Playoff rematches to start.
Out-of-town, mid-season specials.
A December that puts the "home" in home stretch.
And several nationally televised nightcaps.
Welcome to the New England Patriots' 2007 regular season. Everything on the menu looks delicious.
So, let's dig in…
New England will start its regular season with the two teams they beat in last year's playoffs.
Week One: Eric Mangini's New York Jets in the Meadowlands on September 9th. The following Sunday night on NBC, the Pats welcome the San Diego Chargers to the East Coast.
September ends at home again, with New England hosting Buffalo on the 23rd, while October begins with the two teams from Ohio. The Pats travel to Cincinnati on the first before hosting old friend Romeo Crennel and Cleveland on the 7th.
So, in the first month or so of action, New England has two division games, two national TV games, and two games against former Patriots coaches. Plus, they host the team with the best record in football last season (San Diego).
With three of those first five contests here at Gillette, home field advantage could be crucial.
Pack your bags, Pats fans, and buckle up. We're hitting the road for quite a while.
From mid-October to mid-November, the Patriots will play only one home game, October 28 versus Washington. On back-to-back Sundays (the 14th and 21st), they'll travel first to Dallas, then Miami.
The long road trip concludes with consecutive November away games in Indianapolis (the 4th) and Buffalo (the 18th), with the bye week falling in between on Veterans Day weekend.
This could be tough. However, Big D is the farthest the Pats will have to travel in '07, and it's the first junket of this long stretch. Each road trip thereafter will be shorter than the last. If New England can replicate last year's road success (8-2 in visiting stadiums, including playoffs), they could be in position to make a playoff run.
Here's where things could get very interesting.
Following the mid-November bye, the Patriots could see all their remaining games become nationally televised contests (three are already scheduled as such; the rest are subject to change).
The Eagles come to town the Sunday after Thanksgiving. As of today, that game is NBC's Sunday Night feature. A week later, the Pats head to Baltimore for a Monday Night Football appearance on ESPN December 3rd.
After that, Pittsburgh, the Jets, and Miami all come to Gillette, before New England concludes the regular season where it started. The Pats return to the Meadowlands to take on the New York Giants in a Saturday night affair on NFL Network.
So, four of the Patriots' final six games are in Foxboro, including three in a row in December. And with this past winter being so mild, we're due for a snowy start to the holiday season.
For those hungry for football, New England's 2007 schedule is a mouth-watering feast for the eyes.