A supposedly wise man once said that it’s better to evaluate a team’s schedule after the season.
No, his birth certificate does not actually say Captain Obvious.
Sure, by the time January rolls around we’ll know how difficult the Patriots 2018 schedule was and which games were the toughest.
But waiting for that would be no fun. Anyone can look at the scoreboard results and season records. Real fans and media prefer to project how things will play out long before it happens.
With that in mind as we are now under a week’s time until Bill Belichick opens up training camp at Gillette Stadium, we take a look at the six toughest games the Patriots will have this fall.
6. Week 14, at Miami – Traveling to South Beach to take on the Dolphins is never easy. Doing so in early December coming off a battle with a talented, physical Vikings team in Foxborough will make this latest trip to Miami another tough one.
5. Week 1, Houston – New England gets the benefit of facing the Texans early, maybe before young gun Deshaun Watson gets back to full speed. Of course, as we learned last year, opening day can be a massive unknown on both sides of the ball. Bill B. vs. Bill O. No Julian Edelman. Lots to wonder and worry about in this one, including the Texans talented defensive front against a new-look offensive line.
4. Week 9, Green Bay – Assuming both stay healthy until November, this is a battle between two future Hall of Fame quarterbacks in Foxborough. Both teams carry questions about their pass defense with them into this potential pass-heavy shootout. This one should be fun, and a tough test for New England.
3. Week 13, Minnesota – If Kirk Cousins can live up to his guaranteed contract, the Vikings have all the tools to be a Super Bowl contender. Minnesota has playmakers all over its defense and more than enough weapons on offense. Maybe things change by early December, but this one looks like a possible Super Bowl preview at Gillette.
2. Week 15, at Pittsburgh – New England has a history of taking care of business against the Steelers, including a year ago on the road. Still, Pittsburgh’s three-headed monster of offensive stars -- yes, Le’Veon Bell will play -- is formidable for any defense to deal with. It’s also the third of a tough trio of games that includes hosting the Vikings and traveling to Miami.
1. Week 2, at Jacksonville – Belichick’s team has had its struggles early in the season in recent years. The Jaguars had the Patriots on the ropes in last January’s AFC title game. Combine those two factors and this makes for a challenging September road contest. Oh, and many think the Jags are the most talented all-around team in football, even with Blake Bortles retaining his job at quarterback.
What do you think of our list? Pittsburgh game too high? Let us know with a comment below!