The Patriots will open the 2013 regular season Sept. 8 in Buffalo, and start their home schedule just four days later on Thursday night against the Jets.
They will close the season Dec. 29 against the Bills.
The NFL revealed the full league schedule on Thursday night.
The Sept. 12 game against the Jets is the first of five prime-time games for the Patriots.
They will travel to Atlanta Sept. 29, host Wes Welker, Peyton Manning, and the Broncos Nov. 24, and travel to Baltimore to face the defending Super Bowl champion Ravens Dec. 22. All three of those games will be 8:30 Sunday night starts on NBC.
In addition, the Patriots will travel to Carolina for a “Monday Night Football’’ tilt Nov. 18.
New England’s bye comes in Week 10.
Bill Belichick’s club has a challenging three-game stretch beginning in Week 3 when they face an up-and-coming Buccaneers team followed by road games against the Falcons and Bengals, both of whom made the playoffs in 2012.
The Patriots also face back-to-back 2012 playoff teams in Weeks 12 and 13, vs. the Broncos and Texans.
This is also a travel-friendly year: the longest trip New England will make is to Houston.
Many reunions will be on tap in the NFL this year, including Manning returning to Indianapolis and new Chiefs coach Andy Reid back in Philadelphia.
The NFL schedule is filled with return visits and intriguing matchups, beginning with a road game for the defending Super Bowl champions.
And Manning will be part of that too, as the Ravens travel to Denver for the now-traditional Thursday night opener Sept. 5. The Orioles are home that night and Major League Baseball could not move their game.
So $121 million quarterback Joe Flacco and his fellow champs were sent to Denver — to face Manning and the team they beat in double overtime on their way to the Super Bowl.
Jets coach Rex Ryan, who spent 10 years as an assistant in Baltimore, seemed most interested — and was annoyed by — the Ravens being forced to kick off the season on the road.
‘‘I think that the world champs can open up at home and that’s where I think they should open, at home,’’ Ryan said. ‘‘I think it is common courtesy. I don’t know what gets involved in that. I am not in charge of it, but if I would have been, the Ravens would be opening at home.
‘‘If baseball had only 16 games, I might understand it. But just as common courtesy maybe [the Orioles] say, ‘I’ll play this one on the road.’ Just from a fan perspective of sports.’’
In Week 2, Peyton visits Eli’s house.
Both Manning brothers often have said it’s uncomfortable yet memorable playing against each other; it’s only happened twice, with Peyton and the Colts winning. Even though Peyton now is a Bronco, the dynamic is unchanged for the star quarterbacks.
‘‘We haven’t talked about it a whole lot,’’ Eli said. ‘‘More kind of joking and jabs at each other, but obviously any time you play your brother it is special. It is unique and I cherish those moments whether before the game or looking across during the national anthem and seeing my big brother and seeing him at the coin flip. Those are great moments that we’ll cherish.’’
Reid jokingly acted surprised about the Chiefs’ Week 3 trip to the City of Brotherly Love — and, at times, venom for the coach of the Eagles, which Reid was for 14 seasons. Reid and the rest of the Chiefs knew about it long ago, and they got the Thursday night spotlight.
‘‘We’re playing Philly?’’ said Reid, hired by Kansas City days after being fired in Philly. ‘‘Nah, it’ll be an exciting atmosphere. It always is at Lincoln Financial Field there. But right now, I’m a Chief, so we’re going to get ourselves ready to play, whenever and wherever we have to play this season.’’
The Sunday night season opener is the Giants at the Cowboys, and the Monday night doubleheader has Philadelphia at Washington — with or without Offensive Rookie of the Year Robert Griffin III, who is rehabilitating a major knee injury — then Houston at San Diego.
As has become standard for the NFL, all 16 finales are intradivision matchups.Material from the Associated Press was used in this report. Shalise Manza Young can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @shalisemyoung.