BOSTON (CBS) — Though the time has come much sooner than anybody in Foxboro would have wanted, it’s already “on to 2021” for the New England Patriots.
In that regard, the Patriots officially know which opponents they’ll be playing in the 2021 season. That schedule will of course include the usual AFC East opponents, but it will also include one of the most intriguing games in Gillette Stadium’s history.
With the AFC East set to play against the NFC South, the Patriots and Tom Brady’s Buccaneers will face each other in the 2021 season. That game will be at Gillette Stadium, marking Brady’s first game back in the place where he won so many games from 2002-19. Brady’s last game in Foxboro came in a playoff loss to Tennessee last January.
The return of Brady — barring an unexpected retirement — is obviously the most notable highlight, but the other Patriots home games (outside of the division) will come against the New Orleans Saints, Cleveland Browns, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Tennessee Titans. In terms of unique road games, the Patriots will play at the Chargers in Los Angeles for the second striaght year, while making trips to Carolina, Houston, Atlanta and Indianapolis.
PATRIOTS 2021 GAMES
HOME GAMES AT GILLETTE STADIUM
New York Jets
New Orleans Saints
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
New York Jets
Los Angeles Chargers
On tap for '21.
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) January 5, 2021
The Patriots — for the first time since 2009 — will not be playing a first-place schedule, after finishing in third place in the AFC East. That means that instead of facing the top teams from the AFC North and AFC West, they’ll be facing the third-place teams from each division (the Browns and Chargers, respectively).
In addition to the NFC South, the AFC East is also matched up with the AFC South, hence the dates with Indy, Tennessee, Houston and Jacksonville.
The NFL reportedly plans to add a 17th game to every team’s schedule, though those details and plans have not yet been finalized.
It’s not entirely clear who will be playing quarterback for the Patriots next fall. But when the Bucs come to town, there’s no doubt that all of New England will be excited to see the return of No. 12, albeit on the opposite sideline.