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A Look at Patriots 2013 Opponents

The New England Patriots will face five teams in 2013 that made the playoffs in 2012, including the AFC's top seed (Denver Broncos) and the NFC's top seed (Atlanta Falcons).

A day after the 2012 regular season ended, the NFL released the home and away opponents of all 32 teams for the 2013 season.

At first glance, the Patriots schedule in 2013 will be challenging but familiar. The Pats will face five teams in 2013 that made the playoffs in 2012, including the number one playoff seeds in the AFC (Denver Broncos) and NFC (Atlanta Falcons). Nine of the Pats’ 16 games next season come against teams they faced in 2012.

Coming to Foxborough in 2013 will be the Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, New York Jets, Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers, Denver Broncos, New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Pats will have to travel to Buffalo, Miami, New York (Jets), Baltimore, Cincinnati, Houston, Atlanta and Carolina.

In 2012, the Patriots earned a 12-4 record and clinched the AFC East division for the fourth straight year. New England defeated the Miami Dolphins, 28-0 Sunday at Gillette Stadium in the regular season finale to earn the number two seed in the AFC and a first-round playoff bye. The Pats will host either the Houston Texans or the winner of Sunday's Indianapolis Colts/Baltimore Ravens game in the AFC Divisional round on Sunday, Jan. 13 Gillette Stadium. Kick-off in Foxborough is scheduled for 4:30 p.m.

As the Pats use their week off to rest, recuperate and ready for the AFC Divisional round, we take a closer look at their 2013 opponents. 

Patriots 2013 Opponents (HOME)

In 2013, the Patriots will host teams in the AFC East, AFC North and NFC South divisions in addition to the Denver Broncos of the AFC West. Here’s a team-by-team look at the Patriots’ opponents coming to Foxborough.

Buffalo Bills: The Patriots finished the 2012 season 2-0 against the Buffalo Bills and own a 63-41-1 all-time record against the AFC East rival. The Patriots bounced back from a slow first half in Buffalo on Sept. 30 to crush the Bills, 52-28 and held on to . It was the 22nd sweep of the Bills in Patriots’ history.

Despite the long-term success against Buffalo, the Patriots will likely see a much different Bills team in 2013 as time’s are a changing in Buffalo. The Bills just fired its entire coaching staff after another 6-10 season under Chan Gailey and owner Ralph Wilson reportedly will promote CEO Russ Brandon to president, giving him full authority to run the franchise’s football operations. As for who will replace Gailey as the Bills next head coach, rumors are connecting Lovie Smith (recently fired by the Chicago Bears) and Ken Whisenhunt (recently fired by the Arizona Cardinals) to Buffalo. In addition to a new coach, the Bills will likely be in the market for a quarterback this off-season to replace Harvard alum Ryan Fitzpatrick, who had a miserable 2012 season. 

Miami Dolphins: The Patriots swept the Miami Dolphins in 2012 but trail in the all-time series, 44-50. and closed out the regular season on Dec. 30 with a 28-0 win over Miami in Foxborough to clinch the second seed in the AFC.

New York Jets: The Patriots swept the New York Jets again in 2012 for the 15th time in franchise history and own a 55-52-1 all-time against their bitter rivals. The before embarrassing New York a month later in a 49-19 rout on Thanksgiving night. Another disappointing season for Rex Ryan and the Jets have owner Woody Johnson desiring change. Johnson has already informed Ryan he will be back in 2013 as head coach but fired longtime general manager Mike Tannenbaum. The biggest question mark for the Jets in 2013 is who will be playing quarterback. Mark Sanchez was benched with two games remaining in the regular season due to poor play but ended up starting in the Jets’ regular season finale after newly named starter Greg McElroy suffered a concussion. Back-up quarterback Tim Tebow is not expected to return to the team in 2013.

