12. Washington Redskins (AWAY)
The Patriots will travel to FedEx Field this fall with a very real opportunity to atone for their struggles on the road in 2018. New England notably went just 3-5 away from Foxborough this season, and while it wasn’t enough ultimately to derail their championship quest, the team knows they’ll most likely need to play a lot better on the road next season if they hope to repeat.
It’s rare for the Patriots to go on the road in the playoffs and win games. To be fair, the Patriots are usually playing at home during the playoffs because they usually have the conference’s best or second-best record at season’s end. But especially with Kansas City’s emergence as a true threat within the conference for years to come (thanks to Patrick Mahomes, the league MVP), it’s never been more important for New England to gun for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
The Patriots have an easier road schedule this coming season than they did in the one that just ended: they avoid going to Pittsburgh or Kansas City, for starters. They also face just three teams with winning records on the road next year: Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Houston. Their other five road opponents: Miami, Buffalo, New York, Cincinnati, and Washington, all finished 2018 with more losses than wins.
Of that group, Washington looks to be the easiest out next season. The Redskins were a surprise contender for most of September and October last year before Alex Smith’s gruesome leg injury absolutely torpedoed their season. Smith is slowly making his recovery, but whether or not he’ll ever be able to take the field again remains uncertain. Specifically as it relates to the Patriots next season, it would probably take a miracle for him to come back.
So as things stand, Washington is without a capable starting quarterback heading into 2019. That could change via free agency or the draft, but the situation looks pretty bleak for the Redskins currently, which should make a Patriots victory all the easier.