The New England Patriots will defend their Super Bowl championship with a regular-season schedule loaded with prime time games and manageable travel.
The NFL on Wednesday released its regular-season schedule for all 32 teams and all 256 games, and the Patriots will play in five prime time games, starting with their season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday Night Football on Sept. 8.
New England did miss out on being featured in the kickoff game, which usually is hosted by the defending Super Bowl champion. This year, however, the Thursday night kickoff game will be in Chicago as the Bears host the Packers Sept. 5 on NBC. The matchup is a nod to the league’s oldest rivalry, as the NFL is set to enter its 100th season.
The next time New England will be in prime time will be a Week 6 Thursday night clash on Oct. 10 against the New York Giants. The next week will feature a Monday Night Football contest on the road against the New York Jets.
The Patriots’ bye comes on Week 10, and the final prime time game of the year – barring any schedule flexing – will be a Week 13 clash Dec. 1 on Sunday night against the Houston Texans.
A pair of New England’s most anticipated games of the year – a Week 11 battle against the Eagles and a Week 14 game against the Chiefs in a rematch of the AFC Championship Game – will both be played in the late-afternoon window at 4:25 p.m. ET on CBS.