The 2011 NFL schedule won’t be announced until the spring, but the Patriots already know their opponents.

The NFL uses a rotational schedule, and the AFC East drew the AFC West and NFC East for next season’s games. Because the Patriots finished in first place, they’ll also play two other first-place teams from the AFC: the Colts and Steelers.

Of course, we must also play along and assume the 2011 schedule includes 16 games. Under that assumption, here are the Patriots’ opponents:

Home: Bills, Dolphins, Jets, Chiefs, Chargers, Colts, Cowboys, Giants

Away: Bills, Dolphins, Jets, Broncos, Raiders, Steelers, Eagles, Redskins

NFL Kickoff 2011 Weekend will begin Sept. 8 with a Thursday night game, and the regular season will conclude Jan. 1, 2012. Super Bowl XLVI will be played Feb. 5, 2012, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.