Patriots Mailbag: What Does The Schedule Entail?
The New England Patriots have done an excellent job this season, especially on defense. Surprisingly, there were no questions regarding how good this team is… except for one. Let’s get into it!
“Is Antonio Brown done with football???”
The Patriots released Brown after 11 days with the team. However, I don’t believe he’s done yet. I do believe he is done for the rest of this season and possibly next season, but his skills are overwhelmingly tantalizing and I doubt teams would pass up on that when everything around him clears. His character issues are very obviously a problem, but there’s always that one team that looks past that (cough, Cleveland, cough). He will find a gig somewhere, but if he soils that next opportunity, then it’s safe to assume that, yes, Antonio Brown is done with football.
“After cutting Antonio Brown, is 19-0 still on?”
I came to the conclusion that even with Brown, the Patriots wouldn’t have an undefeated season. Quite simply, the injuries continue to pile up on the offensive side of the football.
Week one, you had the veteran right tackle Marcus Cannon go down. Week two, it was left tackle Isaiah Wynn getting injured and then placed on IR. Then, in week three, Julian Edelman got shaken up with a rib injury.
Before the season, first-round pick N’Keal Harry, wide receiver Cameron Meredith and center David Andrews all had issues that led to them not playing a single game (Harry and Meredith are eligible to return week 8, Andrews is out for the season with blood clots in his lungs).
Those major losses to the offensive line have led to major problems for the running game, and the Patriots don’t have a lethal tight end option to utilize, which helps opposing coverage schemes attempt to take away passing options.
The Patriots haven’t faced a legitimately good defense either, they’ve only faced the pathetic Dolphins and the Jets. Eventually they’ll face a good defense that the offense will get stuffed by, and eventually our stout defense will be beaten enough to lose a game. It’s only a matter of time, in my honest opinion.
“Who are the Patriots? I’m no nerd.”
“Why do the Patriots always get the easiest schedule?”
The Patriots had enough luck to be placed in a division as weak as the AFC East. The Jets, Bills and Dolphins are all extremely inferior to the Patriots and have been for quite some time. Take into consideration that every NFL team plays each team in their division twice a year, leading the Patriots to play 6 “easy” games every season.
The other 10 opponents that they play against outside of their division are the Steelers, Redskins, Giants, Browns, Ravens, Eagles, Cowboys, Texans, Chiefs and Bengals.
The pattern is this; they play one other AFC division’s teams, with 1 game against each (marking 4 more games); they play one team from the two other divisions that they don’t play once (marking 2 more games); to finish, they play an NFC division’s teams, with 1 game against each (marking 4 more games).
They play the entire AFC North division this season, as well as the entire NFC East division. To finish, they play the Chiefs, who represent the AFC West, and the Texans, who represent the AFC South. Each team follows that same pattern.
The Easy Start
They already faced one of those 10 teams listed, the Steelers, and won that game 33-3. It’s safe to assume the Steelers were expected to be better than they have played thus far; that outcome unfolded unexpectedly, and the Patriots lucked out.
Next up are the Redskins, who are 0-3. The Patriots will likely win that match-up, but that should be the easiest of the match-ups; you can’t blame the Patriots for the Redskins to be in the division that they were assigned to play against.
After them, the Patriots are looking at facing the New York Giants, who are 1-2 but have a new starting quarterback in Daniel Jones that looked really good in his first career start. They could realistically stick with New England in a game.
Next up, the Cleveland Browns, who have started 1-2 despite high expectations. Regardless of record, they still have talent on both sides of the ball and could pose a real threat to the Patriots potential undefeated season.
The Beginning Of The Tough Stretch
Then the 2-1 Ravens, who always give the Patriots issues. They still have a very good defense, and their constantly bashed passing game has looked much better this season. The Ravens are a dangerous team who could also beat the Patriots.
Then the 2-2 Eagles, coming off a surprising win over Green Bay. They’re also talented, and Carson Wentz could cause some fits for the Patriots stout defense.
The Cowboys have been a very good team this season, and Dak Prescott looks like a much better quarterback this season than last, while Ezekial Elliot remains a top back, and nothing like the Patriots have faced this season. They could beat the Patriots as well.
The Big Dogs
Then you have the Texans, who are led by the uber-talented DeShaun Watson, with the ever-reliable DeAndre Hopkins at his disposal and the overlooked Duke Johnson Jr. in the backfield. Houston could also be a problem.
Then it’s the Chiefs, with the real-deal Patrick Mahomes, the return of the cheetah Tyreek Hill, the emergence of MeCole Hardman, Sammy Watkins and DeMarcus Robinson, the near-impossible to cover Travis Kelce, the young buck running back DeAngelo Williams, the new-look veteran LeSean McCoy and so much more. Plus a revamped and improved defense, and you’ve got a Chiefs team that very well could blow the Patriots out.
Finally, the Patriots finish the year with an easy match-up against the Bengals. The Bengals are a disaster again, as they have started 0-3 this season, and the Patriots should beat them.
Basically, my point is this: the Patriots have an “easy” schedule because of their weak division, but outside of their 6 divisional match-ups, they have 7 potentially tough games.
Thank you to those that did ask me questions and I will be sure to post multiple mailbags this season.
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Records and schedule via nfl.com