This is the fourth in a four-part series breaking down the 2017 schedule of the New England Patriots. Click here to get analysis and predictions for September, click here for October and click here for November.
The fourth and final month of the upcoming regular season for the New England Patriots is packed with five games in five weeks. While many other teams in the NFL have to deal with the same scenario, it will be another test for the defending Super Bowl champs nonetheless.
Here are the last of the early predictions of how December will play out on the 2017 schedule…
Visiting Buffalo Bills on Sunday, December 3rd
The Bills are obviously going through a rebuilding phase again with a new head coach in Sean McDermott, and they will be hard-pressed to improve upon last year’s 7-9 mark. Still, this is a divisional road matchup, and the Patriots find themselves listed as 7-point favorites. Buffalo did find a way to shock New England on the road last season. But keep in mind, the Pats were forced to start third-string quarterback Jacoby Brissett. When Tom Brady was back later in the year, the Patriots cruised to a 41-25 road victory. Look for another easy win here.
Visiting Miami Dolphins on Monday, December 11th
Miami will be playing New England for the second time in three weeks and catching the team in the second of three consecutive road games. This is a very dangerous spot for the Patriots considering they visit the Steelers the following week. In other words, they could be caught looking ahead to their trip to Pittsburgh and underestimate the Dolphins a bit. As a prime-time affair, this will be Miami’s biggest home game in more than a decade. Fins pull off the stunner.
Visiting Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, December 18th
This is the game on the schedule most critics believe New England will lose in 2017. It makes sense, with the Steelers trying to avenge their embarrassing loss in the AFC Championship Game. However, this is also the type of game where backers of the Patriots have seen their team routinely rise to the occasion and flex their muscles as the defending champs. The odds of New England losing two straight are slim, especially since home-field advantage could be on the line. The Pats will bounce back and show they remain the team to beat with a convincing win.
Hosting Buffalo Bills on Sunday, December 24th
The last two games of the regular season are merely tune-ups for the playoffs despite being divisional matchups. Both are at home and will see New England favored by double digits, as the team already opened at -11.5 for this Week 16 game rematch with Buffalo. The Patriots will not lose this game, but covering the spread is another story, especially if they rest some key players.
Hosting New York Jets on Sunday, December 31st
Again, there’s little chance New England loses its home finale versus the Jets. That is, unless the Patriots have absolutely nothing to play for and rest their starters. At worst, they should end up 3-2 in December (with loss at Pittsburgh) and 12-4 overall. But I’m betting on 4-1 and 13-3.