The Patriots’ 2017 season has been revealed/leaked early in all its glory, setting up the campaign that stands between them and winning three of four Super Bowls, twice.
The Pats will play their usual slate of divisional games, while facing the NFC South and AFC West, while also matching up with the first-place teams from the AFC North and the AFC South. I know there’s always plenty of huffing and puffing about how easy the Patriots schedule can be, but it’s all set up on a rotating basis and really engineered to give the best teams the hardest competition.
The 2017 slate has a light start and a light finish, but there’s a tough road stretch in the middle, all against AFC contenders.
First things that jump out:
— Patriots have five national TV games, including the Thursday kickoff opener, their Thursday Night Football game in early October, Sunday Night Football matchups against the Falcons and Broncos, and a Monday Night Football one against the Dolphins.
— They have five-out-of-six on the road in late November/early December — at Denver, at Oakland, vs. Miami, at Buffalo, at Miami (MNF), then at Pittsburgh. That stretch will be the defining one of the regular season, especially the game in Pittsburgh. They ease in and out of the season, but those six games are the heart of the schedule against their toughest opponents in the conference.
— Three of the first five opponents are in the NFC. That will really allow them some flexibility at the start of the season. A loss in one of those wouldn’t hurt that much in the standings. Flip side is that it’s all AFC opponents from Week 7 on, making the stretch run even more vital. Still, closing with home games against the Bills and Jets isn’t exactly daunting.
— Their first AFC East game doesn’t come until Week 6, which seems incredibly late. Five of the last six are in the division. The NFL seems like they want to keep the door open on the division title as long as possible here.
— The Bye Week comes in Week 9 which is ideal, right in the middle of the season.
— There are 10 games that start at 1pm.
Let’s dive into the game-by-game analysis!