Patriots Host Saints, Eagles in Preseason, Could Lead to Matchup Between Bill Belichick, Bill Parcells

Patriots Host Saints, Eagles in Preseason, Could Lead to Matchup Between Bill Belichick, Bill ParcellsThe Patriots might have a much more interesting preseason than anyone expected.

The NFL released its exhibition schedule Wednesday, and the Patriots will host the Saints and Eagles, and they'll visit the Buccaneers and Giants. The preseason finale will be a Super Bowl rematch.

The Patriots open the preseason against the Saints. Although the date and time haven't been announced, the game will fall between Aug. 9-13. And if head coach Bill Parcells takes over the Saints on an interim basis, the opener would pit him against his most storied understudy in Bill Belichick.

The Patriots' second preseason game is Aug. 20 against the Eagles on Monday Night Football.

The Patriots will then visit the Buccaneers between Aug. 23-26, though the exact date and time haven't been determined.

The Patriots' preseason finale is against the Giants. Though the NFL hasn't released a date for the game, the Giants announced it will be Aug. 29 (seven days before the Giants' regular-season opener), which means the Patriots will play their last three preseason games in a span of 10 days. That's never happened during the Belichick era, so it will be a unique obstacle for him to navigate.

This is the eighth consecutive year in which the Patriots have played the Giants in the preseason. They've met in the preseason every year since 2001, with the exception of 2004, which was Tom Coughlin's first season as New York's head coach.

While the Saints' head coaching vacancy remains unresolved, the Patriots' other three opponents — Philadelphia (Andy Reid), Tampa Bay (Greg Schiano) and New York (Coughlin) — are led by close friends of Belichick. That leads to the possibility of joint practices, though it may be difficult for the final three games due to time constraints.

The finalized dates and times of the preseason schedule will be announced at a later date.

Patriots' preseason schedule:

Week 1 (Aug. 9-13): Date TBA, vs. New Orleans Saints

Week 2: Aug. 20, 8 p.m., vs. Philadelphia Eagles

Week 3 (Aug. 23-26): Date TBA, at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Week 4: Aug. 29, at New York Giants

Have a question for Jeff Howe? Send it to him via Twitter at @jeffphowe or send it here. He will pick a few questions to answer every week for his mailbag.

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