The NFL continued to capitalize on its wild levels of popularity Monday by announcing its plans to make a future announcement. That's not bad for a league that could have broken the Internet earlier this month by unveiling a new line of jerseys that hardly had any changes.
Anyway, the NFL announced Monday that it will unveil its 2012 regular-season schedule Tuesday. The Patriots, who have played in five of the last 11 Super Bowls, will surely receive their share of the spotlight.
The Patriots already know they'll be playing the Rams in London on Oct. 28, which will be Week 8. Assuming the NFL sticks to its formula with international games, the Patriots will have their bye in Week 9.
The Patriots also know the rest of their opponents. They'll host the Bills, Dolphins, Jets, Colts, Texans, 49ers, Cardinals and Broncos in 2012.
The Patriots will also visit the Bills, Dolphins, Jets, Jaguars, Titans, Seahawks and Ravens. The game against the Rams is considered a road game for New England.
Per usual, one of the league's great ratings darlings should get their time on national television. The Patriots will almost certainly play the Jets in prime time, and they might get a national audience for one of the games against the improved Bills, too. Plus, New England's last two games in Miami have been on Monday Night Football.
Outside of the division, the Patriots will play four playoff teams from 2011 (Texans, Broncos, 49ers, Ravens). Each of those contests will garner its own set of storylines, with the AFC Championship rematch (Ravens), Peyton Manning's return to New England (Broncos) and Tom Brady's showdown against his hometown team (49ers).
The possibility also exists — however forced it may be — that the Colts get a chance to revitalize their rivalry with the Patriots under the new leadership of rookie quarterback Andrew Luck.
The Patriots have been one of the NFL's most popular teams for more than a decade, and with a bunch of high-profile opponents on their schedule, expect the spotlight to remain on New England again in 2012.