MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- The New England Patriots finished 12-4 and in first place of the AFC East this season, as Sunday they were awaiting the first-place finishers in the AFC South and AFC West to finalize their 2016 opponents. The dates of each game will be determined in April when the full regular-season schedule is released.
My take: One of the first things to look for when the schedule is released in April will be if any of the road games at Arizona, San Francisco or Denver are back to back because it could set up a scenario where the team spends a week out West as they did in 2008 and 2014. ... It will be fun to have a Super Bowl rematch against the Seahawks at home, with Pete Carroll's return to town, as he coached the Patriots from 1997-1999. ... And while on the subject of homecomings, Bill O'Brien will bring his Texans team to Gillette, a place O'Brien knows well from his time in New England (2007-2011). ... Playing the AFC North generally means physical football, so this could be a buckle-your-chinstrap type year. ... Tom Brady has never played a road game in San Francisco, as he was out with a torn ACL in 2008 the only time he was a starter when the Patriots played there. So that figures to be a highlight for him.