It’s NFL schedule release day. While the leaks leading up to the official 8 p.m. announcement on NFL Network have been slower that usual this year, four Patriots game are now known to the public. Coincidentally, all four involve the Patriots’ NFC North opponents.
The standout of the schedule so far is the Patriots’ return to Thanksgiving football. The Patriots will play the primetime game that night, on the road against the Minnesota Vikings. That game was first reported by Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald. It will be the Patriots’ sixth Thanksgiving game in franchise history, and first since 2012 – the Butt Fumble game. They’re 3-2 on Thanksgiving all-time.
That won’t be the Patriots’ only non-conference primetime game. They’ll host the Chicago Bears for Monday Night Football on October 24, which is Week 7 in what will be the first meeting between 2021 first-round picks Mac Jones and Justin Fields. It will be the first Monday Night Football game at Gillette Stadium with fans in attendance since 2016 (the Patriots hosted Buffalo for a MNF game during the COVID-19 Pandemic in 2020 in an empty building).
In one of their more anticipated road games, the Patriots will make the trip to storied Lambeau Field in Week 4. That game will have a 4:25 p.m. kickoff on October 2. The next week, they’ll take on another NFC North opponent in the Lions, who come to Gillette for a 1 p.m. start on October 9.
Earlier on Thursday, it was reported that the Patriots would be taking on Miami in Weeks 3 and 11. However, that report later was deemed incorrect.