One of the spoils of being champion: The New England Patriots will kick off the N.F.L. season on Sept. 7 by hosting the Kansas City Chiefs.
New England earned that honor with its record comeback to beat Atlanta in the Super Bowl. Its opening opponent in a Thursday night game won the A.F.C. West last season. The Falcons visit Chicago in their first game.
The rest of the opening weekend will feature what seems like a yearly occurrence, with Dallas hosting the Giants on Sunday night. They finished one-two in the N.F.C. East in 2016.
On Monday night, New Orleans is at Minnesota, followed by the Chargers, in their first game representing Los Angeles since 1960, at Denver.
Five games will be held abroad, beginning with Baltimore vs. Jacksonville in London on Sept. 24. The next week, Miami will play New Orleans there. In Week 7, the Rams play the Cardinals in London, followed the next week by Minnesota vs. Cleveland.
New England is the visitor against Oakland at Mexico City on Nov. 19.
Thanksgiving’s traditional games will have Minnesota at Detroit and the Chargers at Dallas. In prime time, the Redskins will be home for the Giants.
Christmas weekend will be busy. Two Saturday matches have Indianapolis at Baltimore in late afternoon, and Minnesota at Green Bay at night on Dec. 23. Most of the rest of the schedule will be played on Dec. 24. On Christmas Day, Pittsburgh will go to Houston in a late-afternoon matchup, followed by Oakland at Philadelphia.
The Falcons are scheduled to open their new stadium in an N.F.C. championship rematch with Green Bay on Sunday night in Week 2. Atlanta has five prime-time games, the same as New England. A Super Bowl rematch will be played Sunday night, Oct. 22.
StubHub Center, the new and temporary home of the Chargers, will have its first regular-season contest in Week 2 when Miami visits.
Every team except Cleveland and Jacksonville will get prime-time exposure. Neither of those clubs has a Thursday game, either. It’s the first time since the league went to a full season of Thursday night football that any clubs have been omitted.
EX-LINEMAN’S KILLER SENTENCED The man who killed the retired New Orleans Saints defensive lineman Will Smith and wounded his wife after crashing his sport utility vehicle into Smith’s car last year was sentenced to 25 years in prison — far less than the maximum prosecutors had sought.
The defendant, Cardell Hayes, faced up to 60 years if given consecutive maximum terms for manslaughter and attempted manslaughter. Instead, Judge Camille Buras allowed Hayes to serve his sentences at the same time.
Hayes, 29, a former semiprofessional football player, apologized for the April 2016 shooting but maintained that he had feared for his life.
Hayes said he had shot in self-defense after Smith fired a gun at him, but no other witness or evidence supported his claim. A handgun was found in Smith’s car, but it had not been fired.
Smith was shot eight times, seven in the back, after Hayes crashed his sport utility vehicle into Smith’s car. Surveillance video from before the confrontation showed Smith’s Mercedes possibly bumping Hayes’s Hummer, then driving away.
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