Image courtesy of the New England Patriots.
The Patriots 2020 schedule has been unveiled and it is a bear. The Patriots have the toughest schedule in the NFL. When you look at their schedule, it is best to break down in four game increments. That will help you better evaluate how the Patriots could fare in 2020. Here is my breakdown of the Patriots schedule and how they will finish.
Miami Dolphins (H), @ Seattle Seahawks, Las Vegas Raiders (H), @ Kansas City Chiefs: When I look at the first quarter of the Patriots schedule, it is going to be tough to get off to a good start. The Patriots host old friend Brian Flores and the Dolphins week one. Miami is much improved and they will be confident after winning in Foxboro to close out the 2019 season.
The Patriots travel to Seattle week two to take on the Seahawks on Sunday Night Football. If fans are allowed in stadiums, this will be a tough game for Jarrett Stidham (assuming he is the starter). The 12’s will impact this game. How the Patriots handle the crowd and adjust will be key. Containing Russell Wilson and limiting Seattle’s ability to make big plays will also be important.
The Patriots return home to face Jon Gruden and the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 3. The Raiders will be better and with the move to Vegas, the expectations are high for them. This will be a tough game but a winnable game for the Patriots.
Week four, the Patriots travel to Kansas City for a rematch of the 2018 AFC Championship game. Arrowhead is arguably the toughest place to play in the NFL. This will be a tough game for the Patriots to win. The defending Super Bowl champion Chiefs return the majority of their roster and they will once again be the team to beat in the AFC.
Denver Broncos (H), San Francisco 49ers (H), @ Buffalo Bills
Drew Lock and the Broncos visit Foxboro in Week 5. On paper, Denver is much improved. They added receivers Jerry Jeudy and K.J Hamler in the draft and signed running back Melvin Gordon in free agency. Denver’s high octane offense will score points so this game could be a shootout.
Week 6: Bye week: Early bye week but that might not be bad because it could give the Patriots a chance to “reset” if they get off to a tough start.
The 49ers come to town in Week 7. It will be the first time Jimmy Garoppolo takes on his former team and the man who traded him, Bill Belichick. On paper, this will be a tough match up for the Patriots. San Francisco is big, physical and can dominate the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. From a talent standpoint, San Francisco is the superior team. This will be a tough game for the Patriots to win.
The Patriots travel to Buffalo in week 8. Buffalo has always played the Patriots tough at home but this season could be different seeing that the Bills will be favored to win the division. This will be a statement game for Buffalo. The pressure will be on them to prove that they are the best team in the division. The Patriots could steal this game.
@ New York Jets, Baltimore Ravens (H), @ Houston Texans Arizona Cardinals (H)
Week nine the Patriots travel to New York to battle the Jets on Monday Night Football. The Patriots humiliated the Jets last season on MNF in the infamous Sam Darnold “seeing ghosts” game. This game could be a little different this time around however.
Conversely, the Patriots will look to avenge their first loss of last season when the Ravens visit Gillette Stadium in Week 10. Baltimore ran through the Patriots in convincing win at home last season that propelled them to the number one seed in the AFC. Baltimore could be even better this season so this looks like another tough home game for Belichick and company.
Week 11 features a visit to Houston, site of one of the worst performance of last season for the Patriots. It is always a close game when these two teams meet and I wouldn’t expect anything different this upcoming season. Both teams have overhauled their rosters and this game could have early division and playoff implications for both teams.
Kyler Murray and the Cardinals descend upon Foxboro in Week 12. In the past, this would have been a “winnable” game but not anymore. The Cardinals added DeAndre Hopkins this off-season and drafted linebacker Isaiah Simmons. They have a talented roster and expect to contend for a playoff spot. Another game that could end up a shootout.
@ Los Angeles Chargers, @ Los Angeles Rams, Buffalo Bills (H) New York Jets (H)
I am going to clump the Los Angeles games together as the Patriots will spend a week and a half in Los Angeles playing the Chargers and Rams in back to back weeks. I find this scheduling interesting yet sensible. Both the Chargers and Rams are playoff contenders in theory but also have a fair amount of question marks heading into the season. In many ways, these two games could determine whether or not the Patriots make the playoffs.
The Patriots return east Week 15 when they visit Miami to battle the Dolphins. Miami has been a house of horrors for the Patriots in the Brady Belichick. The Patriots blew the Dolphins out last season in Miami but this game will be different. Could the Dolphins put an end to the Patriots playoff hopes in this game? It is possible.
After three weeks on the road, the Patriots return home on December 28th to take on the Buffalo Bills on Monday Night Football. If the Patriots somehow survive this brutal schedule and stay in playoff contention, this game could determine who wins the division and secures a possible playoff spot.
The Patriots wrap up the 2020 season with a home game against the Jets. This could be a ticket give away game assuming fans will be attending games. The Patriots will either be sitting starters because they made the playoffs or this will be a meaningless regular season finally and people will give away their tickets.
Projected Record: 9-7: Schedule aside. If the Patriots stay healthy, play good defense, run the football and Jarrett Stidham plays well (assuming he’s the starter), they could contend for a playoff spot. I don’t envision a Super Bowl run but there is still enough talent on hand to be competitive. I think double digit wins will be a tall order however.