3. Baltimore Ravens (HOME – Week 10)
For my money, this is easily the hardest home game the Patriots have on their 2020 schedule.
While New England’s schedule overall this year looks much more difficult than previous years — at least on paper — the home schedule isn’t nearly as daunting as the road schedule.
Dolphins, Raiders, Broncos, 49ers, Ravens, Cardinals, Bills, Jets … that’s not an easy stretch by any means. But look at the road schedule: Seahawks, Chiefs, Bills, Jets, Texans, Chargers, Rams, Dolphins.
If you’ve been keeping track at home and checking teams off as I list them, you’ll no doubt realize I have those first two road trips — against the Seahawks and Chiefs — ranked as the two most difficult games the Pats will play all year.
The two L.A. teams are talented, the Bills will be out for vengeance at home, the Texans won last year at home against New England, and even the Dolphins game should be more similar to previous Miami road trips in degree of difficult than it was last season. Only the Jets road trip seems readily winnable at this point.
By comparison, home games against all three AFC East rivals, plus home games against the Cardinals, Broncos, and Raiders, seem like they could all go New England’s way in 2020. Only the two home games against the 49ers and the Ravens loom large as potential surefire losses — and that’s why I have them ranked as No. 5 and No. 3 on this list, respectively, in terms of difficulty.
The Ravens beat the Patriots by 17 points in Baltimore last season. At the time, New England was 8-0 and there was honest talk about another 16-0 season.
And then Lamar Jackson happened.
Jackson and the high-powered Baltimore offense gave the Boogeymen Patriots defense fits for most of the first half. Belichick and the New England D made some nice halftime adjustments, but overall it wasn’t enough to claw their way back to a win.
What’s different in 2020? A lot for the Patriots (Brady, Van Noy, Collins are all gone). Not a lot for the Ravens.
If anything, Batlimore might be even scarier this season on both sides of the ball. Even with this game coming in Massachusetts instead of Maryland, this looks like an L for the Pats.