The new season schedule is finally here! The Patriots were allotted the maximum number of primetime games before flex scheduling, as Mac Jones and company remain in the national eye after a strong rookie year. Everyone is ready to see record predictions and game-by-game expectations. But being this far out, let’s just look at early storylines for every 2022 Patriots game and notable trends in the schedule itself.
Week 1 @ Miami
The Patriots avoid a late-season Miami trip this year. Miami has been a house of horrors for New England; they are just 2-7 in their last nine visits. An early trip to Miami means dealing with the late summer heat or possible sloppy hurricane season weather. The Pats will get immediately tested by Tyreek Hill and the new-look Miami offense. Perhaps the Pats catch a break with some early season desynchrony from the Tua-led passing game.
Week 2 @ Pittsburgh
The Patriots get back-to-back road games to open the season. Pittsburgh will still feature a tough defense coupled with a ground-and-pound approach. The Steelers will most likely be starting Mitch Trubisky at quarterback. Trubisky has faced New England once in his career, losing with the Bears 38-31 on October 21, 2018. Trubisky was 26/50 for 333 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions in that game. He also added 81 yards on six carries and a touchdown. The Pats will look to further limit his production this time around.
Week 3 vs. Baltimore
The Patriots make their home debut against a talented Baltimore squad led by fourth-year quarterback Lamar Jackson in Week 3. The Pats emphasized adding speed on defense this off-season, and Jackson will present an early litmus test. The Ravens don’t have a receiver with more than two years of NFL experience on the roster. This fast, but physical opponent will test the Pats’ defense. This game will also mark Matthew Judon’s first time playing against his former employer.
Week 4 @ Green Bay
The Patriots return to the road in Week 4 to play the Packers. The Pats avoid late-season nasty Green Bay weather with the timing of this road trip. When these two teams last met, James White ran for a pair of touchdowns, Cordarrelle Patterson added another on the ground, and Josh Gordon took a Tom Brady pass 55 yards for a 31-17 Patriots victory. Now, the Mac Jones-led offense will need to keep pace with Aaron Rodgers, even if he is without top receiver Davante Adams now.
Week 5 vs. Detroit
The Patriots get just their second home game in Week 5, as they face off against the Lions. This game could be a lot closer than many people are expecting. The Lions are building a solid culture under second-year coach Dan Campbell and will compete until the final whistle. Purely speculative, but this could end up being a Trey Flowers revenge game.
Week 6 @ Cleveland
The Deshaun Watson situation looms large for this portion of the schedule. The expectation is a suspension of some sort will be handed down before the season starts. Six games seems to be the rumored minimum. However, the league put Cleveland in primetime twice this year, with the second being Week 8. With how conservatively the NFL tries to avoid storylines such as Watson’s, it may be prudent to assume the Watson suspension lasts until at least Week 8. IF that’s the case, the Patriots dodge a massive bullet and will face old Wolfpack member Jacoby Brissett.
Week 7 vs. Chicago (Monday Night Football)
The Patriots get their first primetime game of the season with a Monday Night showdown against the Bears. This game will feature second-year quarterbacks Mac Jones and Justin Fields. The early storyline for both has been the improved supporting cast and incredible system that Mac walked into, while Chicago has done very little to support Fields. After a difficult opening stretch, the Pats could enter this game on a small win streak. A win in primetime might get the team feeling right early in the season.
Week 8 @ NYJ
The Patriots turn around on a short week to play the rival New York Jets. It’ll be a repeat storyline as the week before, as dueling second-year quarterbacks will take center stage. The Jets have been lauded as having had an incredible off-season thus far. They made it a point to surround Zach Wilson with a solid supporting cast and get difference-makers on the defensive side of the ball. As this rivalry gets fresh blood on both sides, this game will give us a glimpse of what to expect for years to come.
Week 9 vs. Indianapolis
Last year the Colts were the beginning of the end for the Patriots’ season. The Saturday night matchup previewed the slow starts and undisciplined brand of football the Patriots were going to play down the final stretch. This year the Patriots catch them just before their bye week. The Colts acquired Matt Ryan from the Falcons this season. They added to an already vaunted defense with pass-rusher Yannick Ngakoue and former NFL Defensive Player of the Year, Stephon Gilmore. This matchup will be an excellent barometer for Mac Jones’ development, as this group should be a premier defense in the league.
