At first glance, this looks like as favorable a layout as can be expected for New England, especially in mid-season.
Despite starting out with three of four games on the road (the home opener at Gillette isn't until Sept. 21), the first two road trips are 1 o'clock kickoffs at Miami and Minnesota. The Raiders game in Foxborough is also an early tilt. Kansas City is the third road trip in the opening month, and also the first prime time game on Monday Night Football.
After that, the Patriots are essentially at home until mid-November. How? The only road game between Oct. 5 and Nov. 16 is a 1 p.m. contest at Buffalo on Oct. 12 – one of the two shortest road trips of the year for New England (New York Jets being the other).
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The Patriots host Cincinnati on Sunday Night Football on Oct. 5, but that is subject to the new flex schedule format, which can begin as early as Week 5. That game could be moved to early in the afternoon, but given the matchup, it seems likely to stay in prime time at this point. The day trip to Buffalo is followed by a Thursday night affair at Gillette against the Jets, giving New England semi-bye that weekend.
They return 10 days later, on Oct. 26 to host the Bears and Broncos in back-to-back home games, then get their official bye week on the second Sunday of November.
After the bye, there's another three-of-four-on-the-road stretch, which could be the toughest sledding of the year. A Sunday nighter at Indy on Nov. 16 precedes a 1 o'clock home game with Detroit. Then, on Thanksgiving weekend, the Patriots visit Green Bay for a late afternoon game. Weather could be a factor on the potentially frozen tundra of Lambeau Field.
However, a West Coast journey comes the following week, with the Patriots heading to sunny southern California to face the Chargers in San Diego. Right now, that's slated for Sunday Night Football as well, but could be flexed out to an earlier kickoff.
That brings us to the final three weeks of the year, and all the opponents are familiar AFC East foes: Miami at home, at the Jets, and home against Buffalo in the regular season finale. All those are 1 p.m. kickoffs.
All things considered, the 2014 schedule looks quite palatable for the Patriots.