Report: 17-game schedule will add marquee home game to Patriots' slate

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Darren Hartwell
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Report: 17-game schedule adds marquee home game for Pats originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

It looks like the NFL is going to 17 games this year. So, who will the New England Patriots play in their extra contest?

NBC Sports' Peter King reported Monday that a 17-game season in 2021 is "highly likely" after NFL owners recently agreed to the new format as part of the new collective bargaining agreement, as first reported by the Washington Post's Mark Maske.

King also explained the formula used to decide the extra game: "AFC versus NFC, cross-conference matchup from two years ago, 2021 matchup based on 2020 standings."

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Here's what that means for the Patriots: They played the NFC East two years ago and finished third in the AFC East last season. So, they'll play the third-place team in the NFC East from 2020: the Dallas Cowboys.

The AFC will host all of the additional games in 2020, per King, so the Patriots will get an extra home game when the Cowboys visit Gillette Stadium.

This is an intriguing matchup between two high-profile teams that underachieved in 2020. Assuming Dak Prescott is healthy and still on the team, Dallas should boast a potent offense with running back Ezekiel Elliott and talented young wide receiver CeeDee Lamb.

Corralling the Cowboys

Dallas' last win vs. New England (0-6 since)

1996

Variation

Single

New England still needs a quarterback and has holes throughout its roster, but regardless of how the team addresses its needs, these are two of the biggest brands in football, so this game should get strong ratings.

Patriots-Cowboys won't be the best game at Gillette Stadium this fall, though: Tom Brady and the Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers return to Foxboro in 2021 in one of the most highly-anticipated matchups of the season.