Aug 28, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) looks on against the New York Giants during the second quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

New England Patriots Most Intriguing 2014 Matchups

The wait is nearly over. NFL action begins tomorrow with the Seahawks and Packers squaring off on Thursday Night Football, but Patriots fans will have to wait until Sunday to see their team take the field for the first time. The Patriots kick off the season on the road against the Miami Dolphins and will certainly want to get out of the gate strong in an important divisional matchup. But while the first game is important for the team to set the tone for the season, it’s certainly not the most important game on the schedule. Let’s take a look at the Patriots most intriguing matchups of the 2014 season.

5. Week 7, October 16 vs. NY Jets

The first matchup of the season between the AFC East’s top rivals doesn’t come until week seven and the NFL has given the matchup the respect it deserves by showcasing it on Thursday Night Football. Depending on how the Jets and Patriots get out of the gate in 2014, this game could very well be for first place in the AFC East. While the Patriots are more likely to be competing for another AFC East crown than New York, the Jets have made some moves to try and get back in the mix in the AFC East, most notably by adding former Titans running back Chris Johnson and former Broncos receiver Eric Decker. Those could be the pieces Rex Ryan and Gino Smith, who looks to build off his challenging rookie campaign, need to challenge the Patriots in 2014. Ohh, and this will be Darrelle Revis’s first chance to face off against his old team in a Patriots uniform. That’s certainly a consistent storyline we can expect to hear in the lead up to this one.

4. Week 13, November 30 at Green Bay Packers

The last time the Patriots and the Packers faced off Aaron Rodgers was watching from the sidelines as Matt Flynn nearly defeated Tom Brady. It’s not likely that Rodgers would have played better than Flynn that day, though, given that he threw for three scores. OK – I take it back. That game actually ended with the Packers driving within one score when Flynn mismanaged the clock, a mistake Rodgers likely wouldn’t have made, and the Patriots won as a result. Any time two of the best quarterbacks in the league face off, it’s sure to garner the attention of NFL fans all around the country and that’s why this is one of the marquee matchups of 2014.

3. Week 14, December 7 at San Diego Chargers

The Patriots and the Chargers have a lot of history and their matchups are always fun to watch. Chargers fans have not forgotten their team’s back to back playoff losses to the Patriots in 2006 and 2007 and with both teams coming off strong 2013 campaigns, expect both clubs to be in the mix for the AFC title this year. The Chargers have the potential to have one of the best passing attacks in the NFL this season and if the Patriots secondary plays up to its potential, watching those units square off should be special. This is certainly one of the Patriots most intriguing matchups of the year and given that it’s in week 14 against a top AFC contender, it should have serious playoff implications as well.

2. Week 11, November 16 at Indianapolis Colts

A lot has changed for the Patriots since their playoff rout of the Indianapolis Colts last year. Former Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount, now riding high with the Pittsburgh Steelers, absolutely dominated the Colts that day, leaving little work for Tom Brady and the rest of the offense. With Blount off to greener pastures (Ok, I’ll stop) and the Patriots offense not likely to be featuring the run that much, this one should boil down to which quarterback plays better, Brady or the Colts’ Andrew Luck. Most NFL analysts are expecting more improvement and a big season for Luck this year, so we should expect both teams to be in the playoff hunt and this game to have implications on AFC seeding, particularly at week eleven. The fact that this game features two top AFC teams who met in the playoffs last year and pits an up and coming star against a future hall of famer makes this game circle worthy if your fan of either team.

1. Week 9, November 2 vs. Denver Broncos

There is little argument that the most important matchup going into this Patriots’ season is the week nine tilt against Peyton Manning’s Denver Broncos. Not only is it the next chapter in the Brady-Manning Bowl, but it’s also a rematch of last year’s AFC Championship Game. The Patriots engineered one of the greatest comebacks in franchise history during last year’s regular season matchup against Manning and the Broncos, but looked seriously overmatched in the AFC Championship Game. It’s very possible the Patriots and Broncos will be battling for the AFC’s top seed this season and if that is how it plays out then this game will be instrumental in determining who’ll be playing at home in January. Not only is this one of the biggest games on the Patriots’ schedule, but it will also be one of the most hyped games of the entire NFL season. With Brady and Manning both in the twilight of their careers, we just don’t know how many more times we’ll get to see them square off, so this is not a game you want to miss.

Honorable Mentions

Week 5 vs. Bengals, Week 16 at Jets, Week 8 vs. Bears

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