game in Arizona, New England spent the week two hours north in Tuscan. They then traveled to Las Vegas the next weekend for a Sunday kickoff. Besides players being thrown off their typical routine away from home, it was a lot of travel. The result was New England seeming quite flat to start the game as Vegas jumped out to a 17-3 lead.

Prime time

For the third straight year, the Patriots are set to play just four prime time games — their fewest amount since 2016. Similarly to last year, the majority of those games occur in a late season stretch.

Starting in Week 14, the Patriots will travel to Pittsburgh for the second straight season for a Thursday night matchup. They will then have extra time to help prepare for the defending Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs, who come to Foxboro the next Monday Night. The three game prime time stretch concludes with a trip to Denver for a Christmas Eve nightcap.

New England’s fourth prime time game comes Week 2 at home against Miami. It would also not be a surprise if their Week 18 matchup against Aaron Rodgers and the Jets is flexed into a prime time slot.

AFC East Bundles

The Patriots will have plenty of chances to make rapid moves throughout the AFC East standings, as each AFC East matchup this year comes in a bundle.

After starting with Miami at home in Week 2, New England will hit the road in Week 3 to play the Jets. Nearly a month later, Buffalo will come to Foxboro in Week 7 which is immediately followed by a trip down south to Miami. The season will then close with back-to-back rivalry games against the Bills and Jets, which the Patriots’ playoff hopes could rely on.

In the noteworthy department, New England will avoid an early or late season trip down to Miami, which has been a well-documented house of horror for them as late. All of their last 12 games in Miami have come in either September, December, or January. Perhaps a trip South in October will produce better results.

Home Cookin’

While the Patriots will lose one home game at Gillette Stadium due to being the “host” in Germany, the remaining slate provides plenty of intrigue. Of those coming to Foxboro include Patrick Mahomes, Jalen Hurts, Aaron Rodgers, Justin Herbert, and Josh Allen. Additionally, Derek Carr and Tua Tagovailoa have given New England challenges in years past.

As for the Foxboro faithful, five of the eight home games at Gillette come prior to Thanksgiving — which could lead to some ideal tailgate weather. One of the later matchups on the calendar is against the reigning Super Bowl champions on Monday Night.