FOXBOROUGH, Mass.- The National Football League tonight announced the 2017 regular-season schedule and the defending Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots learned the team will host the Kansas City Chiefs on Thurs., Sept. 7, as part of the NFL’s 2017 Kickoff Weekend on NBC. The Patriots will unveil the Super Bowl LI championship banner as part of a special star-studded pregame ceremony. Details of the event will be announced at a later date.
The NFL’s Thursday Night Kickoff tradition began in 2002 and the defending Super Bowl Champion has hosted every year since 2004. The Patriots won the first two such contests and have played in three of those games overall. New England defeated Indianapolis, 27-24, on Sept. 9, 2004 and Oakland, 30-20, on Sept. 8, 2005 in Thursday games at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots also defeated Pittsburgh, 28-21, on Sept. 10, 2015 at Gillette Stadium following the 2014 Super Bowl win.
It is the third straight season the Patriots will open the season in prime time following the 2015 Thursday Night Game and last season’s 23-21 win at Arizona on NBC’s Sunday Night Football. It is the 10th time overall the Patriots will open the year in a prime time, nationally-televised game.
Including the season opener, the Patriots are scheduled to play in five nationally-televised games during the regular season, including two at Gillette Stadium. After opening in prime time against Kansas City, the Patriots will host Atlanta in a rematch of Super Bowl LI in a Sunday Night Football game on Oct. 22. The Patriots will play on Thursday Night Football at Tampa Bay on Oct. 5 and at Denver on Nov. 12 on Sunday Night Football. The Patriots only Monday Night Football Game will be played at Miami on Dec. 11.
Besides the five nationally televised games, the Patriots will travel to Mexico City to face the defending AFC West Champion Oakland Raiders on Nov. 19 as part of the NFL’s International Series. The game will be the Patriots’ third regular-season game played outside the United States. In 2009, the Patriots made their first visit to London and beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 35-7, on Oct. 25, 2009 and then on Oct. 28, 2012 the Patriots defeated the St. Louis Rams, 45-7. It will be the Patriots second visit to Azteca Stadium. The Patriots played a preseason game on Aug. 17, 1998, against Dallas in Mexico City.
The Patriots will play all three teams they faced in the 2016 postseason. New England will host the Houston Texans on Sun., Sept 24, the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday Night Football on Oct. 22, and travel to face the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sun., Dec. 17. The Patriots beat Houston, 34-16, in last season’s AFC Divisional win and defeated Pittsburgh, 36-17, in the AFC Championship. New England beat the Falcons, 34-28 in overtime, to capture its fifth Super Bowl win.
The Patriots, who finished with a perfect 8-0 record on the road in 2016, will play back-to-back games on the road two times and then have a stretch of three straight road games. Last season marked the second time in team history the team finished with an undefeated road record. The Patriots (2016 and 2007) joined San Francisco (three times) as the only teams with multiple 8-0 road seasons. The Patriots will play at Tampa Bay on Thurs., Oct. 5, followed by a game at the New York Jets on Sun., Oct. 15. The Patriots will play at Denver on Sunday Night Football on Nov. 12 followed by the game at Mexico City on Nov. 19 against the Raiders. They will conclude their 2017 road games with a stretch of three on the road with games at Buffalo on Dec. 3 followed by a Monday Night Football game at Miami on Dec. 11 and then a rematch of last season’s AFC Championship when the Patriots travel to face the Steelers in Pittsburgh on Dec. 17. The Patriots have played on the road for at least three straight games many times, including 11 times since the 1970 merger with the most recent occurring in the 2002 season.
The Patriots will close out the season at home against two AFC East rivals with home contests on Sun., Dec. 24, against Buffalo followed by the regular-season finale on Sun., Dec. 31, against the New York Jets. The Patriots own the best divisional record in regular-season play with a 76-22 record since the beginning of 2001 and have gone 16 straight seasons without being swept by a division opponent, the longest such streak since the 1970 NFL merger.
In addition to playing each of the other AFC East opponents twice, the Patriots will play one game against each of the AFC West and NFC South teams. As the first-place team in the AFC East, the Patriots will play the first-place team of the AFC South (Houston) and AFC North (Pittsburgh).