Cleveland Browns: The Browns recently fired their head coach Pat Shurmur and general manager Tom Heckert after a 5-11 season and may be in the market for a starting quarterback if the new regime decides Brandon Weeden is not the answer at the position. The last time the Browns and Patriots met in the regular season was in Cleveland during the 2010-11 season. The Browns, then coached by former Patriots defensive coordinator Eric Mangini, defeated the Pats, 34-14. The last time the Patriots hosted the Browns in Foxborough was during the 2007 season. The Patriots beat Cleveland, 34-17 on Oct. 7, 2007 enroute to a perfect 16-0 regular season. 

Pittsburgh Steelers: The Steelers finished the 2012 season with an 8-8 record and missed the postseason. The last time the Patriots and Steelers met was in the 2011-12 regular season in Pittsburgh. The Patriots lost, 25-17. The last time the Steelers and Patriots played in Foxborough was the 2008-09 season. That was the year Tom Brady suffered a season-ending injury in the home opener against the Kansas City Chiefs. The Patriots, led by Matt Cassel, lost the Nov. 30, 2008 game against the Steelers, 33-10.

Denver Broncos: Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos will be returning to Foxborough in 2013 in what is expected to be a primetime match-up between the game’s two best quarterbacks. . In his first year with the Broncos, Manning has led Denver to a 13-3 record and the number one seed in the AFC.

New Orleans Saints: The Saints managed just a 7-9 record in a season of turmoil following the Bounty Gate scandal. The Saints are expected to have head coach Sean Payton return in 2013 following a season-long suspension in 2012, which could return New Orleans to the postseason. The last time the Patriots and Saints met in the regular season was in the 2009-10 season in New Orleans. The Saints beat the Patriots, 38-17 in that game. The last time the Patriots hosted the Saints in Foxborough was the 2005-06 season … before the Drew Brees era in New Orleans. The Patriots defeated the Saints, 24-17 on Nov. 20, 2005.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The Bucs finished 2012 with a 7-9 record under first-year head coach Greg Schiano. The last time the Patriots and Buccaneers played each other in the regular season was in the 2009-10 season in London. The Patriots beat Tampa Bay 35-7. The last time the Patriots and Bucs played in Tampa Bay was the 1997-98 season. Tampa Bay beat the Patriots, 27-7 in Week 11.

Patriots 2013 Opponents (AWAY)

Buffalo Bills: See home schedule.

Miami Dolphins: See home schedule.

New York Jets: See home schedule.

Baltimore Ravens: The Ravens won the AFC North division in 2012 with a 10-6 record and earned the fourth seed in the AFC. Baltimore beat the Patriots for the first time in seven regular season meetings on Sept. 23, 2012. That game was played in Baltimore on Sunday Night Football in Week 3 of the 2012-13 season. The Patriots still lead the all-time series, 6-1.

Cincinnati Bengals: The Bengals earned the last playoff spot in the AFC in 2012 after a 10-6 season. The Patriots last played the Bengals in the 2010 season opener at Gillette Stadium. The Pats won, 38-24. The last time the Patriots played in Cincinnati was during the 2007 season. The Pats beat the Bengals, 34-13 on Monday Night Football enroute to a perfect regular season.

Houston Texans: The Texans won the AFC South division in 2012 with a 12-4 record and earned the third seed in the AFC. The in 2012 on Monday Night Football to improve its all-time record to 3-1 over Houston. The last time the Patriots played the Texans in Houston was the last week of the 2009 season. The Texans defeated the Pats, 34-27 for the franchise’s first win ever against New England. 

Atlanta Falcons: The Falcons won the NFC South with a 13-3 record in 2012 and earned the NFC’s top seed. The last time the Patriots and Falcons met was in Foxborough during the 2009 season. The Patriots beat Atlanta, 26-10. The last time New England played in Atlanta was during the 2005 season. The Pats beat the Falcons, 31-28.

Carolina Panthers: Cam Newton and the Panthers experienced a disappointing 2012 season, finishing with a 7-9 record. The last time the Patriots and Panthers met was during the 2009-10 season. The Pats beat the Panthers, 20-10 at Gillette Stadium. The last time the Patriots played in Carolina was in 2005. The Pats lost 27-17.

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