Give credit to the NFL; only they can turn what was recently a back page, small agate type news item into a primetime television production broadcast live on two networks. On Tuesday night the NFL officially announced its 2012 schedule after a day of tweaking interest with well-timed leaks of various games leading up to the event .

Here is a look at the New England Patriots 2012 schedule.

 

Week 1: Sunday September 9
Patriots at Tennessee Titans, 1:00 on CBS
2011: 9-7 (2nd in AFCS); scored 20.3 ppg (21st), allowed 19.8 ppg (8th)
Last meeting: Pats 59, Titans 0 (Oct 18, 2009)
All-time record: 22-16-1

Matt Hasselbeck resurrected his career with his best season since 2007, starting 16 games for just the fourth time in his 14-year career. Star running back Chris Johnson held out and never regained form as his production plummeted last year. The Patriots have lost to the Titans only once (in 2002) since they moved to Tennessee fifteen years ago.

 

Week 2: Sunday September 16
Patriots vs Arizona Cardinals, 1:00 on FOX
2011: 8-8 (2nd in NFCW); scored 19.5 ppg (24th), allowed 21.8 ppg (17th)
Last meeting: Pats 47, Cardinals 7 (Dec 21, 2008)
All-time record: 6-6
Arizona finished on an upswing, winning seven of their final nine games. Larry Fitzgerald had 80 receptions for 1411 yards and 8 touchdowns, Early Doucet and Andre Roberts combined for another 105 catches and 1275 yards, and Beanie Wells ran for 1047 yards and 10 touchdowns. The Pats have won the last five meetings between these two. The last time they lost was to the team that was then known as the Phoenix Cardinals was in 1991; Hugh Millen was the QB for the Pats and Tom Tupa was QB for the Cardinals.

 

Week 3: Monday September 24
Patriots at Baltimore Ravens, 8:20 on NBC
2011: 13-5 (1st in AFCN); scored 23.6 ppg (12th), allowed 16.6 ppg (3rd)
Last meeting: Pats won the 2011 AFCCG 23-20 (Jan 22, 2012)
All-time record: 7-1
The rematch of last year’s AFC conference championship game should be one of the best regular season games in the league in 2012. Since 2007 the Pats have defeated the Ravens four times; three times by a field goal and once by six points. The Ravens have only defeated the Pats once but it was a big one,  crushing the Patriots 33-14 in the 2009 playoffs.

 

Week 4: Sunday September 30
Patriots at Buffalo Bills, 1:00 on CBS
2011: 6-10 (3rd in AFCE); scored 23.2 ppg (14th); allowed 27.1 ppg (30th)
Last year at Buffalo: lost 34-31 in week 3 (Sept 25, 2011)
All time record: 62-41-1
With the addition of Mario Williams and Mark Anderson, oddsmakers may consider the Bills to be favored to win against the Pats for the first time since 2000. Okay, maybe that’s a stretch, but the point spread should be the lowest of any game between these two since then. This appears to be the Bills best chance to make the playoffs since Doug Flutie led them to the postseason in 1999.

 

Week 5: Sunday October 7
Patriots vs Denver Broncos, 4:15 on CBS
2011: 9-9 (1st in AFCW); scored 19.3 ppg (25th), allowed 24.4 ppg (24th)
Last meeting: Pats 45, Broncos 10 in the division round playoff game (Jan 14, 2012)
All-time record: 18-27
The Brady-Manning rivalry continues with this game, which I thought for sure would be scheduled during the November ratings sweeps period. The rematch with Denver should be a lot closer than last January’s playoff blowout with Peyton under center. Even though it is only fifth game of the year it will already be the fourth time Denver faces a 2011 playoff team. Good news for out of town fans that don’t subscribe to the Sunday Ticket: this game should be available in all markets except for San Francisco, Buffalo, Carolina and Jacksonville.

 

Week 6: Sunday October 14
Patriots at Seattle Seahawks, 4:00 on CBS
2011: 7-9, 3rd in NFCW; scored 20.1 ppg (23rd), allowed 19.7 ppg (7th)
Last meeting: Pats 24, Seahawks 21 (Dec 7, 2008)
All-time record: 8-7
The Pats make a cross country trip to meet former head coach Pete Carroll. New England has won the last two meetings against the Seahawks after losing five straight from 1989 to 1993. For the Patriots this will be their fourth road game in six weeks to start the schedule. Combine that with the coast-to-coast trip and being sandwiched between games against the Broncos and Jets, and it has the phrase ‘trap game’ written all over it. Hopefully this will not be a repeat of the letdown game at Cleveland a couple of years ago.

 

Week 7: Sunday October 21
Patriots vs New Jersey Jets, 4:15 on CBS
2011: 8-8 (2nd in AFCE); scored 23.6 ppg (13th), allowed 22.7 ppg (20th)
Last year in Foxboro: won 30-21 in week 5 (Oct 9, 2011)
All-time record: 53-52-1
Last year was the first season sweep in this series since 2007. Although the Jets begin the season with four out of six games at home it is not as if they won’t be tested at this point. This will be their fourth game against a 2011 playoff team, with previous games at Pittsburgh in week two, home against San Francisco in week four, and home again versus Houston on Monday Night Football in week five.

 

Week 8: Sunday October 28
Patriots ‘at’ St. Louis Rams (in London), 1:00 on CBS
2011: 2-14 (4th in NFCW); scored 12.1 ppg (32nd), allowed 25.4 ppg (26th)
Last meeting: won 23-16 (Oct 26, 2008)
All-time record: 6-5
The Rams’ defense may need the bye following the London game to regroup; in week seven they play the Packers. The Patriots have won three in a row against the Rams going back to Super Bowl 36; before that the last time the Pats won the Rams were in Los Angeles, in 1986. Perhaps the most important aspect of this game is to not see Jeff Fisher on the sideline congratulating one of his players for ending the season of a Patriots player.

