Some quick-hit thoughts on the Patriotsí schedule, which has been released:
- Part of it is only the preseason, but thatís a tough stretch for the Patriots to close with two exhibitions on the road, and then start the regular season with three of four on the road. Thatís five of six on the road from mid-August through early October.
- With the Patriots opening the exhibition schedule Aug. 9, it looks like the Patriots will report to training camp July 25 with the first practice(s) the following day.
- As for the regular-season schedule, it seems to have a nice balance.
- The Patriots open with five of their first eight games on the road, and then close with five of eight at home.
- The Patriots open with two winnable games, at Tennessee (can be a tough place to play in the heat) and home against the Cardinals before the toughest three-game stretch of the early season: at Ravens, at Bills, and home to Peyton Manning and the Broncos.
- Thatís followed by a brutal travel stretch. Patriots fly west to Seattle, come home to face the Jets, and then fly to London to face the Rams before the Nov. 4 bye.
- The Patriots get to rest up for the Bills at home and host the rebuilding Colts.
- Then itís the last mountain on paper: four days before Thanksgiving at the Jets, at Dolphins, home to Texans and 49ers.
- Patriots close with three of four at home, including big matchups at home against the Texans and 49ers. Those warm-weather teams have a chance to play in tough conditions at Gillette in December.
- Patriots have four prime-time games: Sept. 23 at Baltimore (NBC), Thanksgiving night at Jets (NBC), Dec. 10 vs. Houston (ESPN), Dec. 16 vs. San Francisco (NBC). Last season the Patriots had four prime-time games as well, but the Colts were flexed out of Sunday Night Football.
- Patriots have nine 1 p.m. games. They were schedule for only four last season (ended up five).
- Both the Patriotsí short weeks (Nov. 22 at Jets, Dec. 16 vs. 49ers) happen in a four-game stretch.
- Patriots again wonít face the Jets in December.
- So much for the NFL scheduling more divisional games late to make the games more meaningful. The Patriots have one (vs. Miami) in the final four weeks and face the Dolphins twice in December.
News, analysis and commentary from the following Boston Globe and Boston.com writers: