Though the 2010 NFL season technically hasn't ended for New England Patriots fans, the team's 2011 opponents have already been determined. The Patriots will see a lot of familiar friends, foes and even a team that used to play in Boston in 2011.
If the 2011 season does occur (which these days, always seems to be an if thanks to that mighty pesky owners-players dispute), the Patriots will be hosting the following teams at Gillette Stadium.
- Kansas City Chiefs (Patriots 2.0, given they are the home of former Brady backup Matt Cassel, former linebacker Mike Vrabel, former defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel, and former Vice President of Player Personnel Scott Pioli.)
- San Diego Chargers (The Philip Rivers led team fell to the Pats on October 24th of this season, 23-20.)
- Indianapolis Colts (A Colts-Pats regular season game is becoming as predictable as the seasons. The Patriots have faced the Colts at least once a season since the 2003 season, and this will be the 75th meeting in their storied rivalry - provided they don't meet this month in the playoffs, of course.)
- Dallas Cowboys (The Patriots last faced the Cowboys in Dallas in 2007, in the since-departed Texas Stadium.)
- New York Giants (The Giants and Pats have only met in pre-season matchups since the infamous Super Bowl XLII.)
- The normal slate of AFC East opponents: Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins and New York Jets.
The Patriots will play the following teams on the road:
- Denver Broncos (The Broncos, then led by Kyle Orton, last met the Patriots during the 2009 season, beating them 20-17.)
- Oakland Raiders (The Raiders and Patriots have only met in the regular season twice since the famous "Tuck Rule Game," the last time in 2008. That meeting was a Patriots blowout, 49-26.)
- Pittsburgh Steelers (A fellow AFC playoff team, the Steelers fell to the Patriots in Week 10, 39-26.)
- Philadelphia Eagles (What some are predicting as this February's Super Bowl matchup, the Eagles and Patriots last met in 2009 and met in Super Bowl XXXIX.)
- Washington Redskins (The perpetually turmoiled Redskins have Boston roots - they trace their history to Boston Braves and Redskins football franchises of the 1930s.)
- The usual AFC East opponents (see above.)
The exact schedule will not be announced until April. The 2011 regular season will begin on September 8, 2011, and will wrap-up on New Year's Day 2012.