- Mike Reiss, ESPN Staff Writer
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Rapid reaction from the Patriots' 2013 schedule:
1. Bye is ideally placed. The bye week lands in a nice spot, on the weekend of Nov. 9-10. The Patriots will have played nine games at that point. A good time on the calendar for injured players to heal and prepare themselves for the home stretch.
2. Opening on road for third straight year. After opening in Miami two years ago, and Tennessee last year, the Patriots hit the road for the third straight season -- at Buffalo. The last time the Patriots opened at Buffalo? The Lawyer Milloy Game in 2003 (when Milloy was released the week before and sparked the Bills to a 31-0 rout). The Bills have a new regime with coach Doug Marrone, and a big question mark at quarterback, so their moves will be watched with extra attention in the coming months.
3. A win for the home fans. Unlike the 2012 schedule, when there were two prime-time home games in December, Patriots fans get a well-deserved break this year. The home prime-time games are Thursday, Sept. 12 (home opener vs. Jets) and Sunday, Nov. 24 (vs. Broncos). No potentially bitter cold nights at Gillette ... until, perhaps, the playoffs (unless the flexible schedule alters that). The other prime-time games -- vs. Falcons (Sunday, Sept. 29), Panthers (Monday, Nov. 18) and Ravens (Sunday, Dec. 22) are on the road.
4. Short week for Broncos prep. The Patriots play one Monday night game, at Carolina (who had that one picked for prime-time?), and it's notable that the short week that follows leads into a highly anticipated home game against the Broncos. The Broncos will be coming off a home game against the Chiefs.
5. Buccaneers-Jets opener should help early scouting. A minor point, but one that surely didn't slip by Bill Belichick. With the Buccaneers opening the season at the Jets, that's a chance for nice advance scouting for the Patriots, who host the Jets in Week 2, and then the Buccaneers the following week.
6. Unlikely for joint practices with Buccaneers? The Patriots host the Buccaneers on Aug. 16 in preseason action, and then the Buccaneers return to town on Sept. 22 for a regular-season matchup. Just a hunch -- Bill Belichick and Greg Schiano might pass on joint practices this time around. If the regular-season game was a bit later in the season, maybe they would have considered it. But hard to imagine the two teams practicing together on the same field and then playing a game that counts almost a month later.
7. No opponents coming off bye weeks. For what it's worth, the Patriots don't face a team coming off a bye week.
8. Like the placement of the Ravens game. A Dec. 22 game against the Ravens is an unexpected gem in the Week 16 slate. Thought it would have been earlier. A good test to get a team ready for the playoffs, if all goes according to plans for both clubs.