Patriots 2017 National Football League schedule is released

On Thursday evening, the National Football League released to the world the dates, times and locations of its 256 regular season games scheduled to be played during the upcoming season. With defenses that struggled somewhat last season, there could be a lot of points scored at the Coliseum.

Every team except Cleveland and Jacksonville will get prime-time exposure. The pressure is really on the Falcons because their game at New England marks the first of three consecutive road games.

The Cowboys - the NFL's ratings gold mine - also have nine late-afternoon kickoffs that traditionally draw larger audiences.

Raiders 2017 regular-season scheduleWeek 1: Sunday, Sept. 10, at Tennessee, 10 a.m. (CBS) Comment: Raiders will play in Nashville a third-straight season.

StubHub Center, the temporary home of the Chargers, will have its first regular-season contest in Week 2 when Miami visits.

A visit by the newly-relocated Los Angeles Chargers will be October 29 (1 p.m.), followed by the bye week, which comes at exactly the same time in the schedule as previous year. Many of you are excited about this I know. "Just last season at Lambeau, we saw how Dak Prescott solidified himself as the Cowboys" QB of the present and the future, while the divisional round setting produced one of the wildest final sequences to a playoff game in some time thanks to Aaron Rodgers' heroics. See the full schedule on C2. "It's going to be a business trip for me". That's a win for the Falcons in my book. While the game might give some Atlanta fans a few nightmares in the days leading up to this one, the opportunity for the Falcons to get a little revenge in Foxborough should be a welcome addition to the 2017 slate for the team.

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Sunday, Dec. 24: New England vs. Buffalo, 1:00 p.m. Next up is the draft, which starts Thursday, and the Vikings likely need an impactful draft class, too, to have a realistic chance at that hometown Super Bowl. The NFL released their 2017 regular season schedule and the Giants received no favors. From a schedule perspective, at least, the Ravens have a good chance to get themselves back into the playoffs. Then comes a long road trip to Mexico City and a game against the Raiders, a fellow contender in the AFC.

New Orleans opened at home against Oakland (at the time considered a young team with sleeper playoff chances but a lot of growing to do), on the road against the New York Giants (a team coming off of a disgusting defensive season that left it on the outside of the playoffs), a Monday night home game against the Atlanta Falcons (a hated rival coming off of a collapse who'd be walking into a Superdome buzzsaw) and a road trip to take on the then-San Diego Chargers, a talented but inconsistent team.

Home games against Buffalo and the Jets will finish the season, tentatively scheduled for 1 p.m. starts on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve.

Overall, the Giants might have the NFL's least enviable schedule, based on ESPN senior analytics specialist Brian Burke's analysis.

Depending on how things play out, this turn out to be the single most critical NFC South game of the year.