We already knew whom the Patriots would be playing against in 2014, we just didn't know when, until Wednesday, when the entire NFL schedule was released.
Now that we've had some time to digest the order of the games, let's talk about the ones to which we'll most be looking forward.
I know that many of you will disagree with me on this point, and that's fine, but I have no interest in any of the division games. Yes, they'll be competitive, and the Patriots might even lose one or two of them, but when you see the same teams over and over and over again, year after year after year… it gets old. So, I'm discounting the six games against Buffalo, Miami, and the New York Jets.
I also have very little interest in the Raiders game, even though it's the home opener. Oakland might be an improved club with some of the offseason acquisitions it has made. If this game were at the Black Hole, I might be more inclined to include it, but it's not.
So, that eliminates seven of New England's 16 regular season contests. Here's how I rank the remaining nine, in ascending order:
- atMinnesota: Adrian Peterson's still the best ball carrier in football. And I've never been to the Twin Cities. The new Vikings stadium won't be open yet, which means we'll be playing this game on the University of Minnesota campus. From what I've seen on TV, this is a nice little place.
- Chicago : The Bears should've made the playoffs last year, but dropped the ball when it counted. They're still a good team, though, and Jay Cutler's a dangerous QB. Could be a battle.
- Cincinnati : The Bengals beat New England in a sloppy game in Cincy last year. Both teams made the playoffs, which makes this an important game for potential 2014 postseason seeding.
View the complete 2014 New England Patriots schedule now.
- Detroit : Darrelle Revis covering Calvin Johnson. Intriguing is such an insufficient adjective to describe this, but it'll have to do for now.
- at Kansas City : The Chiefs were a playoff team last year under first-year coach Andy Reid. But I'm most looking forward to this game because it'll be my first trip to Arrowhead, one of the most glorified venues in the NFL.
- at Indianapolis : Andrew Luck is a special player. It'll be fun to watch him continue to mature as a quarterback. Colts-Patriots games remain special thanks to Luck.
- at San Diego : Oh, the schedule makers were very kind indeed when slotting this matchup. On Pearl Harbor Day, the Patriots will be as close as possible to the Hawaiian Islands on the mainland United States. Plus, West Coast trips usually mean leaving a day earlier than usual. Extra day in sunny San Diego in December? I'll take it.
- at Green Bay : Trips to Lambeau are rare indeed for the Patriots, and this will be my first visit to the storied stadium. Plus, it's Thanksgiving weekend, meaning snow's a legitimate possibility. Tundra could be frozen. Oh, and a potential Super Bowl preview. Can't wait.
- Denver : Brady-Manning XVI. Playoff seeding implications (read "home-field advantage"). What else needs to be said? This game is currently slated as a 4:25 kickoff, but something tells me it will be flexed to the Sunday Night game.
**Now, your turn. Which Patriots game or games are you most looking forward to watching this fall, and why? Let us know with a comment below.