LOOK: Here are 10 things we already know about the 2017 NFL schedule

The 2017 regular-season schedule is expected to be released sometime in the next week

Even though the NFL Draft is less than two weeks away, that’s not what most NFL fans are thinking about right now. Most fans around the league just want to know one thing: When’s the schedule coming out?

To be honest, it would be nice if the NFL would just tell us when it’s going to be released so this woman could plan her kids’ 10th birthday party.

When does the NFL schedule come out? I’m trying to plan my kiddo’s 10th birthday party

I’d also like to see the schedule released so the bride-to-be below can’t start planning for what’s going to happen after her wedding on Oct. 22!

Hey @Browns, when does the ’17 NFL schedule come out? Hoping Brownies are at home 10/22 for my post-wedding day festivities! 🤞🏻🏈

Well, here’s some good news for those two (we think): it appears they might be able to start planning later this week. If you believe Lions team president Rod Wood, who accidentally let the NFL’s plans slip while unveiling new uniforms last Friday, the schedule release will be this Thursday. More on that later.

Now, just because the schedule’s not out yet doesn’t mean the entire thing is a complete mystery.

As a matter of fact, we actually know quite a bit about the schedule. So with that in mind, let’s take a look at 10 things we already know about the 2017 schedule.

1. The Patriots will be hosting the first game of the regular season

Not only do you get a Lombardi Trophy when you win the Super Bowl, but these days, you also get the honor of hosting the first game of the following NFL season. Thanks to their win over the Falcons in Super Bowl LI, the Patriots will be hosting the Thursday night opener when the NFL regular season kicks off on Sept. 7.

Although the Falcons are scheduled to play in New England in 2017, don’t look for that to happen in the opener. Several recent reports have indicated that Atlanta likely won’t be traveling to New England for Week 1. And according to this report, the Chiefs-Patriots ‘will almost certainly be’ the opening game.

Of course, the Patriots probably aren’t worrying about who they’re going to play in Week 1, and that’s because the team has more pressing things to worry about, like where to put their fifth Super Bowl banner.

They’ve run out of room at Gillette Stadium.

The @Patriots have literally run out of room to hang their newest Super Bowl banner – http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/the-patriots-have-literally-run-out-of-room-to-hang-their-newest-super-bowl-banner/ 

Photo published for The Patriots have literally run out of room to hang their newest Super Bowl banner

The Patriots have literally run out of room to hang their newest Super Bowl banner

New England has no more room for Super Bowl banners at Gillette Stadium

That’s a fun problem to have.

On the other hand, something that’s not a fun problem is going to a game when you know you’re going to get booed mercilessly, which is almost certainly going to happen to Roger Goodell on Sept. 7. The NFL commissioner has said he’ll be at the opener, marking the first time he’s been to Gillette Stadium since Deflategate started in January 2015.

2. The Patriots will be playing in Mexico (and no, we won’t only be talking about the Patriots here)

One year after sending the Texans and Raiders to Mexico, the NFL has decided to hold another game south of the border in 2017, and this time, the league is sending the Patriots to take on the Raiders. Before heading to Mexico, the Patriots might want to make sure Tom Brady’s jersey has its own security team, and that’s because Mexico just happens to be the place where Brady’s stolen Super Bowl jerseys were recovered after the greatest international manhunt of all-time.

By the way, although he’s based in Mexico, I’m guessing the NFL probably won’t be giving a media credential to Mauricio Ortega for this game.

According to ESPN.com, this game will likely be played near Thanksgiving, with the Sunday before Turkey Day being the most likely candidate.

3. Four London games are being played in 2017

At the rate we’re going, don’t be surprised if the NFL moves all 256-games to London at some point in the next five years. Just kidding. I think. For the 2017 season, the league will be holding four games in London, which is the most ever for a single-season.

Two of those games are already officially on the schedule, with the Jaguars “hosting” the Ravens on Sunday, Sept. 24, in a Week 3 game. That will be followed one week later by Dolphins “hosting” the Saints, who will play against each other in London on Oct. 1. Those two games will be played at Wembley Stadium.

