New England Patriots schedule analysis

Breakdown: The Patriots have a well-placed bye in Week 10, on Nov. 9. That is the first thing that catches the eye when looking at the schedule. Add in that the bye comes the week after another Patriots-Broncos showdown (Nov. 2 in New England at 4:25 p.m.), and the week before the Patriots visit the Colts for a Sunday night tilt (Nov. 16), that looks like the sweet spot of the schedule. Ending the year with three straight AFC East opponents is also notable, potentially increasing the odds that the division title will still be up for grabs at that point. We also like almost the entire month of October is spent at home, one of the great months for football in New England with the foliage providing a picturesque backdrop at Gillette Stadium.

Complaint department: Not much to bicker with here, but back-to-back road games against the Packers (Nov. 30) and Chargers (Dec. 7) looks like a tough draw, especially with the game in San Diego coming on a Sunday night. Also, this is the fourth straight year the Patriots will open the season on the road.

Preseason conditioning will be a focus: Opening the season at Miami, as the club did in 2011 in a convincing win, creates a natural storyline on preseason conditioning as preparing for the heat and humidity in South Florida will be a focus. It will be an early chance for the Patriots to get a jump on the division as they won't see another AFC East foe until Weeks 6 and 7 -- at the Bills and at home on Thursday night against the Jets.

Strength of schedule: 10th, .516 | Vegas over/under: 10.5

Patriots Regular-Season Schedule (All times Eastern)

Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 7, at Miami, 1 p.m.

Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 14, at Minnesota, 1 p.m.

Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 21, Oakland, 1 p.m.

Week 4: Monday, Sept. 29, at Kansas City, 8:30 p.m.

Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 5, Cincinnati, 8:30 p.m.

Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 12, at Buffalo, 1 p.m.

Week 7: Thursday, Oct. 16, NY Jets, 8:25 p.m.

Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 26, Chicago, 1 p.m.

Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 2, Denver, 4:25 p.m.

Week 10: BYE

Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 16, at Indianapolis, 8:30 p.m.

Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 23, Detroit, 1 p.m.

Week 13: Sunday, Nov. 30, at Green Bay, 4:25 p.m.

Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 7, at San Diego, 8:30 p.m.

Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 14, Miami, 1 p.m.

Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 21, at NY Jets, 1 p.m.

Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 28, Buffalo, 1 p.m.