Nine Patriots Schedule Takeaways: What’s Toughest Stretch Of Games?

The Patriots play the Bills twice in four weeks

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The New England Patriots’ 2021 NFL schedule leaked before it was set to be announced Wednesday night.

NESN.com received a document Wednesday morning with this slate of games. The Boston Herald has since confirmed it is indeed accurate.

Here’s the Patriots’ 2021 schedule with one game’s date and time still to be decided. All game times are Eastern.

Week 1 vs. Miami Dolphins, 4:25 p.m.
Week 2 at New York Jets, 1 p.m.
Week 3 vs. New Orleans Saints, 8:20 p.m.
Week 4 vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Week 5 at Houston Texans, 1 p.m.
Week 6 vs. Dallas Cowboys, 4:25 p.m.
Week 7 vs. New York Jets, 1 p.m.
Week 8 at Los Angeles Chargers, 4:05 p.m.
Week 9 at Carolina Panthers, 1 p.m.
Week 10 vs. Cleveland Browns, 1 p.m.
Week 11 at Atlanta Falcons (Thursday), 8:20 p.m.
Week 12 vs. Tennessee Titans, 1 p.m.
Week 13 at Buffalo Bills (Monday), 8:15 p.m.
Week 14 BYE
Week 15 at Indianapolis Colts (date and time TBD)
Week 16 vs. Buffalo Bills (1 p.m.)
Week 17 vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (1 p.m.)
Week 18 at Miami Dolphins (1 p.m.)

Our top takeaways:

— Let’s start out with the premier matchup on this season’s schedule with the Patriots playing the Buccaneers at Gillette Stadium in Week 4 on Oct. 3. That’s a bit earlier than most people expected. There were rumors the game would be played in November and even possibly on Thanksgiving. That game could garner record ticket prices.

— The Patriots currently have just three primetime games, though any Sunday game between Weeks 5 and 17 can be flexed. The game against the Colts in Week 15 also could wind up being at night.

— New England is set to take on rookie quarterbacks in Weeks 2, 7, and 16. Zach Wilson is projected to start for the Jets, while Trevor Lawrence is expected to be the Jaguars’ signal-caller. Who knows which quarterback will be starting for the Texans in Week 5. It could be Deshaun Watson, Tyrod Taylor, Ryan Finley or rookie Davis Mills. Wilson faces a tough test in Week 2 against a Bill Belichick-coached defense.

— The Patriots have an unbelievably late bye week in mid-December. Good opportunity to get some Christmas shopping done, but that’s a tough 13-week slate of games before New England receives a break.

— The Patriots will play the Jets twice before they get a crack at the Bills in Week 13. Certainly an odd scheduling quirk. That Monday night game in Buffalo will be rowdy, to say the least. Hide your tables!

— While Brady’s return to Foxboro is forefront on NFL fans’ minds, Cam Newton also will undoubtedly receive a warm welcome from Panthers fans in Charlotte in Week 9.

— The Patriots get significant time to prepare for the Titans in Week 12 following a Thursday night game against the Falcons in Week 11 and for the Colts in Week 15 following New England’s Week 14 bye. Indianapolis’ win total over/under is 10 and the Titans’ is 9.5, according to Vegas odds. They’re the Patriots’ third and fourth-most difficult opponents (after the Bucs and Bills) in 2021. The Cowboys and Browns also have over/under win totals of 9.5.

— New England’s toughest stretch of games comes before and after that bye with the Titans, Bills, Colts and Bills.

— The Dolphins and Patriots both avoid harsh weather in their bi-annual matchups with Week 1 in New England and Week 18 in Miami. The Jaguars could be in for a shock with an early January game in the New England winter.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady
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