Ok, I’m obviously biased in this analysis since I’m a Patriots fan, but hey, it could very well happen! With the release of the official 2012 NFL schedule today, one can see why the Patriots have the easiest schedule in the league this year (based on last year’s performance). Before you discount the idea of a second undefeated season for the Pats, take a look at the easiest schedule in the league:
(courtesy of NFL.com)
Doesn’t seem very intimidating does it? For the entire season there are only four strong opponents to look forward to playing: Ravens, Broncos, Texans, and 49ers. Every year the Ravens give the Patriots a run for their money, particularly in the AFC Championship game this past year. But how do the games always end? With Tom Brady putting the team on his back and getting the win. The Broncos game this year will be exciting because we’ll get to see a renewal of the legendary Brady-Manning rivalry. If you haven’t already watched the trailer that NFL.com made just for this game, watch it here; it’ll pump you up! While this will be an intense game, I’m confident in the Patriots being able to beat the Broncos, since their defense clearly wasn’t a factor in our AFC Divisional game against them last year.
This year’s game against the Texans will be the first meeting between the two teams since the season finale in Houston during the 2008 season, which ended with Wes Welker tearing his ACL. The Texans are an exciting team to play, and the attack of Schaub-Johnson-Foster will be tough for the Patriots’ defense to counter. However, with all the defensive talent Belichick should draft at the end of the month and the even more potent attack of Brady-Welker-TE’s and now Lloyd, the Pats should be able to handle the Texans. And last but definitely not least, the 49ers. A potential Super Bowl match up, this game will be intense! The 49ers were Brady’s favorite team before the NFL and the team that passed him over in the draft. He still carries that chip on his shoulder today, so he will really want to show them what they passed on in the draft (incase they didn’t already notice the three rings).
The Patriots have a perfect offense on paper. Brady, Welker, Lloyd, Gronk, Hernandez, Edleman, and even Ridley form a deadly offense that could steamroll through any team that shows a hint of weakness. The offense they have now is arguably more complete than the one they had during their undefeated season in 2007. The defense is the only question mark, but the defense from the undefeated season wasn’t much better than last year’s defense; they just got overlooked due to the fact that Brady was throwing 4+ TD’s a game that year. With the added defensive weapons that will likely come from most of the Pats’ two 1st and 2nd round picks plus the added growth and experience of the existing defense, the Patriots will be a very complete team on both sides of the ball with very little weakness. As long as they can afford a fluke loss, keep looking out for the second 16-0 banner to be raised in Foxboro and, hopefully, the Super Bowl banner to follow!