2020 NFL schedule: Three Patriots games to circle

Editor's note: NFL.com is breaking down all 32 team schedules for the 2020 season. Here are the three games New England Patriots fans should circle on their calendars this fall:

San Francisco 49ers at New England Patriots, Week 7, Oct. 25, 4:25 p.m. ET (CBS)

Befittingly enough, Jimmy Garoppolo's return to Foxborough comes at a time where the Patriots franchise finds itself at a crossroads. The post-Tom Brady era in New England was supposed to rest on his shoulders, and now the quarterback leads the defending NFC champions into New England with a proverbial chip on it. Aside from all the sensationalized storylines that will arise in the days leading up to this game, facing the 49ers will be a true benchmark for how well Bill Belichick's Patriots are doing without their heralded QB under center. It's certainly a tough task for Jarrett Stidham, who could be the Patriots' starter, but there's no doubt Belichick's unified system has cultivated players into one we didn't see coming.

Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots, Week 16, Dec. 28, Monday Night Football, 8:15 p.m. ET (ESPN)

Aside from the theatrical matchup in the post-Brady era, there are more important matters at hand for Belichick's Patriots. The AFC East division title has been won by New England 11 years straight, and a budding Bills team is nipping at their heels after earning Wild Card Weekend appearances in two of the past three years. While the Pats have dominated this matchup over the past two decades, nothing is abundantly clear heading into 2020 and their rival is most certainly aware of a potential undertaking. Maintaining dominance over the Bills will be important in their quest to making it 12 years straight.

New England Patriots at Houston Texans, Week 11, Nov. 22, 1 p.m. ET (CBS)

The Patriots have a daunting road schedule in 2020 that includes three West Coast trips and a troublesome matchup against the defending Super Bowl champs, but there's another date in Houston that stands out. The Texans have been a recent problem for the Pats thanks to the emergence of Deshaun Watson. The last three meetings between these teams have been decided within one score and Watson had a thrilling prime-time performance in his first win over New England last year. Surely Belichick and his defense will keep that game in mind, and certainly their own No. 4 potentially under center in Stidham is eyeing the road game that takes place in his home state.

Check out the full Patriots schedule below:

Sept. 13 vs. Miami Dolphins, 1 p.m. (CBS)
Sept. 20 at Seattle Seahawks, 8:20 p.m. (NBC)
Sept. 27 vs. Las Vegas Raiders, 1 p.m. (CBS)
Oct. 4 at Kansas City Chiefs, 4:25 p.m. (CBS)
Oct. 11 vs. Denver Broncos, 1 p.m. (CBS)
Oct. 18 -- BYE
Oct. 25 vs. San Francisco 49ers, 4:25 p.m. (CBS)
Nov. 1 at Buffalo Bills, 1 p.m. (CBS)
Nov. 9 at New York Jets, 8:15 p.m. (ESPN)
Nov. 15 vs. Baltimore Ravens, 8:20 p.m. (NBC)
Nov. 22 at Houston Texans, 1:00 p.m. (CBS)
Nov. 29 vs. Arizona Cardinals, 1 p.m. (FOX)
Dec. 6 at Los Angeles Chargers, 4:25 p.m. (CBS)
Dec. 10 at Los Angeles Rams, 8:20 p.m. (FOX/NFL Network/Amazon
*)
Dec. 20 at Miami Dolphins, 1 p.m. (CBS)
Dec. 28 vs. Buffalo Bills, 8:15 p.m. (ESPN)
Jan. 3 vs. New York Jets, 1 p.m. (CBS)

  • Sunday night games in Weeks 5-16 subject to change; Week 17 game TBD
    **NFL Network and Amazon simulcast subject to change
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