NFL’s dates are set
Patriots get 2012 schedule
The Patriots have long known their opponents for the 2012 regular season, but on Tuesday the NFL released its full schedule, and they found out when they’d be meeting their 13 opponents.
New England opens the season in Tennessee Sept. 9 at 1 p.m. That game will feature the league’s only active set of twins: the Patriots’ Devin McCourty and the Titans’ Jason McCourty. They attended Rutgers together, so the game at LP Field will be the first time they’ve been on opposing sidelines.
Here are some other highlights from the schedule:
■ The Patriots are currently scheduled to play four prime-time games. That could change with late-season flex scheduling, but no team can play more than five regular-season prime-time games.
■ New England will largely return to the traditional 1 p.m. game slot. After playing just five at that time last year (they were scheduled for four originally but the game against the Colts was flexed out of prime time), the Patriots currently have nine 1 p.m. kickoffs this season.
■ As is customary for teams playing in the game in London, which will be Oct. 28, the Patriots’ bye week is the week after that game with the Rams. The bye week is right in the middle of the season.
■ The weeks preceding the bye will be taxing: the Patriots fly to Seattle to face the Seahawks Oct. 14, return home to host the Jets Oct. 21, then fly across the Atlantic Ocean for their game with St. Louis.
■ New England plays three of its first four games on the road, opening in Tennessee, then heading to Baltimore for a Sunday night game Sept. 23 and to Buffalo Sept. 30. With the Patriots’ final two preseason games also on the road, they’ll be away from Gillette Stadium for five of six games.
■ The Patriots’ early travel is rewarded with home games in three of the final four weeks of the season. They host Houston Dec. 10 (their lone Monday night game), have a Sunday night game against San Francisco Dec. 16, and wrap up the season against the Dolphins (Dec. 30).
■ After he missed last year’s game because of a neck injury, Peyton Manning will renew his rivalry with Tom Brady Oct. 7 at Gillette. But the former Colt is now a Bronco, so the game also will be a rematch of the AFC divisional round playoff game Denver and New England played in January.
■ For the second time in three years, New England will play on the road on Thanksgiving. This time it is against the rival Jets, in prime time. It is the fifth time in franchise history the Patriots have played on Thanksgiving.