The New England Patriots come into the 2022 season hoping to make another playoff run.
The Pats surprised many with their free agent spending spree during the 2021 off-season. That, coupled with drafting a new franchise quarterback in Mac Jones, helped propel the team into a wildcard spot. However, dreams of another Super Bowl run faded quickly in the NFL Playoffs when New England was dominated by their AFC East rivals, the Buffalo Bills.
This year, the AFC is loaded with great teams. But New England is planning on making another run at a championship. That means the Pats will be involved in some high-stakes matchups this season.
Let’s take a closer look at the Top 5 most anticipated games on the Patriots’ schedule.
5. Week 12: Patriots at Vikings – Nov. 24 (Thanksgiving Day)
The New England Patriots have not played on Thanksgiving Day since 2012. That was the infamous “Butt Fumble” game. New England destroyed the Jets with a 49-19 victory in New York.
Flash forward to 2022. The Pats will again be on the road for Turkey Day, this time taking on the Minnesota Vikings. This may not seem like an exciting matchup on paper, but this could be a critical game once Week 12 rolls around.
Both the Patriots and Vikings are expected to be fighting for wildcard spots in their respective conferences. This late in the season, every win counts that much more. Add in that this will be the primetime Thanksgiving Day game, and Pats fans will surely want to grab a spot on the couch for this one after filling up that Thanksgiving dinner plate.
4. Week 3: Patriots vs. Ravens – Sep. 25
The home opener at Gillette Stadium will feature the Patriots hosting Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens. Both teams are hoping to get off to a hot start and will likely look at this matchup as a real measuring stick game.
Jackson is one of the most exciting players to watch in the NFL today, and that alone could be worth the price of admission. The streets of Foxborough will undoubtedly be decked out in blue, red, silver, and white to welcome the nearby Baltimore fans.
This will also be a matchup of two of the league’s best coaches, Bill Belichick and John Harbaugh. These two have been a part of many legendary Patriots-Ravens clashes in the past. I’d expect Week 3 this season to be no different.
3. Week 16: Patriots vs. Bengals – Dec. 24
Week 16 will see New England playing host to the reigning AFC Champion Cincinnati Bengals. Mac Jones will once again go head-to-head with another young superstar quarterback in Joe Burrow.
Cincinnati expects to be much improved from last year. They’ve added to the offensive line and return 10 of 11 starters on defense.
The spotlight on this game should be on Jones. A late-season game against a good team with another young QB across the field. These are the moments that help turn good players into great players. It may be a little too early to call Jones a great player, but an outstanding performance against Burrow and the Bengals in a big game won’t hurt the argument.
2. Week 4: Patriots at Packers – Oct. 2
If you are a Patriots fan and can only travel to one road game this year, this is one road trip to highlight. New England will spend Week 4 taking on the Green Bay Packers at the historic Lambeau Field.
Belichick and the Patriots defense going up against the reigning back-to-back MVP Aaron Rodgers is a must-see. This will also be another early season test for New England. Green Bay has won 13 games in each of the past three seasons. However, many predict a drop-off this year after the Packers lost star wideout Davante Adams.
This could be an impressive feather in the Patriots’ cap if they can knock off the Packers at Lambeau, a place where they have not won since 2006.
1. Week 13: Patriots vs. Bills – Dec. 1 (Thursday Night Football)
Of course, the number one game Patriots fans should have circled on their calendars is Week 13 when the Buffalo Bills come to town. The Bills currently occupy the AFC East throne, and the Patriots want that spot back.
There are three reasons why this game is a can’t-miss for New England fans. First, it’s a matchup of the two top teams in the AFC East (I’m not a big believer in Miami yet). Second, this late-season divisional game could decide who walks away with the division title and could have significant ramifications in the AFC wildcard race. Third, this could be Josh Allen‘s “MVP moment” game. The one that essentially wraps up the award for him. Meaning the Pats could play spoiler.
The two teams also play in Week 17 in Buffalo. But who knows where the records might be at that time? Both teams could rest starters in that game, and it may not be worth the watch.
This Week 13 game will also be the standalone Thursday Night Football contest, so these division rivals will be competing in front of a national audience. Hopefully we don’t get the crazy weather that we saw in their Monday Night Football game last season, and we get to see both squads at their best.