Week 10 BYE
The Pats get a bye week almost precisely halfway through the season. It will be ideally timed, as the team prepares for the grueling second-half push for playoffs. The bye also may be a realistic expectation for a James White return.
Week 11 vs. NYJ
The Pats will face the Jets for the second time in four weeks after their bye. Last year, the team was consistently flat and undisciplined after their bye week. The team can make a statement by coming out with a purpose and playing inspired ball against the Jets.
Week 12 @ Minnesota (Thursday Night Football)
This game marks the first of four consecutive primetime affairs for the Patriots. It also marks the Patriots’ return to Thanksgiving football for the first time since the “Butt Fumble.”
The Patriots have played five times on Thanksgiving in franchise history, sporting a 3-2 record. However, the Pats have won three in a row on Turkey day and will look to extend the streak to four. The Vikings are coached by Kevin O’Connell, a former third pick of the Pats. This could be a very entertaining holiday nightcap. Also, highlight this one as the potential return of the “Pat Patriot” jerseys.
Week 13 vs. Buffalo (Thursday Night Football)
New England and Buffalo get the Thursday night double-dip, as Buffalo will be coming off a Thanksgiving showdown against Detroit. These teams matched up three times last year, with the fierce Buffalo wind proving to be the Patriots’ most valuable defender in those games. Josh Allen and the Buffalo offense didn’t punt in the final two matchups between these teams.
The Pats’ defense will be a known commodity by this point in the season, even if most of the changes this offseason were done with this matchup in mind. Keeping this one competitive against the presumed AFC favorites will be a good indicator of where the Patriots’ rebuild stands.
Week 14 @ Arizona (Monday Night Football)
The Patriots start a west coast trip with a Monday Night showdown against the Cardinals. The Pats will be coming off a mini-bye here, as they go from a Thursday night showdown to a Monday night game. These teams last met in 2020, with the Patriots defense stifling Kyler Murray and the Cardinals offense in a 20-17 Patriots victory.
While the Pats may benefit from some suspension luck when they play Cleveland earlier in the season, they get no luck here, as DeAndre Hopkins will have served his six-game ban for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy. Arizona has faded down the stretch under Kliff Kingsbury and will be looking to reverse that trend this season. Arizona may feature even more team speed than Buffalo, with burner Marquise Brown joining DeAndre Hopkins and Kyler Murray.
Week 15 @ Las Vegas (Sunday Night Football)
The second leg of the West Coast tour means a date with Josh McDaniels in Vegas. Belichick against his disciples is always exciting theater. Both teams figure to be making a postseason push. The Raiders will host the Patriots for joint practices before their preseason tilt, so this game will feature some very familiar opponents. Don’t be surprised if this is a high-drama affair, coming down to the last minute.
Week 16 vs. Cincinnati
The Patriots continue a brutal stretch of schedule by hosting the defending AFC Champs on Christmas Eve. The Pats will be hoping Mac has made a Joe Burrow-esque second-year leap of his own, while trying to contain an explosive Cincinnati offense. This game should also feature playoff implications. The Patriots in years past have pointed to a West Coast staycation as a bonding experience for the team, and the Bengals will provide the first test to that idea.
Week 17 vs. Miami
The Patriots’ final regular-season home game feature a familiar spoiler. Last year, the Dolphins swept the Patriots on the back of costly Patriots turnovers. The Tua experiment will be over by this game, one way or the other. He will either have justified his role as the franchise QB, or the Pats will be facing Teddy Bridgewater. The Dolphins have ruined the last few Patriots seasons, so getting a statement win here may help them lose the monkey on their back.
Week 18 @ Buffalo
Like all Week 18 games, this one is yet to have an assigned time slot. Patriots fans should be hoping for a Sunday Night matchup with division title implications. But, this game could feature a host of Buffalo backups as they look to rest up for playoffs and the Patriots try to jockey for one of the Wild Card spots.