The New England Patriots will play on national television five times this season, including their home opener and three games on Sunday Night Football, as the NFL released its 2013 schedule Thursday night.

The Patriots will open and close the season against the Buffalo Bills: at Buffalo on Sept. 8 at 1 p.m., and at Gillette Stadium on Dec. 29, at 1 p.m.

Their home opener is Thursday, Sept. 12, against the New York Jets at 8:25 p.m., on the NFL Network.

Wes Welker, the record-setting wide receiver who left the Patriots this offseason, will return to Gillette Stadium along with Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos for a Sunday night game on Nov. 24, beginning at 8:30 p.m.

Other nationally-televised games include Sept. 29 at Atlanta (8:30 p.m., NBC), Nov. 18, Nov. 18 at Carolina (8:40 p.m., ESPN) and Dec. 22 at Baltimore (8:30 p.m., NBC).

The Ravens, of course, defeated the Patriots in the AFC championship game last January.

The Patriots will face five teams that made the playoffs last year: Baltimore, Cincinnati, Denver, Houston and Atlanta. Only the Denver game is at Gillette Stadium.

New England does play New Orleans (Oct. 13) and Pittsburgh (Nov. 3) at Gillette Stadium. Those games will begin at 4:25 p.m.

The Patriots also play Tampa Bay (Sept. 22), Miami (Oct. 27) and Cleveland (Dec. 8) at Gillette.

The Patriots will not play the Indianapolis Colts this year, breaking a streak of 10 consecutive seasons in which the teams played each other.


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