The 2018 NFL schedule officially will be unveiled Thursday night, but thanks to numerous leaks, most of the dates around the league already have been made public. Jeff Howe of The Athletic shared the entire New England Patriots schedule Thursday afternoon, with multiple other outlets later doing the same.
Since the cat already is out of the bag, let’s take a closer look at each matchup.
Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 9 vs Houston Texans (1 p.m.)
Assuming Deshaun Watson is back healthy, this is a great matchup to kick off the season. Watson nearly led the Texans to an upset victory at Gillette Stadium last season, losing 36-33 on a last-minute touchdown catch by Brandin Cooks. This marks the first time since 2014 the Patriots will play an afternoon game in Week 1.
Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 16 vs Jacksonville Jaguars (4:25 p.m.)
The Jags won’t have to wait long for another shot at the Patriots, who erased a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit to beat Jacksonville in the AFC Championship Game three months ago.
Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 23 at Detroit Lions (8:20)
It was speculated the NFL might set up a Thanksgiving reunion between Matt Patricia and his old team. Instead, the Patriots will visit their former defensive coordinator on “Sunday Night Football” in late September
Week 4: Sunday, Sept. 30 vs. Miami Dolphins (1 p.m.)
The Dolphins, who could use a high draft pick on a quarterback next week, haven’t won in Foxboro since 2008.
Week 5: Thursday, Oct. 4 vs. Indianapolis Colts (8:20 p.m.)
The team Josh McDaniels spurned visits Gillette in the Patriots’ lone Thursday game of the season.
Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 14 vs. Kansas City Chiefs (8:20 p.m.)
A season-long streak of three straight home dates concludes with a Sunday night game against the Chiefs, who blew out the Patriots in each of the teams’ last two regular-season meetings. With Alex Smith now in Washington, New England should get its first look at Patrick Mahomes here.
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 21 at Chicago Bears (1 p.m.)
Can the Bears, who were very busy in free agency, return to respectability in Year 2 of Mitchell Trubisky?
Week 8: Monday, Oct. 29 at Buffalo Bills (8:15 p.m.)
A rare primetime showdown in Buffalo, which hasn’t hosted a Sunday or Monday night game since 2008. The Bills will have a new quarterback under center for this one after trading Tyrod Taylor to the Cleveland Browns. Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 4 vs. Green Bay Packers (8:20 p.m.) Tom Brady vs. Aaron Rodgers. Enough said.
Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 4 vs. Green Bay Packers (8:20 p.m.)
Tom Brady vs. Aaron Rodgers. Enough said. Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 11 at Tennessee Titans (1 p.m.) With Malcolm Butler, Dion Lewis and Mike Vrabel on the other side, it’s surprising this game wasn’t given a primetime slot.
Week 11: Bye
Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 25 at New York Jets (1 p.m.)
For the second time in three years, the first Pats-Jets matchup doesn’t come until Week 12. Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 2 vs. Minnesota Vikings (4:25 p.m.) Hopes are high in Minnesota as the Kirk Cousins era commences. The Vikings, who boast one of the NFL’s best defenses, lost in the NFC Championship Game last season.
Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 2 vs. Minnesota Vikings (4:25 p.m.)
Hopes are high in Minnesota as the Kirk Cousins era commences. The Vikings, who boast one of the NFL’s best defenses, lost in the NFC Championship Game last season.
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 9 at Miami Dolphins (1 p.m.)
Another late-season trap game? The Patriots have lost in four of their last five trips to Miami, including a punchless effort in Week 14 last season.
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 16 at Pittsburgh Steelers (4:25 p.m.)
These teams played one of the craziest games of the 2017 season last December. This one could be the final battle between Brady and Ben Roethlisberger.
Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 23 vs. Buffalo Bills (1 p.m.)
The final quarter of the Patriots’ 2018 schedule is identical to last season’s. Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 30 vs. New York Jets (1 p.m.) Another AFC East matchup to close things out.