The 2014 NFL schedule is (finally) out, and it seems the Patriots have a relatively favorable slate, despite many tough opponents.
In fact, there are three different times when New England will face 2013 playoff teams in back-to-back weeks.
But in today's debate, we try to settle this question:
Which stretch of the Patriots 2014 schedule will be the toughest?
Read the arguments from the Patriots Football Weekly writers, then cast your vote in our Samsonite Make Your Case poll.
Andy Hart says...
"Consecutive road trips to Green Bay, San Diego..."
](/schedule-and-stats/index.html)There are plenty of interesting games on the Patriots schedule for 2014. The premier matchup remains the battle with the Broncos, aka Brady vs. Manning XVI! Opening in the Miami heat with a possibly limited roster has upset potential. And three separate back-to-back meetings with 2013 playoff teams are all interesting.
But I think the toughest stretch is the two week road swing to Green Bay and San Diego on Nov. 30 and Dec. 7. It brings a couple battles with two of the better passers in the NFL, at least the way Philip Rivers rebounded last fall. It could be two very different climates in a week's span. It's a trip home after a late afternoon Sunday affair to prep for a likely rare Friday travel day to San Diego.
The Patriots have always been a very good team late in the year and in games after Thanksgiving or in December. Still, the two trips to take on playoff-caliber opponents will be a major late-season test for Bill Belichick's troops.
Erik Scalavino says...
"The month of September..."
](/schedule-and-stats/index.html)The Patriots start the season with three road games in four weeks, two of which are in some of the toughest road venues in the NFL.
Playing in Miami is always an adventure for New England – even more so when it's in the middle of the day in the oppressive heat and humidity under the South Florida sun. Consequently, the season opener against the Dolphins could be tougher than many might expect.
It shouldn't be arctic in September when the Patriots visit Minnesota, but facing the league's best rusher in Adrian Peterson (New England struggled against the run mightily at times last year) will be a stiff challenge. The only game at Gillette will be against an upgraded and potentially underrated Raiders squad.
This stretch concludes with a Monday Night tilt in Kansas City's Arrowhead Stadium, one of the most difficult places to win in pro football, and against a team that made the playoffs a year ago. Meanwhile, the Patriots could find themselves without some of their key components who are still coming back from serious injuries (e.g. Rob Gronkowski, Vince Wilfork, etc.).
All those things considered, plus the fact that Bill Belichick's teams typically play their best football in November and December, I say the first month of the season will be the toughest stretch for the 2014 Patriots.
Your turn! Cast your vote in this week's Samsonite Make Your Case poll.