Nine Thoughts On Patriots’ 2022 Schedule After Official Release

17 games, nine takeaways


May 12, 2022

The New England Patriots’ 2022 schedule finally arrived Thursday night. Here are nine initial thoughts on their 17-game slate:

1. Talk about a less-than-ideal opener.

The Patriots will visit the Miami Dolphins in Week 1, meaning they’ll need to endure the sweltering South Florida heat and contend with an AFC East rival that’s won six of the last nine games in this biannual series, including both last season. New England’s new-look secondary also will face an early test against a lightning-fast Miami receiving corps headlined by Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle.

This is the third straight year that the Patriots and Dolphins have squared off on opening weekend, with the last two meetings coming at Gillette Stadium. Miami will come to Foxboro on New Year’s Day.

2. The Patriots also will be on the road in Week 2, visiting a Pittsburgh Steelers team led by either Kenny Pickett or Mitchell Trubisky before returning to New England for a Week 3 home opener against Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens (both 1 p.m. ET kickoffs).

This is a notable change for Bill Belichick’s club, which hadn’t begun a season on the road since 2016 (the Jimmy Garoppolo game in Arizona) and hadn’t opened with back-to-back roadies since 2014.

The Patriots also will travel again when they visit Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field in Week 4 (4:25 p.m. ET), so three of their first four games will be away from Gillette.

3. New England’s first primetime game will be a Week 7 matchup of 2021 first-round quarterbacks: Mac Jones versus Justin Fields and the Chicago Bears on “Monday Night Football.”

Jones went 4-0 against his fellow rookie QBs last season, beating Houston’s Davis Mills and Jacksonville’s Trevor Lawrence once apiece and the New York Jets’ Zach Wilson twice.

4. The Patriots will visit Cleveland in Week 6. That’s notable because we’re still waiting to hear how long of a suspension new Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson will receive, if any. If it’s for six or more games, he’d be unavailable for this matchup, meaning New England likely would face either Jacoby Brissett or Baker Mayfield.

That, of course, would be a big break for the Patriots.

Their meeting with the Cardinals isn’t until Week 14, so Arizona will have suspended wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins by then. Hopkins was banned for the first six games for a PED violation.

5. For the first time in a decade, the Patriots will not spend Thanksgiving at home with their families. They’ll be in Minnesota to take on the Vikings in the annual Turkey Day nightcap, with kickoff at U.S. Bank Stadium set for 8:20 p.m. ET in Week 12.

New England hasn’t played Thanksgiving since routing the New York Jets in the infamous 2012 Butt Fumble game. This year’s Vikings matchup will take place two days after the 10-year anniversary of that memorable night at MetLife Stadium.

This also will be the Patriots’ first trip to Minneapolis since their Super Bowl LII loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.

6. The much-anticipated Josh McDaniels showdown won’t come until the weekend before Christmas. The Patriots will visit their former offensive coordinator and the squadron of New England alumni he’s assembled with the Raiders on “Sunday Night Football” in Week 15.

Marquee game … in Las Vegas … in the middle of winter — yeah, expect plenty of Patriots fans to make the trip out for this one.

In an interesting twist, the Patriots also will play a preseason game against McDaniels’ Raiders. It’s extremely rare for them to schedule exhibition games against Pacific Time Zone teams. That week also will feature a set of joint practices, per a report from Boston Sports Journal’s Greg Bedard.

New England also will host the New York Giants and the Carolina Panthers during the preseason. Dates and times for those three games are TBA.

7. The Patriots almost always end the season with a divisional game, and this year is no different. But for the first time since 2014, that game will be against Buffalo, not the Dolphins or Jets. The Patriots will travel to Orchard Park, N.Y., on Sunday, Jan. 8 for a date with Josh Allen and the Bills.

The Bills are the two-time defending AFC East champions, and they blasted the Patriots out of last season’s playoffs, rolling to a 47-17 win in the wild-card round. Will New England be able to stay close enough to Buffalo in the standings to make this Week 18 matchup matter?

Pats-Bills Round 1 also will be a late-season encounter, with Allen and Co. visiting Gillette on “Thursday Night Football” in Week 13.

8. That’s right, the Patriots will play back-to-back Thursday night games in Weeks 12 and 13. That’s a first in franchise history.

They’ll then have a prolonged break before visiting Arizona on Monday night Week 14 and Vegas on a Sunday night in Week 15 — a rare streak of four consecutive primetime games that shows the NFL’s schedule-makers expect the Patriots to be competitive into December.

The Patriots could opt to stay out west between that second set of games to minimize travel. They’ve done so several times in the past, most recently practicing in Los Angeles between a back-to-back against the Chargers and Rams in 2020.

9. The Patriots’ closing stretch is no picnic. After Thanksgiving, they finish with Buffalo (home), Arizona (road), Vegas (road), Cincinnati (home) — the first NFL matchup between Jones and Joe Burrow — Miami (home) and Buffalo again (road).

New England ran out of gas late last season, dropping three of their final four regular-season games before being blown out in the first round of the playoffs.

Thumbnail photo via Mark Konezny/USA TODAY Sports Images
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick
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