The other two games are still up in the air as far as the dates go. The Browns “host” the Vikings and the Rams will “host” the Cardinals in a set of games that will both be played at Twickenham Stadium. Those two games will be played on Oct. 22 (Week 7) and Oct. 29 (Week 8), although the order hasn’t been officially determined yet.

4. The dreaded 9:30 a.m. kickoff time is returning this season

If you live on the West Coast (like me) then you’ll probably agree that the 9:30 a.m. ET kickoff is the worst thing to ever happen to profession football. As horrible ideas go in the NFL, it’s right up there with the single-bar facemask.

View image on Twitter

Hopefully the NFL is banning large facemasks because its bringing back the single-bar

I mean, at that point, you’re probably just better off with no facemask at all.

Although there had been a report in November that the NFL would be eliminating the 9:30 a.m. kickoffs for the 2017 season, that won’t be happening. The league has already announced that the Saints and Dolphins will be kicking off in the early slot in Week 4 (Oct. 1). That should be fun for Saints in New Orleans, where the game will be kicking off at 8:30 a.m.

5. There will be two weeks worth of Saturday games on the schedule

In 46 of the past 47 NFL seasons, there’s been at least one Saturday regular-season game on the schedule, and that streak is going to continue in 2017. For the upcoming season, the league will be scheduling Saturday games for different weeks. The first Saturday game will come in Week 15 (Dec. 16), which will be followed by a Saturday game in Week 16 (Dec. 23). Unfortunately, the Saturday schedule won’t be as crazy as it was last season when we got spoiled thanks to the fact the Christmas Eve fell on a Saturday, which led the NFL to schedule 12 games that day.

6. There are going be a lot of holiday games, so plan accordingly

You’re probably already well aware of the fact that there will be three games on Thanksgiving — with two of those involving the Cowboys and Lions — so let’s look at a different holiday: Christmas.

For the first time in 11 years, Christmas falls on a Monday, which means  the NFL is going to get to combine the America’s two favorite things this season: Christmas and “Monday Night Football.” Also, don’t be surprised if the league gives us a Monday doubleheader. Back in 2006, the NFL scheduled two games for Christmas Day, which was the last time the holiday was on a Monday.

We’ll also be getting a heavy dose of New Year’s Eve football this year with Week 17 falling on Sunday, Dec. 31. That news most likely means we won’t see an Eastern Time Zone team hosting the Sunday night game that week because that would mean ringing in the new year at a stadium. The last time NYE fell on a Sunday (2006), the Bears hosted the Packers in a regular-season finale game that kicked off at 7:15 p.m. CT and ended less than two hours before midnight.

7. There will be a lot of playoff rematches on the schedule

There’s always playoff rematches on the schedule, but this year, there’s going to be a ridiculous amount of them. For the first time since divisional realignment in 2002, we’re going to get a rematch of EVERY non-wild card game. That means every divisional playoff game from 2016 will see a rematch on the 2017 schedule. That also means the AFC (Patriots-Steelers) and NFC (Falcons-Packers) title games will get rematches, and yup, that definitely means a Falcons-Patriots Super Bowl LI rematch will also be on the schedule.

8. The Broncos have the most difficult schedule heading into 2017

This is the part where we wish Vance Joseph good luck during his first year in Denver. Not only is he the head coach of a team for the first time, but he has to do it in a season where the Broncos have the most difficult strength of schedule. That doesn’t mean you should count them out of the AFC West race though: The next three toughest schedules belong to the Chiefs, Chargers, and Raiders. Just in case you’re wondering, the most difficult schedule in the NFL that doesn’t belong to an AFC West team belongs to the Bills. Good luck ending that playoff drought, Buffalo.

9. We know the opponents for all 32 teams

Although we don’t know the dates or times of games that are on the 2017 NFL schedule, we do know who each team will be playing. You can check out the list of all 16 regular-season opponents for each team by going to CBS sports.

10. The schedule will be released Thursday (we think)

Now that you’ve made it all the way through this list, you’re probably wondering when the regular-season schedule will be released. As we already noted, thanks to Lions president Rob Wood, who appeared to spill the beans on the schedule release date last week, we think we have the answer for you. Wood said the schedule will be released on April 20, which means you have three days to get all your 4-20 jokes together before Thursday night’s release.

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