Some initial thoughts on the schedule:
- I’ll preface this by saying the following thoughts are all about teams on paper and before the draft. Things can and will change.
- Overall, I think it really lays out really nicely for the Patriots.
- They get the short Thursday night week early in the season (Week 2) when health shouldn’t be an issue.
- Nine days off from final preseason game to opener, then two games in five days, then nine days off before Week 3 at home vs. Buccaneers. Two games against weak, rebuilding opponents in 23 days.
- After Week 2, Patriots only play on short rest once, but that is heading into the Broncos at home in the Wes Welker Revenge game.
- Opening and closing against the Bills is nice.
- Patriots don’t face an elite quarterback until Week 4 at the Falcons (Matt Ryan).
- Toughest stretch: Weeks 4-6 with at Atlanta, at Cincinnati, home to the Saints. Next is Denver and at Houston (Weeks 12-13).
- Compare that to the Jets, who have a stretch of at Falcons, vs. Steelers, vs. Patriots, at Bengals, vs. Saints. Ouch.
- Dolphins have a very tough stretch early – at Colts, Falcons, at Saints, Ravens – but rest of the schedule is favorable to a stretch run. If the Dolphins can hold their own early in the season, they could be in it until the end. Beginning will tell the tale for them – while they’re getting a lot of new players acclimated. Dolphins would probably prefer the harder games later with all the new faces.
- If the Dolphins are still in it, Weeks 15 and 16 at Miami (Patriots) and at Baltimore could be interesting.
- Patriots get their bye week in Week 10.
- Outside of Cincinnati, Patriots don’t face any AFC heavyweights until Pittsburgh on Nov. 3. A lot of time for a guy like Rob Gronkowski (forearm) to get healthy for pivotal conference games.
- Just for kicks: predicting 12-4 with losses at Falcons, Saints (new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan knows how to slow Tom Brady a bit; New Orleans offense a schematic mismatch vs. Patriots), Broncos (they win it for Welker and Jack Del Rio gets a clue) and at Dolphins.