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2016 New England Patriots preseason schedule includes Tom Brady vs. Cam Newton in Week 3

The NFL released the preseason schedule on Thursday. Dates and times haven’t been announced, but here’s a first look at the opponents for the New England Patriots:

Week 1 (Aug. 11-15) vs. New Orleans Saints

Comment: The teams held joint practices before last year's preseason game and both raved about the experience. Tom Brady vs. Drew Brees is always a treat on the practice field, and that would draw a huge crowd to Gillette Stadium. One thing to consider is that the Saints were scheduled to hold joint practices with the Texans last year, but pulled out when Houston was part of HBO's "Hard Knocks." This year, the Saints visit the Texans in Week 2 of the preseason and could decide to repay them with joint practices.

Week 2 (Aug. 18-22) vs. Chicago Bears

Comment: The two teams have made several trades over the last two years, which highlights the strong working relationship between them. This is another strong possibility for joint practices, and if they do it, Chicago defensive tackle Akiem Hicks will know where to go from his time with the Patriots in 2015.

Week 3 (Aug. 25-28) at Carolina Panthers

Comment: Tom Brady vs. Cam Newton for the second straight year in Week 3 of the preseason? Yes, please. This is the game that the starters often play into the second half.

Week 4 (Sept. 1-2) at New York Giants

Comment: This marks the 12th straight year that the teams face each other in the preseason finale, a matchup that works well for both sides because of their close proximity.