The Patriots’ 2011 regular season schedule has been released for a season that will hopefully open on-schedule. The Pats open the season away in Miami as part of a Monday night double-header at 7 pm on ESPN. Three of the Pats’ first four games are on the road, with the home game coming Week 2 against San Diego. They return home from that stretch Week 5 to host the New York Jets at 4:15 pm on CBS. The Patriots may have a slight advantage as the Jets will be playing their third road game in a row that week. The bye week is in about as good a spot as the team could hope for in Week 7. After the bye week, the team faces a brutal six-game stretch.
The Pats’ six games following the bye week are at the Steelers, hosting the Giants, at the Jets, hosting the Chiefs, at the Eagles, and then ending that stretch at home versus the Colts. The Colts game comes later this year than usual, in Week 13, and will likely have huge playoff implications as their games usually do. In total, the Pats face eight teams that finished .500 or better last season, with an overall opponents’ record of 129-127. The Patriots have the 16th ranked schedule in terms of difficulty, though those preseason schedule strength indicators usually don’t pan out. Teams that are expected to do well don’t, and there are always one or two teams that rise up from the depths of the NFL and surprise.
The Patriots have a majority of their games airing at 4:15 pm EST or later, meaning that they are likely to be the featured game and feature the networks’ top broadcast teams. Four of the team’s games are prime time games. The four prime time games are the opener at the Dolphins at 7 pm on ESPN, Week 10 at the Jets on NBC at 8:20 pm, Week 11 against the Chiefs, and then Week 13 against the Colts on NBC at 8:20 pm.
Some other quick notes:
- The Cowboys in Week 6 are the only team that Patriots will play that are coming off a bye week
- The Pats will play the NY Giants twice this year. They will play in the final game of the preseason and then again on Week 9 in the regular season. Both games are home games for the Pats.
- The Pats could have 5 games against teams with new quarterbacks (Dolphins twice, Bills twice, and the Redskins)
- The Pats lucked out travel-wise. Despite playing the AFC West, they only have to travel to the west coast once Week 2 at the Chargers. The Raiders visit Foxborough Week 4 and then the farthest west the Pats go after that is in Week 15 at the Broncos.
- The Pats’ games Week 8 at the Steelers and Week 11 against the Chiefs are among NFL.com analyst Steve Wyche’s “Diamond Dozen” games to look forward to in 2011