BOSTON (CBS) — We’ve got a 2021 Patriots schedule, and now we can circle all the important dates on our calendar. Though we all know there is one date that will have about 40 circles around it.
That, of course, is Tom Brady’s return to Gillette Stadium for the first time as a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It’s a day we’ve been waiting for since Brady’s departure last March and found out Wednesday that the Buccaneers would be coming to New England in 2021.
But there are plenty of other intriguing games ahead, although with just three primetime games, it doesn’t appear as though the NFL has much faith in New England. We’ll see if that becomes bulletin board material throughout the season.
Here are the most intriguing matchups from the newly released Patriots 2021 schedule:
Week 4: Buccaneers at Patriots
This is it. This is the one. Brady vs. Belichick for the first time ever.
The game is scheduled to kick off in prime time at 8:20 p.m., and Gillette will be absolutely rocking when Brady takes the field for pre-game warmups. And when he takes the field for the actual game. And whenever he does anything in the game.
It’s no hyperbole that this will be the biggest regular season game in Gillette Stadium history. And since it will come in the season’s first month, anything could happen during this 60-minute football game.
We know that Brady (and Gronk) will get plenty of love from New England fans. The real question is who will be playing quarterback for the Patriots — Cam Newton or rookie Mac Jones?
If you plan on heading to this historic tilt, you should start saving your pennies now. This will be the most expensive ticket in the NFL.
Week 1: Dolphins at Patriots
Opening day is fun anywhere in any sport. This will be our first real look at all of New England’s offseason additions, though Jones will likely have to wait to make his debut under center. (Unless he really impresses the Patriots during training camp and the preseason.) Mix in the bad blood between the Dolphins and the Patriots after New England’s Week 1 win last season, and this one has a little extra juice to it. Let’s see if anyone tries to rip off Cam Newton’s chain this time around.
Week 13 and Week 16 vs. Bills
The Bills won both matchups with New England last year and broke up the Patriots’ 11-year run as AFC East champs. Week 13 in Buffalo is Monday Night Football, so expect a lot of fireworks (and broken tables) for that matchup. The Patriots will likely have to split with Buffalo if they want to end their one-year postseason drought.
Week 2 and Week 7 vs. Jets
The Jets have a shiny new quarterback in No. 2 overall pick Zach Wilson. He’s going to be thrown into the fire right from the jump, and his first home game will come against Bill Belichick and a much-improved Patriots’ defense. Maybe New England will make another Jets “QB of the future” see ghosts.
Week 8: Patriots at Chargers
The Patriots absolutely pummeled the Chargers last season to the tune of 45-0, getting a spectacular game out of their special teams unit. New England heads back to L.A. for another one against the Chargers this season, which will mark tight end Hunter Henry’s first game against his former team.
Week 11: Patriots at Falcons
New England returns to the site of their Super Bowl LIII victory to face the team they beat in Super Bowl LI. Both teams have changed quite a bit since New England’s historic comeback in 2017, but this Thursday night showdown will be intriguing nonetheless. Even more so if Julio Jones is a member of the Patriots.
Week 12: Titans vs. Patriots
The team that ended Tom Brady’s run in New England returns to Foxboro for a late-season matchup. New Patriots tight end Jonnu Smith will also square off against his former team.
Week 17: Jaguars vs. Patriots
Potential Trevor Lawrence vs. Mac Jones alert!
Week 18: Patriots at Dolphins
It’s the first-ever Week 18, which is kind of neat we guess.