So does it really matter who, when and where the New England Patriots play this upcoming fall? The NFL’s reigning dynasty has made seven Super Bowl appearances since 2001 and has won five Lombardy Trophies. The Patriots have won two of the last three league championships, the last one in dramatic fashion. Facing a 28-3 third-quarter deficit in Super Bowl LI to the Atlanta Falcons, game MVP Tom Brady orchestrated the greatest comeback in this game’s 51-year history. This season at Foxborough, Bill Belichick and company will once again square off with the Falcons.

How do we know that? It’s really quite simple. The opponents for each club were announced after the regular season concluded. Still, it’s worth reviewing the scheduling highlights for the defending Super Bowl champions in 2017?

Games of note

The privilege of being the reigning NFL champions is that you get to host the first game of the season. And that’s the case as the New England Patriots welcome the reigning AFC West champion Kansas City Chiefs on September 7 at Gillette Stadium. These two teams met in the playoffs back in 2015, with Belichick’s club holding off Andy Reid’s club, 27-20, in the divisional round. There’s an AFC Championship Game rematch at Heinz Field as the Pats look to continue their winning ways over Mike Tomlin and the Pittsburgh Steelers (Week 15).

Of course, there is that aforementioned Super Bowl rematch with the Falcons in New England (Week 7). All told, The Patriots have a total of seven games vs. 2016 playoffs teams, including a pair with the Miami Dolphins in a three-week span (Week 12 at New England and Week 14 at Miami), as well as another playoff rematch when the Houston Texans come to town (Week 3).

And the Oakland Raiders clash with Tom Brady and teammates in Week 11 at Mexico City.

Tricky stretches

The New England Patriots play three of their first four games at home, facing the Chiefs in the Thursday night season opener, and then hosting the Houston Texans and Carolina Panthers in Weeks 3 and 4, respectively. Then there’s a Thursday night tilt in the Sunshine State against the surging Tampa Bay Buccaneer followed by a Sunday afternoon at MetLife Stadium against the rivals New York Jets.

Then there’s a little calm before the scheduling storm as the team has home dates with the Falcons and Los Angeles Chargers, followed by an off-week. When the Pats get back, they begin a stretch in which they hit the road five times in six weeks. Trips to Denver and Mexico City (to face the Oakland Raiders) and then a home date with the Dolphins are followed by road tilts with the Buffalo Bills, Dolphins (Monday night) and Steelers from Weeks 13-15. The Patriots close the year with home games against the Bills and Jets. It’s worth noting that the club plays five of its final six games against their AFC East rivals.