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Ben Volin’s instant analysis of Patriots’ 2014 schedule

The Patriots will spend a lot of time on the road in the first month of the season, will play almost a third of their games under the bright lights of prime-time television and will have to go through their division rivals to clinch their 11th AFC East title in 12 seasons.

The NFL released the 2014 schedule on Wednesday night, and the Patriots will be opening the season with two road games – at Miami and Minnesota. The Patriots have faced the Dolphins seven previous times in Week 1 games, including a 38-24 win in Miami in 2011. The Week 2 game at Minnesota will be played outdoors at TCF Stadium, the Vikings’ temporary home as they await for their new stadium to be built.

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The Patriots play five prime-time games – three on Sunday night (Week 5 vs. Bengals, Week 11 at Colts and Week 14 at Chargers), one on Monday night (Week 4 at Chiefs) and one on Thursday night (Week 7 vs. Jets). The prime-time games could change, however, as the NFL is instituting flex scheduling as early as Week 5 this year. A team cannot play more than five prime-time games, however.

They finish the season with three straight divisional games – vs. Dolphins, at Jets, and vs. Bills. It will mark the second straight year the Patriots wrap up the regular season with the Bills at home.

Follow Ben Volin on Twitter at @BenVolin.
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