The NFL will publish the full 2017 schedule of games tonight.
In their never-ending quest to be the 12-month focus for sports fans, the league will go further than that. The NFL will make this announcement as part of a special broadcast on their own television network. This is all in accordance with their recent marketing strategy.
On April 7th the league announced that in three days they would announce who each team’s preseason opponents would be. We still don’t know those exact dates yet, that is saved for another sports news cycle. Maybe that will be part of tonight’s festivities, like a warm-up band for the main act. But don’t be surprised if that breaking news will instead be saved for another day, when the league would otherwise be ignored. Next up, an announcement of when the NFL will announce the date of their next announcement. Roger that, 4/20.
All this fanfare and suspense is produced despite the public knowledge of who every team’s 2017 opponents would be back on New Year’s Day when the 2016 regular season ended. Every team plays their division opponents twice, home and away. Teams from one division play each team from another division within their conference on a rotating basis. Four more games are played against a non-conference division, also on a defined rotation. That makes fourteen out of sixteen opponents set for years to come in upcoming schedules. The last two games are determined by division standings. A first place team in one division plays the two remaining division winners within their conference. Then the second place teams play each other, etc.
Every season the Patriots will have six division games: two each, home and away versus the Jets, Dolphins and Bills. This year the AFC East will play the AFC West; the Pats will host the Chiefs and Chargers and be on the road against the Broncos and Raiders. As part of the NFL’s global expansion the Patriots-Raiders game will take place in Mexico City, one of five international games this season. Sorry Vegas, you will have to wait until 2023 to watch the Patriots live. You can however go ahead and place your bets now on whether or not Tom Brady will still be New England’s starting quarterback by then.
The other part of the schedule rotation has the AFC East facing the NFC South in 2017. Because the last Buccaneer ‘home game’ against the Patriots was played in London, this makes the first time that the Patriots have played a regular season game in Tampa since before the NFL went to the current eight division alignment – and with it the current schedule rotation. It has been twenty years since the Pats played a real game off Dale Mabry Highway.
Tampa area fans will finally get a chance to see the Patriots live in a real game without having to drive several hours to Miami or Jacksonville. Expect Raymond James Stadium to look and sound like a home game for the Patriots. The other NFC South games are at New Orleans and home versus two previous Superbowl opponents, Atlanta and Carolina. The Superbowl 51 rematch with the Falcons will presumably be a prime time event. I am expecting this game to occur in November since that is television ratings sweep month.
As noted above the other two games are determined by final regular season standings. Since the AFC East is already playing the AFC West, those last two opponents will come from the AFC North and AFC South. Both of these games will be rematches from last season’s playoffs. The Patriots will play the Steelers at Heinz Field in what will likely be another prime time game, and face off against the Texans at Gillette Stadium.
The full schedule will be announced at 8:00 pm eastern time on the NFL Network, though we should know more before then. Like anxious kids on Christmas Day, teams can’t contain themselves and typically leak some schedule information over the course of the day. Unless of course that is actually part of the NFL’s whole marketing strategy to keep you focused 24/7 on their sport.
Back to the Future
For those looking even further ahead, here are future Patriot opponents. The final two games are against the team from that division that finishes in the same spot in the previous year’s standings.
2018: AFC South, NFC North
Home: Bills, Dolphins, Jets, Texans, Colts, Packers, Vikings, AFC West.
Away: Bills, Dolphins, Jets, Jaguars, Titans, Bears, Lions, AFC North.
2019: AFC North, NFC East
Home: Bills, Dolphins, Jets, Browns, Steelers, Cowboys, Giants, AFC West
Away: Bills, Dolphins, Jets, Ravens, Bengals, Eagles, Redskins, AFC South
2020: AFC West, NFC West
Home: Bills, Dolphins, Jets, Broncos, Raiders, Cardinals, 49ers, AFC North
Away: Bills, Dolphins, Jets, Chiefs, Chargers, Rams, Seahawks, AFC South
2021: AFC South, NFC South
Home: Bills, Dolphins, Jets, Jaguars, Titans, Saints, Buccaneers, AFC North
Away: Bills, Dolphins, Jets, Texans, Colts, Falcons, Panthers, AFC West
2:00 pm edit: Thus far three Patriot games have been leaked:
Week One on Thursday night (September 7) will be the home opener versus the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Patriots will play the Raiders on Sunday night in Week 11 (November 19) in Mexico City per an NFL Network and ESPN broadcaster.
Atlanta sports talk radio host Mike Bell claims to have the entire Falcons’ schedule, which includes a week seven (Oct 22) game against the Patriots.
3:00 pm edit: Earlier today the Patriots announced the specific dates and times for their four preseason games.
As we await tonight's 8pm regular season schedule release, a look at our preseason dates & times: pic.twitter.com/TvvugFjxnp
3:30 pm edit: Mike Bell has deleted his tweet, so cross off Week 7 as being against the Falcons.
From what looks to be somebody at nfl.com, the Patriots will host the Jets in Week 17 (December 31).
4:20 pm edit: per Saints beat reporter Nick Underhill, the Patriots will be in New Orleans in Week 2. Brandin Cooks versus his old team.
Rumored 2017 Schedule
4:20 pm edit: If a variety of sources are to be believed, this will be the 2017 schedule:
Wk1 on NBC, 8:30 pm Thursday September 7: home vs Kansas City Chiefs (TNF)
Wk2 on CBS, 1:00 pm Sunday September 17: at New Orleans Saints
Wk3 on CBS, 1:00 pm Sunday September 24: home vs Houston Texans
Wk4 on Fox, 1:00 pm Sunday October 1: home vs Carolina Panthers
Wk5 on CBS, 8:25 pm Thursday October 5: at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (TNF)
Wk6 on CBS, 1:00 pm Sunday October 15: at New York Jets
Wk7 on NBC, 8:30 pm Sunday October 22: home vs Atlanta Falcons (SNF)
Wk8 on CBS, 1:00 pm Sunday October 29: home vs Los Angeles Chargers
Week 9: bye
Wk10 on NBC, 8:30 pm Sunday November 12: at Denver Broncos (SNF)
Wk11 on CBS, 4:25 pm Sunday November 19: at Las Vegas Raiders (Mexico City)
Wk12 on CBS, 1:00 pm Sunday November 26: home vs Miami Dolphins
Wk13 on CBS, 1:00 pm Sunday December 3: at Buffalo Bills
Wk14 on BSPN, 8:30 pm Monday December 11: at Miami Dolphins (MNF)
Wk15 on CBS, 4:25 pm Sunday December 17: at Pittsburgh Steelers
Wk16 on CBS, 1:00 pm Sunday December 24: home vs Buffalo Bills
Wk17 on CBS, 1:00 pm Sunday December 31: home vs New York Jets
Any stretch of three consecutive road games is brutal and schedule makers should really avoid them if at all possible. This one is particularly egregious because the third road game (a) comes after a short week, (b) is also the fifth road game in 36 days, and (c) is against the next best team in the conference.
The Week 10 and 11 games are poorly planned as well. Often on a long trip such as that the team would stay out west, but spending a week in Mexico may be ill advised, wanting to avoid Montezuma’s Revenge. That means a long late flight out of Denver, then another long flight a few days later to Mexico City. No bueno.
Posted Under: NFL Commentary
Tags: AFC West Atlanta Falcons Houston Texans Las Vegas Raiders London New England Patriots NFC South NFL NFL Calendar NFL Network NFL schedule Patriots Pats Pittsburgh Steelers schedule Tampa Bay Bucs