We are that much closer to the Patriot season. OTA’s started this week. The schedule was released earlier this month. You can almost smell the buffalo chicken dip that is consumed religiously every Sunday during football season.
The Patriots made major moves this offseason and will be looking to get back on track. Last year was the first time in 20 years New England finished below .500.
The Patriots have the 19th toughest schedule this season according to strength of schedule. That is of course based on their opponents’ records from last year.
Regardless of how tough the schedule is mathematically speaking, there are some GOOD games. Scratch that. There are some GREAT games on the Pats’ schedule.
Here are my Top 5 most anticipated games for the season.
5. Week 18 at Dolphins
The Patriots-Dolphins matchups always turn out to be exciting. For the last decade, these meetings towards the end of the season have produced some memorable moments.
In Brady’s final season in 2019, a Week 17 loss to the Dolphins cost New England a bye in the playoffs. This ultimately led to a poor matchup with the Titans that ended in defeat.
There is also the “Miami Miracle”, which I’d rather not talk about. Still hurts to this day.
Whatever way you spin it, this matchup almost always matters in a big way. This season, both the Dolphins and Patriots are poised to contend for the postseason.
The AFC field is tough, so both teams probably won’t make it. This game could very well be the deciding factor in that heated playoff race.
We could also see a the last two starting quarterbacks for the most prestigious program in college football. Alabama alumni Tua Tagovailoa and Mac Jones going head-to-head. This of course all depends on Cam Newton.
Side note, I will actually be attending this game in Miami. My excitement level is through the roof.
4. Week 13 at Bills
Last season was the first time in twenty years that this rivalry was actually interesting. Sorry to the Bills’ fan. I’m not trying to take a shot at Bills’ Mafia, but the Patriots did own you for the better part of twenty years.
Buffalo won their first AFC East title since 1995 in 2020. They made their first AFC Championship Game appearance since 1993. It’s safe to say the Bills are back in a big way.
Buffalo is looking to build on that great 2020 season this year. They have a pretty good chance of doing just that. That’s what makes this late season matchup with the Patriots so exciting.
New England and Buffalo should both be in the middle of a heated AFC East race. This game could have major playoff implications. It could also very well decide the champion of the AFC East for 2021.
Regardless, it should be a fantastic game. The Bills swept the season series last year, but this year’s Patriots should make it interesting.
3. Week 6 vs Cowboys
This game doesn’t have the playoff implications that the previous two entries will probably have. I would say the Dolphins and Bills are both better teams than the Cowboys right now.
There is just something about the Patriots playing the Cowboys that is cool. Maybe because we usually only get it once every four years? When I heard the 17th game would be against Dallas, I did a solid fist pump.
These are the two most valuable franchises in the NFL, per Forbes. A total of 11 Super Bowl titles between the two of them. Two of the greatest dynasties the game has ever seen. Seeing them matchup is just legendary (at least, that’s what it feels like).
Besides the history, the game itself should be good too. The Cowboys have one of the scariest offenses in the NFL. Seeing them pitted against Belichick’s defense should be Grade A entertainment.
I was born in 1998, so I never witnessed the Cowboys 20th century dominance live. Still, the team continues to carry that mystique with them. Even when they haven’t been great, it’s still THE Cowboys.
2. Week 10 vs Browns
The Cleveland Browns have it pretty much all figured out. They needed a defensive overhaul. They got it. With that, they now have arguably the most talented team in the AFC.
Last season, Cleveland looked like a real threat. I expect them to be even more dangerous this season. I have questions about Baker Mayfield, but the team around him is rock solid.
This game screams prime time to me. It could very well have playoff implications attached to it. Browns-Patriots is not usually a matchup you expect to be great. This year however, it’s going to be a battle to remember.
There is some history between Belichick and the Browns here also. However it’s more about the talent these two teams have than the history. Two of the best rosters in football going toe-to-toe. What could be better?
1. Week 4 vs Buccaneers
Oh yeah, THIS could be better. Scratch that, it WILL be better. Was there really any doubt this would be number one?
I can and will eventually write an article just on this matchup. It’s not just the most anticipated game of the season overall. It’s one of the most anticipated games in recent NFL history.
I really don’t know what other regular season game had this kind of hype. Peyton Manning’s return to Indianapolis had some allure, sure. Not like this though.
The storylines, the drama, this is the peak of sports entertainment. Not only will it be a good game in general, but the spectacle of the game is on another level .
Tom Brady, the G.O.A.T., who won 6 Super Bowls in 20 years with the Patriots. He’s coming back to Foxborough, along with an old friend in Gronk.
Gronk’s return is a big deal too, but let’s face it. This is pretty much all about Brady. This is not like when Manning left Indy. That didn’t end well either, but Brady’s exit was much more dramatic. There is some serious beef between Brady and Bill.
Like I said, I need a whole separate article to dive into what makes this showdown special. All you need to know for now? This is a game you absolutely can’t miss.
Photo by Aaron M. Sprecher via AP
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