Every year in April the NFL releases the schedule and fans and media alike play the win/loss game with the schedule in front of them. Not a down of football has been played. The NFL draft is still two weeks away. Rosters have not taken shape as of yet. Still the ritual of each and every spring is a fun way to think that football is coming back sooner rather than later. With that, I give you an early look at what may happen to the New England Patriots this season.
Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 11, at Arizona Cardinals, 8:30 p.m.
What a way to start off the regular season with a trip out west to the other runner-up in the NFL conference champion. The Arizona Cardinals scored thirty plus points per game last season. This game has all the makings of a shootout between two veteran signal callers in Tom Brady and Carson Palmer. The Patriots will also see old friend Chandler Jones in the opener. The game will have a playoff atmosphere as the Cards will be trying to prove something at home. The Pats will drop the opener but fear not in three of the four championship seasons the team started 0-1
Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 18, vs Miami Dolphins, 1 p.m.
The Patriots home opener will come against Adam Gase and his new look Miami Dolphins. The Fins always faded down the stretch with former coach Joe Philbin. Gase is one of the better offensive minds in the NFL, but after opening the season on the west coast against the Seattle Seahawks it’s a tall order to come across country to Foxborough and win. The Patriots will get their first win of the season.
Week 3: Thursday, Sept. 22, vs. Houston Texans 8:25 p.m.
The Texans now have a Quarterback and one that has beaten the Patriots in Brock Osweiler, but that will not be enough against the Patriot at home on a Thursday night. JJ Watt and company will surely keep Tom Brady alert, but the offensive line will certainly play better this year. The new tight end combo of Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett will allow Brady to get the ball off as quick as ever. The only question remaining is if the Texans will wear those sweet letterman’s jackets?
Week 4: Sunday, Oct. 2, vs. Buffalo Bills, 1 p.m.
The annual Rex Ryan media talk week will begin and Rex will let you know that his team will be ready to win. No coach has given Brady fits the way that Ryan has. All the talk and pressure doesn’t add up to wins. It will be interesting to see how Rex defends the Patriots offense, as even he admitted he had “no idea how to defend” the new Patriots tight end duo. The Patriots should win this one after having 10 days to prepare for it.
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 9, at Cleveland Browns, 1 p.m.
The Brown on the road should not be a problem. Any road game has to be looked at as a possible loss. The Browns, on the other hand, are not exactly the best team in the world. If Robert Griffen III plays well and gives the Browns the semblance of a decent quarterback they could be decent at best. This is a case where the Pats will just be too good for the Browns.
Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 16, vs. Cincinnati Bengals, 1 p.m.
It’s onto Cincinnati. The Patriots famous battle cry from the 2014 season will once again be heard around the greater New England area. The Bengals have made the playoff a lot in the last few years but can never get over the hump. With the Bengals losing receivers Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones the offense won’t be the same. Will newly signed Brandon LaFell be the answer opposite AJ Green? The Patriots should get another win at home.
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 23, at Pittsburgh Steelers, 4:25 p.m.
A trip to Pittsburgh at the end of October did not treat the 2004 Patriots well, and this will also be an extremely tough game for the 2016 Pats. The Patriots dodged a bullet in the opener last season when Le’Veon Bell was out for the game. This time, the Steelers should have their full arsenal of players. In what I believe will be the eventual AFC Championship game matchup, the Patriots will lose their second game of the season.
Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 30, at Buffalo Bills, 1 p.m.
Traveling to Buffalo is never easy. The stadium is always loud and full of crazy less than sober individuals. In all the stadiums that I have had the privilege to attend a game at, Buffalo is my favorite. The rivalry is there and it’s a fun weekend trip. It will also be a fun trip for the boys it the road whites as the Patriots are still the better team. Most likely it will come down to a field goal but trust in Stephen Gostkowski.
Week 9: BYE
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 13, vs. Seattle Seahawks, 8:30 p.m.
A rematch of what was arguably the best Super Bowl of all time will take place on NBC’s Sunday Night Football. Al Micheals and Chris Collinsworth will undoubtedly give Patriots fans a reason to smile with a flashback to Super Bowl 49. The home team will give the Foxboro faithful grins as they leave with another victory. Its a sure thing that Richard Sherman will be mad bro.
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 20, at San Francisco 49ers, 4:25 p.m.
There will be nothing better than a trip to California as the weather starts to turn colder in the Northeast. New 49ers head coach Chip Kelly pulled the upset in New England last season with the Eagles. You can bet your house on Bill Belichick not having Nate Ebner rugby style a football and turn momentum. I am interested to see if Kelly can make Colin Kaepernick a household name again. The Pats will win this one in a stadium they hoped to win in to close out the 2015 season.
Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 27, at New York Jets, 8:30 p.m.
Todd Bowles had the Jets playing well last season, and provided they can get good quarterback play they should again be a challenge for the Patriots. Last year a week 15 loss to the Jets knocked the Patriots out of the number one seed in the AFC Playoffs. The Jets are building a solid program. It will be a tough game for the Pats in East Rutherford. The Patriots will drop this game.
Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 4, vs. Los Angeles Rams, 1 p.m.
The Rams moved back to La La land this offseason but things are not going to change anytime soon for the franchise. Even after mortgaging their future for the first overall pick in this season’s NFL Draft this is not a team that should beat the Patriots. Jeff Fisher is a mediocre coach at best, and I wonder how he continues to have a job when he hasn’t had a winning season since 2008. Patriots win this one easy.
Week 14: Monday, Dec. 12, vs. Baltimore Ravens, 8:30 p.m.
Baltimore versus the Patriots always sends chills down my spine. John Harbaugh may be the second best coach in the league behind the man in the hoodie. His team gives the Patriots a run for their money every time they play. This will be the first times the teams have played since the eligible/ineligible receiver game that caused Harbaugh so much trouble. Expect the Pats to dig deep into the rule book and play mind games with the Ravens in another victory.
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 18, at Denver Broncos, 4:25 p.m.
At this moment, the Broncos quarterback is Mark “Butt Fumble” Sanchez. While the Broncos defense was at its best at the end of last season, the question is can they do it again? There has been a lot of turnover on the defensive side of the ball for Denver. This is a revenge game for the Patriots and they will want to win. They should win.
Week 16: Saturday, Dec. 24, vs. Jets, 1 p.m.
Home against the Jets for Christmas Eve. Boys and girls, young and old will get an early visit from Santa as the Patriots will get the victory in week 16 this season to secure home-field playoff position in the playoffs.
Week 17: Sunday, Jan. 1, at Dolphins, 1 p.m.
The Patriots will have little to play for in this game having already wrapped up the one seed. That means it’s Jimmy G time. The Patriots will lose in Miami but it will not matter for playoff seeding.
Final Record 12-4