FOXBOROUGH, Mass.- The National Football League announced the 2016 regular season schedule tonight and the defending AFC East Champion New England Patriots and their fans learned that the team will open the season against the defending NFC South Champion Arizona Cardinals on NBC's Sunday Night Football on Kickoff Weekend. It is the second straight season the Patriots will open the season in prime time and the first time in team history the team will open the season on Sunday Night Football. It is the ninth time overall the Patriots will open the year in a prime time nationally-televised game. Last season, the Patriots kicked off the season as defending Super Bowl Champions, hosting the Pittsburgh Steelers on the NFL's Thursday night season premiere. The Patriots have opened the season in three Thursday Night games and five Monday Night games.
Including the season opener, the Patriots are scheduled to play in five nationally-televised games during the regular season, including three at Gillette Stadium. After opening in prime time at Arizona, the Patriots will host the Houston Texans on Thursday Night Football on Sept. 22, in Week 3. The Patriots are 7-1 on Thursday Night Football under head coach Bill Belichick. The Patriots are scheduled for their next prime time contests with two Sunday Night Football games in a three-week period. In Week 10, the Patriots will host the Seattle Seahawks in a rematch of Super Bowl XLIX in a Sunday Night Football game on Nov. 13. Then, on Nov. 27, the Patriots will travel to face the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium in a Sunday Night game in Week 12. The Patriots final scheduled prime time game is slated for Week 14 when they host the Baltimore Ravens in a Monday Night Football game on Dec. 12.
The Patriots will visit the following stadiums during the 2016 NFL season.
The Patriots will open the 2016 campaign on the road for the fifth time in the last six seasons when they travel to face Arizona. It will also be just the fifth time the Patriots will open the season against an NFC opponent, the first time since opening at home against Tampa Bay in 2000. The only time the Patriots have opened the season against an NFC opponent on the road was in 1992 when they traveled to Los Angeles to battle the Rams.
New England will open their home schedule in Week 2 when they host the Miami Dolphins on Sun., Sept. 18. It will mark the seventh time the Patriots will play against the Dolphins in their home opener. The Patriots are 13-1 in home openers since Gillette Stadium opened in 2002.
The Patriots will face six playoff teams from 2015 with home games vs. Houston, Cincinnati and Seattle and road games at Arizona, Pittsburgh and Denver. The Patriots will travel to face the Broncos in a rematch of the 2015 AFC Championship Game in Week 15 on Sun., Dec. 18.
The Patriots have gone 15 straight seasons without being swept by a division opponent. In addition to the two divisional games, the Patriots will also play one game against each of the AFC North and NFC West teams. New England owns a 54-11 (.804 winning pct.) record against NFC teams since realignment in 2002, the best inter-conference record in the NFL during that time. Additionally, as the defending AFC East Champions, the Patriots will play the first-place team of the AFC South (Houston) and AFC West (Denver).
Check out some of the top players set to play at Gillette Stadium versus the Patriots during the 2016 NFL season.
PATRIOTS 2016 SCHEDULE WEEK-BY-WEEK
The Patriots open the 2016 season on Sept. 11, with a return trip to the site of Super Bowl XLIX to square off against the Arizona Cardinals in a Sunday Night Football matchup.
The Patriots then open up their 2016 home slate with three consecutive games at Gillette Stadium. On Sept. 18, the Patriots face AFC East foe Miami. New England has won 14 of their last 20 regular-season games against the Dolphins, by outscoring them, 555 to 370.
A Week 3 game on Sept. 22 features the Patriots only Thursday night game when they face the Houston Texans. Bill Belichick will square off against former Patriots offensive coordinator, Bill O'Brien, against whom he owns a 1-0 record, following a 27-6 win at Houston in 2015. Overall, Belichick is 6-4 when playing former coordinators who became head coaches.
In Week 4, on Oct. 2, the Patriots welcome the Buffalo Bills to Gillette Stadium for a Sunday Night Football matchup. Tom Brady is 25-3 against Buffalo in his career and needs one more win to tie Brett Favre (26 wins vs. Detroit) for most wins by a starting quarterback against a single opponent.
The Patriots travel to Cleveland in Week 5, on Oct. 9, to square off against the Browns on the road for the first time since 2010, a game the Patriots lost, 34-14. New England has not won in Cleveland since 2004.
Week 6 features a home matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals on Oct. 16. The Patriots are 6-0 when hosting the Bengals since 1986.
The Patriots visit the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 7, on Oct. 23, for the first time since 2011 in a matchup that will feature two quarterbacks - Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger - who have started nine of the last 15 Super Bowls combined.
