New England Patriots' 2022 schedule: Four straight prime-time games

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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The New England Patriots' 2022 schedule was released along with the rest of the NFL slate Thursday.

The 2022 NFL season will kick off on Thursday, Sept. 8 with the Buffalo Bills vs. the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium. ESPN opens its schedule with Monday Night Football on Sept. 12 featuring the Denver Broncos at the Seattle Seahawks.

The NFL expanded to 17 regular-season games last season. The final regular-season games for the 2022 season will be played Jan. 8, 2023. The playoffs begin Jan. 14 and continue through Super Bowl LVII on Feb. 12 in Glendale, Arizona.

Here's what in store for the Patriots:

Schedule

Sept. 11: at Miami

Sept. 18: at Pittsburgh

Sept. 25: vs. Baltimore

Oct. 2: at Green Bay

Oct. 9: vs. Detroit

Oct. 16: at Cleveland

Oct. 24: vs. Chicago (MNF)

Oct. 30: at N.Y. Jets

Nov. 6: vs. Indianapolis

Nov. 13: BYE

Nov. 20: vs. N.Y. Jets

Nov. 24: at Minnesota (TNF)

Dec. 1: vs. Buffalo (TNF)

Dec. 12: at Arizona (MNF)

Dec. 18: at Las Vegas (SNF)

Dec. 24: vs. Cincinnati

Jan. 1: vs. Miami

Jan. 7/8: at Buffalo (TBD)

Strength of schedule: 16th, .498

Biggest takeaway

Four straight prime-time games from Nov. 24 to Dec. 18 -- three on the road and one against the defending AFC East champion Bills -- shows that the national intrigue surrounding the Patriots remains strong. The final two of those prime-time games -- at Arizona and at Las Vegas -- sets up a scenario where the Patriots can remain out West for the week as coach Bill Belichick often likes to do. Overall, the team has five prime-time games.

Also, this is the first time the Patriots will open with two straight road games since 2014. The bye is well placed after nine games -- directly in the middle of the season.

Revenge game

What will the offense look like Dec. 18 when the Patriots go up against their former coordinator, Josh McDaniels, in a prime-time matchup against the Las Vegas Raiders? The Patriots were hoping that the game would be played later in the season, in part because they wanted to play the Raiders in the preseason and practice with them before the preseason game. If the game was earlier in the season, that would have been tougher to pull off. Now those joint practices will happen.

What the oddsmakers think

The oddsmakers have the Patriots' win total at 8.5. Belichick's team needs a few things to happen to hit the over, starting with quarterback Mac Jones making the often-discussed second-year jump. There are big questions at linebacker and cornerback to answer as well, and the offensive coaching staff, where Matt Patricia and Joe Judge -- whose primary backgrounds are on defense and special teams, respectively -- are taking on lead roles.

Bold prediction

The Patriots will need to beat the Bills in the regular-season finale to secure a playoff berth, and it will be intriguing to see how it unfolds if Buffalo has already solidified its own playoff seeding. The Patriots' 2021 season ended in embarrassing fashion at Buffalo in a 47-17 playoff loss, and in this scenario, they would have a chance to write a different story a year later.