New England Patriots 2012 Schedule Analysis

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The Athlon staff breaks down each and every schedule for the 2012 NFL season.

<p> New England Patriots 2012 Schedule Analysis</p>

Scheduling plays a huge role in the outcome of every NFL season. So the Athlon NFL editors will spend the next month dissecting each and every week of the 2012 slate for all 32 teams in the league.

New England Patriots 2012 Schedule:

Week 1: at Tennessee
Week 2: Arizona
Week 3: at Baltimore
Week 4: at Buffalo
Week 5: Denver
Week 6: at Seattle
Week 7: New York Jets
Week 8: at St. Louis
Week 9: BYE
Week 10: Buffalo
Week 11: Indianapolis
Week 12: at New York Jets
Week 13: at Miami
Week 14: Houston
Week 15: San Francisco
Week 16: at Jacksonville
Week 17: Miami

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- The first thing that stands out about the Patriots 2012 schedule are the road trips early on. The season begins with three of the first four — and four of the first six — games taking place away from Foxborough. Even tougher are the opponents as the Titans, Bills and Ravens (the first three road games) should all be around or above .500 on the season. Additionally, the fourth road trip in six weeks will happen over 3,000 miles away in Seattle. Sprinkle-in a developing Broncos and Cardinals defense and the first month and a half will provide plenty of speed bumps for Tom Brady and company.

- Three of the final four games of the year will come at home for Bill Belichick. Which is good news considering Houston, San Francisco and Miami are coming to town. The Texans game could be a preview of the AFC championship game and the winner of that contest will likely claim home field advantage throughout the playoffs.

- The Pats got one big break in the scheduling department by facing the NFC West in crossover play this fall. A home game against San Francisco could be a Super Bowl preview in Week 15 but should have little impact on the final standings or seedings in either league. Road games to Seattle and St. Louis, while long, shouldn’t be arduous while a home game against Arizona won’t press the Pats either. A 4-0 record is easily within reach while anything worse than 3-1 would be disappointing.

- Despite tough games against Houston and Tennessee on the road, playing the AFC South is a nice break. Jacksonville and Indianapolis are as near-locks for victory as it gets in the NFL and the Titans game happens in Week 1. The Titans could be a quality team in 2012 but will be a much better squad come the second half of the year. The implications of the Houston game have been well covered.

- The Patriots have the easiest schedule in the AFC East since they don’t have to face the, uh, Patriots. Road trips to Buffalo and New York certainly won’t be gimmies, but there is no doubt that the division is New England’s to lose. It finishes with three division games in the final six weeks — including back-to-back road games in Week 12 (NY Jets) and Week 13 (Miami).

- The two floating games are not going to be easy for the Pats as both could be playoff previews. A trip to Baltimore in Week 3 provides a rematch of the AFC Championship game from a year ago while Denver at home in Week 5 will be another chapter in the historic Manning-Brady rivalry. These two will be must-see TV.

- By Braden Gall

@bradengall

2012 Athlon Sports NFL team-by-team schedule analysis:

AFC East
Buffalo Bills
Miami Dolphins
New England Patriots
New York Jets

AFC North
Baltimore Ravens
Cincinnati Bengals
Cleveland Browns
Pittsburgh Steelers

AFC South
Houston Texans
Indianapolis Colts
Jacksonville Jaguars
Tennessee Titans

AFC West
Denver Broncos
Kansas City Chiefs
Oakland Raiders
San Diego Chargers

NFC East
Dallas Cowboys
New York Giants
Philadelphia Eagles
Washington Redskins

NFC North
Chicago Bears
Detroit Lions
Green Bay Packers
Minnesota Vikings

NFC South
Atlanta Falcons
Carolina Panthers
New Orleans Saints
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

NFC West
Arizona Cardinals
San Francisco 49ers
Seattle Seahawks
St. Louis Rams

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