The New England Patriots have one of the toughest schedules in the NFL, but let’s take a look at what the most challenging stretch of games is going to be.
According to NFL Research, the New England Patriots have the toughest strength of schedule entering 2020 based on their opponent’s 2019 win record (.537 percent).
When I first look at any Patriots schedule, I break it down into two parts: the weeks before and after the bye. This season, however, the Patriots have an early Week 6 bye.
To start, the first five weeks of the season include the Patriots traveling every other week. The first part of the season features the Pats playing against the Dolphins, Seahawks, and then three consecutive games against three teams from the AFC West: Broncos, Raiders, and Chiefs.
The first two games against the Dolphins and Seahawks (away) are going to be challenging right out of the gate for New England. Despite not being familiar with some of the new acquired talent, Bill Belichick and the Patriots are familiar with the coaching styles of Brian Flores and Pete Carroll.
The next three weeks is what’s going to be a big stretch of games for the Patriots. While New England hasn’t played against the Raiders or the Broncos since 2017, they also face the defending Super Bowl champion Chiefs in between during a Week 4 trip to Kansas City.
It’s worth mentioning that the Raiders and Broncos have done a great job of trying to keep up with the Chiefs in regards to offensive weaponry and producing points this offseason.
Patriots have an unusually early bye week this season
After the Week 6 bye, the Patriots will play 11 consecutive games — five home, six away — against a handful of playoff teams, including the 49ers, Bills (away), Ravens, and Texans (away).
Luckily, the Patriots have a good idea of how these teams are operated and call their games.
The stretch of games that I believe is going to be most challenging for the Patriots this season is really going to start around Week 10 against the Ravens. The Patriots follow that game up by seeing the Texans (away), Cardinals, Chargers (away), and Rams (away) through Week 14 — all before ending the season playing against their division rivals, the Dolphins (away), Bills, and Jets.
When you start to consider the quarterbacks that New England will be facing in the stretch from Week 10 through the end of the season, it’s both challenging and uncertain.
Obviously Lamar Jackson, Deshaun Watson, and Kyler Murray are the sure starters for their teams and all possess qualities that have made the Patriots struggle over the years. With that said, it’s nothing they haven’t seen before.
The quarterback game to watch out for is going to be in Weeks 13 and 15 against the Chargers and Dolphins, because by this point in the season, both teams could have resorted to their rookie quarterbacks in Tua Tagovailoa (Dolphins) and Justin Herbert (Chargers).
While dealing with the versatile and mobile quarterbacks in this stretch, the Patriots also have three consecutive away games — Chargers, Rams, Dolphins — nearing the middle-end of the season from Weeks 13-15. This last stretch of away games features the Patriots playing two games in three days against the Chargers and Rams.
After the two games in Los Angeles, the Patriots have 10 days off before playing the Dolphins in Miami.
All in all, I believe the toughest stretch of games for the New England Patriots this season is going to be from Weeks 10-13 against Lamar Jackson and the Ravens, Deshaun Watson and the Texans, and Kyler Murray and the Cardinals.