The regular season is simply a warm-up for the playoffs when it comes to the dominant New England Patriots, and they now know which teams they will face before what figures to be another postseason run.
New England has won two of the last three Super Bowl titles and has made the playoffs eight years in a row. As long as the combination of quarterback Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick is intact, the Patriots figure to be the dominant force in the AFC East and on the short list of Super Bowl contenders.
That is bad news for the teams on their new slate, which was released Thursday.
Here is a look at the Patriots' complete schedule for the regular season, per NFL.com.
|2017 New England Patriots' Regular-Season Schedule|
|1||Sept. 7||vs. Kansas City Chiefs||8:30 p.m.||NBC|
|2||Sept. 17||at New Orleans Saints||1 p.m.||CBS|
|3||Sept. 24||vs. Houston Texans||1 p.m.||CBS|
|4||Oct. 1||vs. Carolina Panthers||1 p.m.||Fox|
|5||Oct. 5||at Tampa Bay Buccaneers||8:25 p.m.||CBS/NFL Network|
|6||Oct. 15||at New York Jets||1 p.m.||CBS|
|7||Oct. 22||vs. Atlanta Falcons||8:30 p.m.||NBC|
|8||Oct. 29||vs. Los Angeles Chargers||1 p.m.||CBS|
|10||Nov. 12||at Denver Broncos||8:30 p.m.||NBC|
|11||Nov. 19||at Oakland Raiders||4:25 p.m.||CBS|
|12||Nov. 26||vs. Miami Dolphins||1 p.m.||CBS|
|13||Dec. 3||at Buffalo Bills||1 p.m.||CBS|
|14||Dec. 11||at Miami Dolphins||8:30 p.m.||ESPN|
|15||Dec. 17||at Pittsburgh Steelers||4:25 p.m.||CBS|
|16||Dec. 24||vs. Buffalo Bills||1 p.m.||CBS|
|17||Dec. 31||vs. New York Jets||1 p.m.||CBS|
Brady is clearly the centerpiece of the team and will have tight end Rob Gronkowski back at his disposal after the game-changing pass-catcher suffered an injury and missed last season's playoffs and Super Bowl.
What's more, he now has wide receiver Brandin Cooks alongside Chris Hogan and Julian Edelman after New England acquired the speedy playmaker during the offseason in a trade with the New Orleans Saints.
Best of luck to the opposing secondaries on the newly released schedule, especially with versatile playmakers like Dion Lewis and James White coming out of the backfield.
On the other side, the defense added cornerback Stephon Gilmore to a group that led the league in points allowed per game last season on the way to winning the Lombardi Trophy. There is little to pick apart with this team on either side of the ball.
While the Patriots are loaded across the board and coming off a Super Bowl title, using that talent to earn home-field advantage against this schedule would go a long way toward improving their chances at a repeat.
Divisional showdowns are always critical in the NFL, something the Patriots understand after winning the AFC East eight years in a row and 13 of the last 14 seasons. It is difficult to envision anyone challenging them in the division in 2017, but the Miami Dolphins were 10-6 last year and reached the playoffs.
One reason the Patriots prevailed in the last division race against a strong Miami team is the head-to-head showdowns. Brady and Co. won both matchups against the Dolphins, helping propel themselves to a 14-2 record and the No. 1 seed in the AFC.
Doing so again this season would clear the way for yet another AFC East crown.
Elsewhere, a Super Bowl rematch against the Atlanta Falcons stands out, especially since New England came roaring back from a 28-3 deficit to beat Matt Ryan and Co. While it is not as important from a standings perspective, considering they are in separate conferences, it will catch the attention of fans across the league.
The Patriots also face the Denver Broncos, who are the last team to beat them in the playoffs. That came in the 2015 season's AFC Championship Game, which was in Denver. The 2017 showdown will likely prove critical in the race for home-field advantage should they meet in the next playoffs.
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