AFC East: NFL Schedule Analysis 2011
Three of their first four games will be on the road. They'll open at the Miami Dolphins on Monday night, visit the Buffalo Bills in Week 3 and travel across the country to play the Oakland Raiders in Week 4.
The lone home game in that stretch is against the San Diego Chargers in Week 2. The Patriots' next game in Gillette Stadium will be against the New York Jets in Week 5.
If the Patriots get in a hole, then they could have a nice opportunity to climb out of it in December. They'll close the season against opponents that went a combined 21-43 last season: at the Washington Redskins, at the Denver Broncos and home against the Dolphins and Bills.
Complaint department: How about this for a nasty stretch of games? The Patriots better cherish that Week 7 bye because their next six opponents went a combined 63-33 last season with no record worse than 10-6. The Patriots must navigate five playoff teams in that stretch, with the New York Giants the exception. The other foes are the Pittsburgh Steelers, Jets, Kansas City Chiefs, Philadelphia Eagles and Indianapolis Colts.
Annual tradition: The annual Patriots-Colts game will take place on Sunday night in Week 13 at Gillette Stadium. It will be their ninth straight regular-season meeting, the longest ongoing streak between non-divisional opponents.
The Colts lost six in a row from 2001 through 2004, then won five of the next six games. The Patriots beat them 31-28 last season. Each of their past five games, including the playoffs, has been decided by four points or fewer.
Patriots Regular-Season Schedule (All times Eastern)
Week 1: Monday, Sep. 12, at Miami, 7:00 PM
Week 2: Sunday, Sep. 18, San Diego, 4:15 PM
Week 3: Sunday, Sep. 25, at Buffalo, 1:00 PM
Week 4: Sunday, Oct. 2, at Oakland, 4:15 PM
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 9, NY Jets, 4:15 PM
Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 16, Dallas, 4:15 PM
Week 7: BYE
Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 30, at Pittsburgh, 4:15 PM
Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 6, NY Giants, 4:15 PM
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 13, at NY Jets, 8:20 PM
Week 11: Monday, Nov. 21, Kansas City, 8:30 PM
Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 27, at Philadelphia, 4:15 PM
Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 4, Indianapolis, 8:20 PM
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 11, at Washington, 1:00 PM
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 18, at Denver, 4:15 PM
Week 16: Saturday, Dec. 24, Miami, 1:00 PM
Week 17: Sunday, Jan. 1, Buffalo, 1:00 PM
They're scheduled for five more prime-time games this year, one more than the New England Patriots. The Jets won't play their second 1 p.m. Sunday game until Week 7.
"That really speaks volumes about our team, where our franchise is at, and how the league and everybody else in the league basically sees us the same way," Jets head coach Rex Ryan said in a statement released Tuesday night by the club. "They know we're an elite team and I think that's why we have five prime-time games."
The Jets have a favorably placed bye in Week 8 and a Thursday night game at Denver in Week 11, providing them 10 days until they host the Buffalo Bills in Week 12.
The Jet-Patriots rivalry will resume Week 5 at Gillette Stadium and return to the Meadowlands on Sunday night in Week 10.
Another game of note is Week 16 against the New York Giants on Christmas Eve.
Complaint department: The Jets must fight through three straight road games in September and October to get off to another great start. They begin with back-to-back home games but then visit the Oakland Raiders, Baltimore Ravens and Patriots in Weeks 3 through 5. A cross-continent trip and two straight emotional grudge matches will be a difficult test.
Twins piqued: Get ready for some furious Ryan-on-Ryan verbal combat. The Jets open their regular season against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night at the Meadowlands. Rex Ryan's twin brother, Rob Ryan, is the Cowboys' new defensive coordinator. The week leading up to last year's brotherly showdown -- Rob Ryan was the Cleveland Browns' defensive coordinator -- was highly entertaining. Each trash-talking brother impersonated the other with a makeshift costume and told humorous stories about the other.
Jets Regular-Season Schedule (All times Eastern)
Week 1: Sunday, Sep. 11, Dallas, 8:20 PM
Week 2: Sunday, Sep. 18, Jacksonville, 1:00 PM
Week 3: Sunday, Sep. 25, at Oakland, 4:05 PM
Week 4: Sunday, Oct. 2, at Baltimore, 8:20 PM
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 9, at New England, 4:15 PM
Week 6: Monday, Oct. 17, Miami, 8:30 PM
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 23, San Diego, 1:00 PM
Week 8: BYE
Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 6, at Buffalo, 1:00 PM
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 13, New England, 8:20 PM
Week 11: Thursday, Nov. 17, at Denver, 8:20 PM
Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 27, Buffalo, 1:00 PM
Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 4, at Washington, 1:00 PM
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 11, Kansas City, 1:00 PM
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 18, at Philadelphia, 4:15 PM
Week 16: Saturday, Dec. 24, NY Giants, 1:00 PM
Week 17: Sunday, Jan. 1, at Miami, 1:00 PM
This season's schedule doesn't provide much more variety. The Bills will have two -- count 'em, two -- kickoffs in the 4 o'clock hour, but one of those games will take place against the San Diego Chargers in the Pacific time zone.
The other "late game" will be their annual trip to Toronto. Contrary to a report from a Toronto radio station, the Bills won't play the Philadelphia Eagles at the Rogers Centre in November. Not even close. The Bills will play the Washington Redskins there Oct. 30.
Complaint department: The Bills own the NFL's second-toughest schedule based on their opponents' 2010 records. The main reason for that are two games apiece against the 14-2 New England Patriots and the 11-5 New York Jets.
By the time the Bills have their bye in Week 7, they will have met one team that had a losing record last season -- a trip to the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 4.
Quirky division schedule: Unlike last season, when the Bills had faced every AFC East opponent by Week 4, they will have played only one divisional game through Week 8. Five of their last nine games are against the division, including the Jets and Miami Dolphins twice apiece in that span. The Bills' games against the Jets take place 21 days apart in Weeks 9 and 12.
Bills Regular-Season Schedule (All times Eastern)
Week 1: Sunday, Sep. 11, at Kansas City, 1:00 PM
Week 2: Sunday, Sep. 18, Oakland, 1:00 PM
Week 3: Sunday, Sep. 25, New England, 1:00 PM
Week 4: Sunday, Oct. 2, at Cincinnati, 1:00 PM
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 9, Philadelphia, 1:00 PM
Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 16, at NY Giants, 1:00 PM
Week 7: BYE
Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 30, Washington, 4:05 PM
Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 6, NY Jets, 1:00 PM
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 13, at Dallas, 1:00 PM
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 20, at Miami, 1:00 PM
Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 27, at NY Jets, 1:00 PM
Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 4, Tennessee, 1:00 PM
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 11, at San Diego, 4:15 PM
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 18, Miami, 1:00 PM
Week 16: Saturday, Dec. 24, Denver, 1:00 PM
Week 17: Sunday, Jan. 1, at New England, 1:00 PM