 

Week 9: bye week


Week 10: Sunday November 11
Patriots vs Buffalo Bills, 1:00 on CBS
2011: 6-10 (3rd in AFCE); scored 23.2 ppg (14th); allowed 27.1 ppg (30th)
Last year home vs Buffalo: won 49-21 in week 17 (Jan 1, 2012)
All time record: 62-41-1
The toughest part of the Bills 2012 schedule begins and ends with games against the Pats. In between they are at San Francisco, at Arizona, home against the Titans, and then after a bye they go on the road again at Houston and then this game at Foxboro. Things get a lot easier for the Bills after that; none of their final seven games are against a team that had a winning record in 2011.

 

Week 11: Sunday November 18
Patriots vs Indianapolis Colts, 1:00 on CBS
2011: 2-14 (4th in AFCS); scored 15.2 ppg (28th); allowed 26.9 ppg (28th)
Last year at Foxboro: won 31-24 in week 13 (Dec 4, 2011)
All time record: 46-29
Did somebody forget to tell the schedule maker that it wasn’t necessary to put the Pats-Colts game in November? By this point the Patriots should have plenty of game film on Andrew Luck and all the other new players for Indy to review. The Pats have won the last two meetings after the Colts had won five of the previous six.

 

Week 12: Thursday November 22
Patriots at New Jersey Jets, 8:20 on NBC
2011: 8-8 (2nd in AFCE); scored 23.6 ppg (13th), allowed 22.7 ppg (20th)
Last year at Exit 16W: won 37-16 in week 10 (Nov 13, 2011)
All-time record: 53-52-1
Any guesses on who will be the starting QB for guys in green for this game? Hopefully this will be a very satisfying desert to Thanksgiving dinner for Pats fans, while causing massive indigestion to those fans a few hours south on I-95. In the second meeting between these two last year both teams were 5-3 but the Jets had won three straight and the Pats had lost two in a row. The Jets lost and finished the season losing five of their final eight games to miss the playoffs; for the Patriots this was the first game of what turned out to be a ten-game winning streak.

 

Week 13: Sunday December 2
Patriots at Miami Dolphins, 1:00 on CBS
2011: 6-10 (3rd in AFCE); 20.6 ppg (20th); allowed 19.6 ppg (6th)
Last year: won 38-24 in Miami in week 1 (Sept 12, 2011)
All-time record: 43-50
This is kind of an interesting twist to the schedule between these two teams. The Pats avoid the brutal heat and humidity of a day game in Miami in early September, while the Dolphins still have to travel to Foxboro in late December.

 

Week 14: Monday December 10
Patriots vs Houston Texans, 8:30 on espn
2011: 11-7 (1st in AFCS); scored 23.8 ppg (10th), allowed 17.4 ppg (4th)
Last meeting: lost 34-27 in week 17 (Jan 3, 2010)
All-time record: 2-1
One thing that I think that the NFL should strive to abolish with their schedule-making, it is having a team play three consecutive road games. Two teams have to do that in 2012: the Packers and the Texans. When Houston comes to Foxboro that will be their third consecutive road game; perhaps the Pats may be the fortunate beneficiary of this scheduling quirk. The Texans were arguably the best team in the AFC last year before injuries took their toll. They were 10-3 at one point and made it to the division round of the playoffs with a 3rd-string quarterback; there three best players on offense (Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson and Arian Foster) combined to miss twenty games in 2011.

 

Week 15: Sunday December 16
Patriots vs San Francisco 49ers, 8:20 on NBC
2011: 14-4 (1st in NFCW); scored 23.8 ppg (11th), allowed 14.3 ppg (2nd)
Last meeting: won 30-21 (Oct 5, 2008)
All-time record: 4-7
After winning 7 of the first 8 meetings between these two clubs the Pats have won three in a row; the last win by the 49ers was in 1995. West coast teams have been notorious for playing poorly on the east coast over the last several years, but Jim Harbaugh’s team bucked that trend last year with four wins in the eastern time zone. The 49er defense will be a difficult challenge for the Patriots in what on paper appears to be a great game for all NFL fans. This will be only the second time Tom Brady will start against the team he grew up cheering for; in the first contest the Pats won 21-7 in the final week of the 2004 season.

 

Week 16: Sunday December 23
Patriots at Jacksonville Jaguars, 1:00 on CBS
2011: 5-11 (3rd in AFCS); scored 15.2 ppg (28th), allowed 20.6 ppg (11th)
Last meeting: Pats 35, Jaguars 7 (Dec 27, 2009)
All-time record: 8-1
Maurice Jones-Drew had 386 touches last year; you have to wonder how long he can hold up with that much use. Blaine Gabbert needs to take a step forward for Jacksonville; in his rookie season he completed less than 51% of his passes, threw for only 147 yards per game, passed for just 12 touchdowns, and was sacked 40 times.

 

Week 17: Sunday December 30
Patriots vs Miami Dolphins, 1:00 on CBS
2011: 6-10 (3rd in AFCE); 20.6 ppg (20th); allowed 19.6 ppg (6th)
Last year in Foxboro: won 27-24 in week 16 (Dec 24, 2011)
All-time record: 43-50
The Patriots have won four in a row and six of the last seven against the Dolphins since the wildcat game in 2008. After missing out on the coach they wanted and the quarterback they coveted this off-season I’ll be curious to see if what the Dolphins do in next week’s draft.

 

Wild Card Playoff Round: January 5-6

Division Playoff Round: January 12-13

Conference Championships: January 20

Pro Bowl: January 27

Super Bowl: February 3, 6:30 pm in New Orleans

 

 

 

 

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