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Sun., Sept. 12, 1 p.m. -- Bengals at Patriots (CBS)
The Bengals' defense was one of the NFL's stingiest last season and should provide a stiff early test, but they have a tough assignment in facing a team that has stewed over a playoff blowout loss all offseason. Bengals receiver Chad Ochocinco points to Leigh Bodden as one of the toughest cornerbacks he's faced over his career.
Sun., Sept. 19, 4:15 p.m. -- Patriots at Jets (CBS)
The Jets are coming off a short week after hosting a Monday night game against the Ravens in their new stadium. This looks like a good spot for the Patriots as receiver Santonio Holmes will also be serving his four-game suspension. On the flip side, how will Randy Moss respond to another challenge from Darrelle Revis?
Sun., Sept. 26, 1 p.m. -- Bills at Patriots (CBS)
The Bills project to have some early-season struggles as they implement their new 3-4 defense under first-year coach Chan Gailey and new defensive coordinator George Edwards. The Patriots will have two regular season games to study the Bills' new scheme, which should work to their advantage and eliminate some of the unknowns.
Mon., Oct. 4, 8:30 p.m. -- Patriots at Dolphins (ESPN)
The Dolphins are a tough team to project because a lot will depend on the progress of quarterback Chad Henne. Based on the Patriots' previous struggles in Miami, and the explosiveness that could result in receiver Brandon Marshall's addition to the Dolphins' lineup, this looks like a spot where the Patriots could face trouble.
>> BYE WEEK <<
Sun., Oct. 17, 1 p.m. -- Ravens at Patriots (CBS)
After last year's playoff beat down, coupled with the Ravens' acquisition of receiver Anquan Boldin this offseason, one figures that Baltimore would be entering this game as a favorite. The Ravens pushed the Patriots all over the field in the playoffs and this game should be a good barometer of how much tougher New England is in 2010.
Sun., Oct. 24, 4:15 p.m. -- Patriots at Chargers (CBS)
This looks like a tough spot for the Patriots, playing what figures to be a physical game at home the week before then making their longest trip of the season. The Chargers return home after back-to-back road games and they'll provide arguably the toughest early-season test to the Patriots' pass defense with their tall, rangy receiving corps.
Sun., Oct. 31, 4:15 -- Vikings at Patriots (FOX)
It will be interesting to see how much energy the Vikings bring to this game after visiting the Packers in a nationally televised Sunday night contest the week before. Brett Favre and his return to Lambeau is always a big story, and perhaps he'll be dealing with a hangover effect on his visit to Gillette Stadium. That is, if he comes back for another season.
Sun., Nov. 7, 1 p.m. -- Patriots at Browns (CBS)
If the Browns pick up where they left off last season, and the mix is right with head coach Eric Mangini and new personnel czar Mike Holmgren, this could be a tougher game than it looks like on the surface. The Browns will be coming off a bye week, as they are the only team the Patriots face in 2010 that will be coming off the bye.
Sun., Nov. 14, 8:20. -- Patriots at Steelers (NBC)
It would have helped the Patriots to face the Steelers earlier in the season with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger facing a suspension. One aspect to keep in mind with this game is that the Steelers will be on a short week after visiting the Bengals on Monday night the week before, so both clubs will be coming off physical tilts.
Sun., Nov. 21, 4:15 p.m. -- Colts at Patriots (CBS)
The Patriots will probably be mixing preparation for the Lions on Thanksgiving into their week, making this a challenge. The Patriots should be energized to be home against the Colts for the first time since 2006, but based on recent history and the current uncertainty with the Patriots' pass defense, it's hard to go against the Colts.
Thu., Nov. 25, 12:30 p.m. -- Patriots at Lions (CBS)
The Patriots might not face a more explosive receiver than Calvin Johnson, who can change a game in a hurry. If 2009 No. 1 overall draft choice Matthew Stafford takes the next step at quarterback, this could turn into an entertaining shootout. But at this point, one can't overlook that the Lions won just one game last season.
Sun., Dec. 6, 8:30 p.m. -- Jets at Patriots (ESPN)
Both teams will be coming off long weeks of preparation after playing on Thanksgiving, which will add a different wrinkle to the build-up to kickoff. This is the fifth of five prime-time games for the Jets in 2010 and that can often take a lot out of a team. Coach Rex Ryan is embracing the high expectations, and by this point, we'll see how his team has handled them.
Sun., Dec. 12, 1 p.m. -- Patriots at Bears (CBS)
The Bears have poured a lot into this season with their aggressive free-agent spending spree, but by this point, there is no guarantee that head coach Lovie Smith will still be pacing the sidelines as head coach.
Sun., Dec. 19, 8:20 -- Packers at Patriots (NBC)
Every year, there seems to be a game that produces an unexpected result, and this could be it. The Packers have one of the NFL's most explosive offenses behind quarterback Aaron Rodgers, and defensive coordinator Dom Capers could tap into some of his inside information from his 2008 season in New England to create some havoc.
Sun., Dec. 26, 1 p.m. -- Patriots at Bills (CBS)
If the Bills' season unfolds as they hope, they will have built some momentum under their new regime, and perhaps they've given the ball to quarterback Tim Tebow at this point. Still, it's hard to pick against the Patriots in this series until the Bills prove they can win one.
Sun., Jan. 2, 1 -- Dolphins at Patriots (CBS)
This could be for the division title if both teams have the seasons they hope for, creating the excitement that commissioner Roger Goodell desires by scheduling division games in the final week of the season. A lot will have changed from the teams' first meeting in Week 4.
Mike Reiss covers the Patriots for ESPN Boston. You can follow him on Twitter or leave a question for his weekly mailbag.