Patriots schedule analysis

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
Breakdown: The New England Patriots didn't make the playoffs last year, but they didn't lose their cachet. With Tom Brady back to run the offense, New England has been selected for four prime-time games and three center-stage kickoffs at 4:15 p.m. on CBS in addition to their previously scheduled London showcase.

The Patriots will open the regular season against the Buffalo Bills in Gillette Stadium on "Monday Night Football." Their other three prime-time games will be on the road in a four-week stretch: at the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday night in Week 10, at the New Orleans Saints on Monday night in Week 12 and at the Miami Dolphins on Sunday night in Week 13.

The Patriots will meet two AFC East rivals right out of the chute, hosting the Bills and visiting the New York Jets, but the Patriots won't play another divisional game until after their Week 8 bye.

But the Patriots might not have as much on the line as the rest of the division in December. They will have only one divisional game over the final four weeks, heading to Orchard Park, N.Y., in Week 15.

Complaint department: The Patriots don't have two sets of back-to-back West Coast games like they did last year, but they still have a lot of ground to cover, including the Week 7 game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in London.

The Patriots will log roughly 20,374 round-trip miles this year, almost twice as many as the Bills. Subtract the Wembley Stadium game and the Patriots still would have logged about 5,500 more miles than the Bills.

Five of the Patriots' eight road games will cover at least 2,300 round-trip miles for games at London, Denver, Houston, New Orleans and Miami.

Catching up with old friends: The Patriots will host the Atlanta Falcons in Week 3. Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff left the Patriots front office to turn the Falcons into a playoff team last year.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick will match X's and O's against his former offensive coordinator, new Denver Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels, in Week 5.

Patriots Regular Season Schedule (All times Eastern)
Week 1: Monday, Sept. 14, BUFFALO, 7 p.m.
Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 20, at N.Y. Jets, 1 p.m.
Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 27, ATLANTA, 1 p.m.
Week 4: Sunday, Oct. 4, BALTIMORE, 1 p.m.
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 11, at Denver, 4:15 p.m.
Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 18, TENNESSEE, 4:15 p.m.
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 25, at Tampa Bay (London), 1 p.m.
Week 8: Sunday, Nov. 1, BYE
Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 8, MIAMI, 1 p.m.
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 15, at Indianapolis, 8:20 p.m.
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 22, N.Y. JETS, 4:15 p.m.
Week 12: Monday, Nov. 30, at New Orleans, 8:30 p.m.
Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 6, at Miami*, 8:20 p.m.
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 13, CAROLINA, 1 p.m.
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 20, at Buffalo, 1 p.m.
Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 27, JACKSONVILLE, 1 p.m.
Week 17: Sunday, Jan. 3, at Houston, 1 p.m.