This is the second in a four-part series breaking down the 2017 schedule of the New England Patriots. Click here to get analysis and predictions for the first month.
The second month of last season for the New England Patriots showed that Tom Brady was more than ready to win his fifth Super Bowl. Brady led the Patriots to a perfect 4-0 mark in his first four games back after his suspension. He threw for 1,319 yards (330 per game) and 12 touchdowns.
You can make an argument that last year’s second quarter was tougher considering New England played three of four on the road. This year, the Patriots have two road games followed by two at home. The highlight is a Super Bowl 51 rematch against the Atlanta Falcons at Gillette Stadium in Week 7. Here’s an early breakdown of how the second four games of the 2017 schedule look…
Visiting Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday, October 5th
The Buccaneers were much-improved a season ago under first-year head coach Dirk Koetter. But the NFC South is again one of the toughest divisions in the NFL. The last two NFC Super Bowl representatives have come from the NFC South, and it will be hard for Tampa Bay to be better than last year’s 9-7 mark. A step back would not be a surprise, although adding veteran wide receiver DeSean Jackson gives quarterback Jameis Winston another deep threat. Even so, New England’s secondary will be the difference, and the Bucs were just 4-4 at home in 2016. This is the second prime-time game for the defending Super Bowl champs, and they will improve to 2-0.
Visiting New York Jets on Sunday, October 15th
This should be the easiest game for New England in the first two months of the season. Las Vegas oddsmakers already have the team listed as a 9.5-point road favorite at New York. The Jets look to be one of the worst teams in the league again. It would not be surprising to see them win less than the five games they won last year. Look for the Pats to win this one handily by double digits.
Hosting Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, October 22nd
New England is a 6.5-point favorite versus Atlanta, and you can bet the players for both sides will really be fired up for this one. The Falcons will invade Gillette on Sunday Night Football, and you can probably expect more of the same offensively from Brady & Co. that you saw in the fourth quarter and overtime of the Super Bowl. Whatever the Pats figured out late in the Super Bowl obviously worked. Look for James White to be a hero again in a home victory not nearly as close.
Hosting Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday, October 29th
This is the first game on the 2017 schedule in which New England is a double-digit favorite right now. But that will probably change by the time this game kicks off, as the Patriots will likely end up being double-digit road faves against the Jets in Week 6 as well. A strong start in the first two weeks could also see them favored by double digits in Weeks 3 and 4 hosting the Houston Texans and Carolina Panthers, respectively. Regardless, the Chargers could be a tougher opponent than many think, so don’t be surprised if they cover the spread despite losing.