The Patriots spent much of the first half of the season at home, playing five of their first eight games in the friendly confines of Gillette Stadium. Things will change in the second half, particularly right out of the gates after the bye when New England will play five of its next six games on the road.
The first two of those roadies will be played at altitude in Denver against the Broncos and then in Mexico City against the Raiders. The Broncos have been a menace to the Patriots virtually every time they've hosted New England, but things aren't exactly going swimming at the moment in the Mile High City as the Broncos have lost four straight.
Meanwhile the Raiders aren't lighting it up either, but with Derek Carr and a deep group of wide receiver the Oakland offense has the capabilities of causing problems.
So of these first two road games, our Samsonite Make Your Case question of the week wonders which one will be the most difficult obstacle.
PFW's Andy Hart says ...
The Patriots have not played well in Denver under Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, and there is no other venue in the NFL where that is the case. Whether it's the mile high air or the stadium or the opponent, the Patriots never seem to play up to their capabilities in Denver. The Broncos still have a formidable defense and their home crowd can be intimidating, especially when Von Miller and the pass rush become a factor. Couple that with the Patriots struggles protecting Brady this season and it's easy to envision the Broncos defense causing some problems. The Oakland game will also be played at a high altitude but the Patriots don't have to worry about any skeletons in their closet from past failures in Mexico City. That's why the trip to Denver will be the toughest.
PFW's Paul Perillo says ...
There is no debating that playing in Denver has been a house of horrors for the Patriots throughout their existence and that has been the case even with Bill Belichick and Tom Brady treating the rest of the league like their own personal video game. But the big difference here is, in general the Broncos teams that have caused problems have been very good. This Denver team is not, at least not on offense and that's my big concern. Oakland, on the other hand, hasn't been anything to write home about but the Raiders have to ability to put points on the board. That's the formula for success against the Patriots, especially this season where New England has allowed three opponents to score 33 or more points. The altitude is a wash, but the Raiders are more dangerous.
Now it's your turn to cast your vote in this week's Samsonite Make Your Case poll question.