If, at first glance, you think you've seen New England's 2022 schedule before, that might be because it's laid out a lot like 2014. That year, of course, the Patriots won their fourth Super Bowl title, but not before starting out with four road games in the first six weeks, including a pair of away games to kick off the campaign.
Such is the case again in 2022, when – just like in '14 – they'll start the year with a 1 p.m. kickoff in Miami. Again in a throwback to '14, New England will be granted its bye in Week 10 and close out the regular season against AFC East foe Buffalo (albeit on the road, rather than at home, as they did eight years ago).
After the bye, New England must hit the road three times in a four-week span, similar again to its 2014 schedule following the break. Also of note, the Patriots' pre-bye slate this coming fall is loaded with 1 o'clock starts, while the post-bye features an unprecedented four consecutive nationally televised prime time slots.
The first half of that stretch is noteworthy because it falls on Thanksgiving night out in Minnesota (New England also coincidentally visited the Vikings early in 2014). New England then gets the treatment the Cowboys have received in recent years by playing Thursday night games in back-to-back weeks.
Thereafter, the second half of the three-week prime time schedule is intriguing because it has the Patriots traveling to Arizona and Las Vegas in consecutive weeks in mid-December. If past once more is prologue, then head coach Bill Belichick will likely arrange to have his team stay out in the desert for that week in between games to reduce the jet lag of flying cross-country more than necessary.
New England has done this several times before during the regular season including in – stop me if you've heard this before – that's right … 2014, when they traveled to Green Bay and San Diego in December, practicing in between at a college facility in SoCal. My guess is, the club will stay in Arizona and not Vegas (for obvious reasons) to limit the potential distractions and temptations that could come with an extended road trip.
Besides, the Patriots will have not one, but two trips to Sin City this season, counting the preseason finale against old pal Josh McDaniels' new club. Speaking of which, might a few days of joint training camp practices be in the works there? No word yet, but the possibility certainly exists.
Finally, given how consequential last year's Buffalo-New England games proved with respect to postseason positioning, it's little surprise that the Bills and Patriots are set to meet at the conclusion of the regular season.
However, the league is anticipating another possible meaningful matchup there, as evidenced by the fact that this game has been given TBD status. It'll take place either on Saturday or Sunday of Week 18 in early January. Depending on how important the outcome could be to the AFC East and playoff standings, the NFL is holding the option of making this a centerpiece broadcast of the final week of the season.