New England Patriots Schedule: 5 Games You Don't Want to Miss

William PenfieldCorrespondent IIAugust 30, 2011

New England Patriots Schedule: 5 Games You Don't Want to Miss

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    The New England Patriots had a spectacular 2010 regular season with a 14-2 record but the disappointing 28-21 playoff loss to the New York Jets in the AFC divisional round left a bad taste in their mouths.

    Expectations are high, once again, in New England, where it is Super Bowl or bust for the Patriots.

    In order to reach the Super Bowl the Patriots will play some key games. Here are five that you don't want to miss. 

Week 12: Philadelphia Eagles

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    The Patriots last played the Eagles in the 2007 season during the dream run to an undefeated regular season. They came out victorious 31-28.

    In Week 12, the Patriots travel to Lincoln Financial Field to face off against Michael Vick and the "Dream Team" Eagles.

    The key matchup in this game will be Tom Brady against his former teammate, Asante Samuel, and the star-studded secondary of the Eagles.

    If there is one secondary that can stop Brady and the high-powered Patriot offense, it is the Eagles.

    It should also be interesting to see the Patriots' front seven attempt to contain Vick as Belichick has only seen Vick in his rookie season in 2001 against Atlanta in a limited appearance.

    This game should be an exciting one all around and either team could come out on top. 

Week 8: Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Whenever the Patriots and Steelers play, it is a dogfight and it will be no different when Week 8 rolls around.

    The teams battled it out last season at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, where the Patriots came out on top, 36-29. 

    The battle returns to Heinz Field for the 2011 matchup but don't expect each team to pass for over 300 yards like in 2010.

    Both teams have a better established running attack now.

    Rashard Mendenhall has more experience now and is ready to take on more of a load and the combination of BenJarvis Green-Ellis, Danny Woodhead and the two rookies, Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen, make for a potent rushing attack for the Patriots.

    Tom Brady is 5-1 against the Steelers, including the playoffs, in his career but this game will be won in the trenches. 

    The team that wins the battle of the trenches should come out on top. 

Week 5: New York Jets

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    The New York Jets return to Gillette Stadium in Week 5 for the first time since they defeated the Patriots, 28-21, in the divisional round of the playoffs last season.

    Head coach Rex Ryan is all but certain to put his foot in his mouth and give the Patriots some bulletin board material for extra motivation leading up to this game.

    Both teams will be in midseason form with four games already played and this game will likely decide who holds first place in the AFC East after Week 5. 

    There is no bigger game on either teams' schedules than when they face each other. Luckily for us, they play twice a year.

    Expect this game to be a hard-hitting dogfight. The Patriots rarely lose a home game in the regular season and should be the favorite heading into the game. 

Week 13: Indianpolis Colts

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    Few can complain when the NFL's two best quarterbacks face each other and that is what happens on Sunday Night Football when the Colts come to Foxboro in Week 13.

    By Week 13, Manning should be 100 percent healed from his neck surgery so we will see the battle of the best on the turf at Gillette Stadium. 

    Peyton Manning and Tom Brady have had many epic battles, the latest last season when the Patriots came out on top, 31-28, at Gillette Stadium.

    Brady is 7-4 against Manning in his career and has replaced him as the best quarterback in the NFL.

    Expect a battle as always in Week 13 but Brady and the Patriots should be the favorite over the aging Colts in this matchup.  

Week 10: New York Jets

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    The Week 10 matchup at the New Meadowlands will be the most anticipated game of the 2011 NFL season for both the Patriots and the Jets.

    One team will be looking to avenge their Week 5 loss and the other will be looking to serve the knockout punch and take the season series.

    The trash talk will be at all time high and tempers will fly high in the rematch on Sunday Night Football.

    The winner of the Week 10 matchup will more than likely be the favorite to win the AFC East moving forward and get a bye come playoff time.

    Both teams prepare like none other, so expect the loser of the Week 5 matchup to come out on top in the rematch of Week 10 as neither team has swept the season series since the Patriots' undefeated regular season in 2007.