Thursday is one of the more exciting days of the spring, as NFL fans can plan their fall weekends with the schedule being released.
What are the best road trips? How many primetime games are there? When is the bye week?
All those questions will be answered, and from a Patriots perspective, it’s the first season without Tom Brady in 20 years, which causes even more questions.
How many fewer primetime games will there be? Will the schedule be tough right out of the gate? What are the toughest road stretches?
Here’s our mock schedule -- how many do you think we got right?
Week 1- Sunday, Sept. 13 vs. Cardinals 1 p.m.
Just like 2016, the Patriots will open the season against the Cardinals. It also will begin a four-week stretch against the NFC West, as it’s been rumored the first four games of the year will feature games against out of conference opponents.
Week 2- Sunday, Sept. 20 vs. 49ers, 4:25 p.m.
This is a game every Patriots fan is looking forward to as it will be Jimmy Garoppolo’s return to Foxborough. While it could happen in Week 1, the league may be able to find a better opponent for the defending NFC champions.
Week 3- Sunday, Sept. 27 at Rams 4:25 p.m.
This will be the beginning of a 10-day stretch on the West Coast. It’s also unlikely that it’s the Rams’ first home game, as they likely wouldn’t open their new stadium against New England.
Week 4- Thursday, Oct. 1 at Seahawks 8:20 p.m.
This would mean the league did a Patriots a favor and limited their time spent on the West Coast, as it’s very likely they would spend the week out west instead of two cross-country flights in the same week. It’s likely no matter when the game in Seattle is it’s a primetime game.
Week 5- Sunday, Oct. 11 vs. Jets 1 p.m.
The Patriots open their division slate at home in what will be a very common time of 1 p.m.
Week 6- Sunday, Oct. 18 Bye week
This would be a pretty early bye week for the team, as its bye weeks have come in Weeks 11, 9, 9, 4 and 10 the last five seasons.
Week 7- Sunday, Oct. 25 vs. Bills 1 p.m.
Fresh off their bye, the Patriots will get their first look at what likely will be the AFC East favorites.
Week 8- Sunday, Nov. 1 at Dolphins 1 p.m.
A lot of Patriots fans could be spending Halloween weekend on South Beach.
Week 9- Monday, Nov. 9 vs. Ravens, 8:20 p.m.
Besides the 49ers, this may be the best home game on the schedule and the league can’t go wrong putting Lamar Jackson in primetime.
Week 10- Sunday, Nov. 15 vs. Raiders 1 p.m.
Another ho-hum 1 p.m. game that on the surface doesn’t have much intrigue.
Week 11- Sunday, Nov. 22 at Chiefs 8:20 p.m.
This will be a big test for Stidham and the Patriots, as the Chiefs will likely be at the top the AFC at this point and Arrowhead Stadium is one of the toughest places to play in the league.
Week 12- Sunday, Nov. 29 at Texans 1 p.m.
The second of back-to-back road games could be a big one for both teams, who likely will be in the mix for playoff spots at this point of the year.
Week 13- Sunday, Dec. 6 vs. Broncos 1 p.m.
Depending how things go in Denver, this could be a catch your breath game before four big games down the stretch, which all will likely have playoff implications.
Week 14- Sunday, Dec. 13 at Chargers 4:25 p.m.
New England has to make a second trip to the West Coast at some point and it’s unclear what the Chargers will be this coming season, especially with a change at QB.
Week 15- Sunday, Dec. 20 at Bills 8:20 p.m.
The Patriots have gotten lucky with not having to travel to Buffalo late in the year of late, but that has to end at some point. With the division likely to not be decided until the last few weeks of the year, this could be a huge game and it makes sense to give Buffalo a shot at the Patriots on national TV.
Week 16- Sunday, Dec. 27 vs. Dolphins, 1 p.m.
This would be the second year in a row where Miami is forced to come to chilly New England at the end of the season.
Week 17- Sunday, Jan. 3 at Jets, 1 p.m.
After finishing the year at home for the last couple of years, that too has to end at some point. In not much of a surprise, the year ends with three straight division games.