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Brady Bunch Faces Old Friends And Foes In 2013

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Former Patriots WR Wes Welker and the Denver Broncos will face New England in 2013. Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images.
Former Patriots WR Wes Welker and the Denver Broncos will face New England in 2013. Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images.

The NFL released its 2013 schedule at 8 p.m. on Thursday night, highlighting significant games throughout the upcoming year. The Patriots were dealt a few surprises, as they open up against two AFC East opponents in consecutive weeks.

The team travels to Buffalo in Week 1 on Sept. 8, and will host the Jets in Week 2 – the first game at Gillette Stadium in 2013 – on Sept. 12. Last year, the Patriots didn’t see a divisional opponent until Week 4. The Patriots will face the Jets on Thursday Night Football on the NFL Network.

Speculation before the schedule was released centered around the team traveling to Baltimore to face the Ravens in an AFC championship game rematch for Week 2, which would have been the Ravens’ home opener. Instead, the Patriots will face the Ravens in Week 16 of the regular season on Sunday, Dec. 22, on NBC.

The first out-of-conference game is against the Buccaneers in Week 3, a 1 p.m. Sunday game on Sept. 22.

A core of crucial games comes at the end of September through mid-October. In Week 4, the Patriots travel to Atlanta to face the Falcons in a Sunday night matchup. From there, the team faces, in consecutive order, the Bengals, Saints and Jets.

Then, at the beginning of November, the Patriots will likely go through another tough patch, starting with a home contest against the Steelers on Nov. 3. A bye week in Week 10 breaks the Steelers game from consecutive matchups with the Panthers, Broncos, Texans, and Browns.

Surprisingly, the only Monday night game in 2013 for the Patriots is against the Panthers on Nov. 18. They play the Broncos on Sunday night the following week -- Wes Welker's first trip back to New England since signing a two-year contract with the Peyton Manning-led Broncos.

Two of the final three weeks of the regular season end with AFC East opponents. The matchup with the Ravens in Week 16 splits contests with the Dolphins in Week 15, and the Bills to cap off the year in Week 17 on Dec. 29.