With all of the offseason roster changes, player-coach drama, and draft day yet to come, the Patriots better be ready for one of the toughest, and most intriguing schedules they have seen in years.
Let’s break it down:
Bill’s Boys will play in the league maximum five prime time games. The Pats will play three Sunday night games, one Thursday night game and one Monday night game. All five prime-time games will be played in a seven-week stretch, including three in a five-week period at home under the lights. That’s a lot of late night traffic jams on Route 1 and tired Pats fans at work the next day.
The three prime-time home games will be:
Thursday Oct. 4 against the Colts. It would be great if the game was in Indy after the Josh McDaniels soap opera. Sunday Oct. 14 vs. the Chiefs. Let’s hope this goes better than the last time KC came to Gillette.
Sunday Nov. 4. vs the Packers. Praying Aaron Rodgers is healthy this season or at least for this game.
The Patriots will board the KraftAir 747’s and head out for two prime time games: Sunday Sept. 23 at Detroit. This should have been on Thanksgiving against former coach Matt Patricia. Belichick has a 9-4 career record when matching up against former coordinators. Monday Night Football on Oct. 29. The AFC Champs will head to Buffalo. Bills fans will treat this like a Superbowl and be intoxicated and obnoxious for two full weeks in advance.
The Patriots take on both playoff opponents from last year. New England plays at Jacksonville September 16. They are in Tennessee on Nov. 11 to face the Titans and former Patriots LB Mike Vrabel, their new head coach.
Let’s back up to the season opener for a moment when Houston comes to town September 9. Deshaun Watson should be back to test the revamped Pats defense.
The other game worth looking at is on December 9 when the Vikings come to town. They are a popular NFC playoff pick again this year.
For the second straight year, the Patriots will close out the regular season with the same four opponents with games at Miami and at Pittsburgh followed by two consecutive home games against AFC East opponents, the Bills on Dec. 23 and the Jets on Dec. 30. We know at Miami is always tough and was a loss last year, although the Pats were Gronkless. The Steelers will be out for revenge after what happened in front of the towel waving fans last year.
I have not focused much on the pathetic AFC East. The Patriots own the best divisional record in regular-season play with an 81-23 record since the beginning of 2001 and have gone 17 straight seasons without being swept by a division opponent, extending the longest such streak since 1970. I suspect that will continue this year as well.
On paper this is one of the toughest schedules in recent years. I bet there will not be any mindless 19-0 talk this summer like we had last year.
(Parts of this blog were sourced from Patriots.com)