The Patriots then travel to Buffalo to play the Bills in Week 8 on Oct. 30, ahead of their Week 9 Bye. New England has not played at Buffalo this late in the season since a Week 16 matchup in 2010. The past five road games at Buffalo have all been played in either September or early October.
The Patriots will have two weeks to prepare for a Super Bowl XLIX rematch with the Seattle Seahawks on Nov. 13. The Seahawks will visit Gillette Stadium for the first time since 2004 in a matchup that will feature Tom Brady (.771) and Russell Wilson (.719), who rank first and second among QBs in regular-season winning percentage.
A slate of back-to-back road games starts with New England's first trip to Levi's Stadium in Week 11 on Nov. 20, to play the San Francisco 49ers. Levi's Stadium marks one of only four NFL venues (Minnesota's U.S. Bank Stadium, Seattle's CenturyLink Field and Tampa Bay's Raymond James Stadium), where Tom Brady has not won a regular-season start. Brady is 0-1 at Seattle and has never played at Raymond James Stadium or at the Vikings' new venue and 2016 will mark his first career game on the road against his childhood team, the 49ers.
The Patriots then travel to MetLife Stadium in Week 12, on Nov. 27, for their first of two matchups against the N.Y. Jets. Tom Brady owns a 22-7 career record against the Jets.
The Patriots return home for a Week 13 game, on Dec. 4, against the L.A. Rams. The last time the Patriots faced the Rams as a Los Angeles franchise was for the season opener on Sept. 13, 1992, at Anaheim Stadium, when L.A. shut out New England, 14-0.
Week 14 features New England's lone Monday Night Football matchup of the season, when the Baltimore Ravens travel to Gillette Stadium on Dec. 12. The Patriots and Ravens last played each other on Monday Night Football in 2007 when New England defeated Baltimore to improve to 12-0, en route to the first 16-0 regular season in NFL history.
New England returns to Denver in Week 15 for the third time in two seasons to face the Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Patriots own an 8-9 overall record against the Broncos since 2000, marking the only team in the league with a winning record against the Patriots since Bill Belichick was hired as head coach. This season marks the sixth straight season these non-division opponents will square off, including twice in 2011, 2013 and 2015.
The Patriots close out the regular season with consecutive division games. Week 16 features a Christmas Eve matchup against the N.Y. Jets at Gillette Stadium. The last time the Patriots played on Christmas Eve, they pulled out a 27-24 win over the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium in 2011.
New England then closes out the regular season for the second straight year with a trip to visit the Miami Dolphins at SunLife Stadium on Jan. 1. The Patriots will be looking to snap a three-game losing streak at Miami.
2016 PRESEASON SCHEDULE
|**Date**||**Opponent**||**Time (ET)**||**TV Coverage**|
|Thursday, August 11||New Orleans Saints||7:30pm||WBZ / Patriots Preseason Network|
|Thursday, August 18||Chicago Bears||8:00pm||WBZ / Patriots Preseason Network|
|Friday, August 26||at Carolina||7:30pm||WBZ / Patriots Preseason Network|
|Thursday, September 1||at New York Giants||7:00pm||WBZ / Patriots Preseason Network|
2016 REGULAR SEASON SCHEDULE
|**Date**||**Opponent**||**Time (ET)**||**TV COVERAGE**|
|Sunday, September 11||**at Arizona Cardinals**||**8:30pm**||**NBC**|
|Sunday, September 18||Miami Dolphins||1:00pm||CBS|
|Thursday, September 22||**Houston Texans**||**8:25pm**||**CBS/NFLN/Twitter**|
|Sunday, October 2||Buffalo Bills||1:00pm||CBS|
|Sunday, October 9||at Cleveland Browns*||1:00pm||CBS|
|Sunday, October 16||Cincinnati Bengals*||1:00pm||CBS|
|Sunday, October 23||at Pittsburgh Steelers*||4:25pm||CBS|
|Sunday, October 30||at Buffalo Bills*||1:00pm||CBS|
|Sunday, November 13||**Seattle Seahawks***||**8:30pm**||**NBC**|
|Sunday, November 20||at San Francisco 49ers*||4:25pm||CBS|
|Sunday, November 27||**at New York Jets***||**8:30pm**||**NBC**|
|Sunday, December 4||Los Angeles Rams*||1:00pm||FOX|
|Monday, December 12||**Baltimore Ravens**||**8:30pm**||**ESPN**|
|Sunday, December 18||at Denver Broncos*||4:25pm||CBS|
|Saturday, December 24||New York Jets||1:00pm||CBS|
|Sunday, January 1||at Miami Dolphins*||1:00pm||CBS|
*- Game time and network subject to possible flexible scheduling adjustment.
Bold indicates nationally televised games.