16. Miami Dolphins (HOME – Week 1)
The 2019 Patriots finished their regular season at home versus the Dolphins.
The 2020 Patriots will begin their regular season at home versus the Dolphins.
Last year, I ranked New England’s Week 17 home date against Miami as their easiest game on the schedule.
Of course, that ended up being a game they somehow lost — and it essentially changed the whole narrative of the Patriots’ postseason, dropping them from the No. 2 seed in the AFC and a first-round bye to the No. 3 seed and a Wild Card game against a Tennessee Titans team that ended up beating them en route to the AFC Championship.
In fairness to me, I also had the Patriots’ games against the Texans, Ravens, and Chiefs listed among their top-four most difficult games in 2019, and all three of those games did end up being losses for New England along with the Week 17 Miami game. (In case you’re curious, the other game I had in the top-four of difficulty was Philadelphia, and that also proved accurate even though New England managed to win.)
But back to the Dolphins in 2020.
Head coach Brian Flores, formerly the Patriots “defensive coordinator,” will be out to prove that his victory over mentor Bill Belichick in the final week of the season last year was no fluke. Belichick, likewise, will be looking to reassert the idea that the apprentice is still no match for the master in the grand scheme of things.
This game will also be our first opportunity to see Jarrett Stidham as New England’s new starting quarterback. With all due respect to Flores and the Dolphins defense, it could have been a much tougher draw for Stidham in his first real NFL start.
He should do enough on offense (*cough cough, hand the ball off*) to not get in the way of New England’s defense shutting down Miami. This should be a win for the Pats.