Here it is, the first look at the 2018 Patriots schedule. This could change drastically if trades or cuts are made on any teams 53 man roster, but for now, let’s take a look ahead to this season’s opponents:
Week 1: Houston Texans
Both the Patriots and Texans will have significant questions going into Week 1. For the Texans, all eyes will be on Deshaun Watson who is coming off an ACL tear in October last year, and people will be focused on if JJ Watt will return to his old form or continue to be a relatively non-factor. On the Patriots side, people will obviously be looking for any regression in Tom Brady or Rob Gronkowski after an interesting offseason situation, but the main focus should be on rookie Isaiah Wynn and the new healthy defense. Can Wynn hold up against one of the best Defensive Lines in football? Can the Patriots defense find an identity with a healthy Hightower and new DC Brian Flores? Overall I think the answers won’t be found in this game. Deshaun will take time to bounce back, JJ Watt likely won’t play a huge role, Brady and Gronk will look like themselves, Wynn will still need to prove himself, and the Patriots defense will need more challenges. Another interesting fold is no Julian Edelman for the first four weeks, so which new receiver will stand out in those weeks? My prediction, Cordarelle Patterson.
Score Prediction: Patriots 27-16 Texans
Week 2: Jacksonville Jaguars
Personally, this is the scariest game of the season for me. The Jaguars were a very tough AFC Championship opponent with their relentless defense and somewhat surprising offense. This is the game that the Patriots defense can really define themselves and make every notice that they are going to be an elite defense this season. Being able to contain Leonard Fournette, TJ Yeldon, and Blake Bortles will be challenging, but with no true passing threat, the defensive line will be worked to its breaking point. From the Patriots offensive perspective, this will be their biggest challenge all season, and Josh McDaniels is going to have to work some magic with all the new additions, but I expect decent results at a minimum. Jeremy Hill and Sony Michele could be the keys for this game on offense, but in the end, I don’t think it will be enough.
Score Prediction: Patriots 17-20 Jaguars
Week 3: Detroit Lions
The Detroit Lions may have the worst luck in the NFL. On paper, they have the potential to make the NFC Championship led by guys like Darius Slay, Matthew Stafford, and Golden Tate, but always fall short. This week is when the Patriots need to go full force on Offense and Defense to let everyone know they are still the top dogs in the league. Expect big games from James White, Rex Burkhead, and Sony Michele as the Patriots will likely try to keep the ball away from Slay and company. The Patriots defense should come away looking better than ever if the defensive line can shut down Blount and Abdullah which will force Stafford to throw into a revamped secondary led by Gilmore and McCourty. Expect to see big things from the Patriots, and a rough game for the Lions.
Score Prediction: Patriots 31-13 Lions
Week 4: Miami Dolphins
Oh Danny, how Patriots Nation misses you. In Danny Amendola’s homecoming, don’t expect him to be wracking up the yards like he could with the Patriots. Right now, we don’t know what Ryan Tannehill will look like or even who will be starting for the Dolphins, just know it likely won’t be pretty for them. With no Jarvis Landry or Jay Ajaia, the Patriots defense can exploit the offensive line and pick apart this team. From the offensive side, the Patriots have nobody standing in their way outside of Cameron Wake. Contain Wake, there is nothing to worry about as long as Brady is on.
Score Prediction: Patriots 38-17 Dolphins
Week 5: Indianapolis Colts
The Colts have never scared me and never will. Nobody knows if Andrew Luck even has a right arm, their defense is non-existent, and outside of Cristine Michael, TY Hilton, and Eric Ebron, nobody on their offense is noteworthy. This is more than likely going to be Brady’s big game. With the return of Julian Edelman from suspension, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Brady throw for 400+ and 4+. The Patriots defense should also be much more refined and in sync at this point so we can really get a feel for how they can truly perform, and if healthy, I really like the look as of now.
Score Prediction: Patriots 34-7 Colts
Week 6: Kansas City Chiefs
Ah yes, here we are, the Chiefs game. The game that had EVERYONE freaking out Week 1 last year. Rookie Kareem Hunt did whatever he wanted to the Patriots defense, Alex “Checkdown” Smith had the game of a lifetime, and the Patriots just looked bad. Since then, the Chiefs have changed quite a bit: no Alex Smith, no Marcus Peters, and a Kareem Hunt that really slowed last season during the second half. It will be interesting to see how Patrick Mahomes can build chemistry with Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, and Kareem Hunt and that will be the difference in this game. If these four mesh and become extremely well-connected, the Patriots could very well be in trouble. One of the most dynamic backs in the game, one of the fastest receivers, one of the most athletic tight ends, and one of the strongest arms in the league. If this happens, it will take everything the Patriots have to contain just these 4 and keep up on offense. This will likely be one of the tougher games this season, but I still think the Patriots can edge it out in the last seconds.
Score Prediction: Patriots 31-28 Chiefs
Week 7: Chicago Bears
I mean, really, how is the league still allowing this to happen? This is essentially a bye week on top of all the AFC East games and actual bye week they get every year. Expect another huge game for both Brady and company along with the defense. There really is nobody on the Bears that poses any threats outside of potentially Roquan Smith who we have no idea how he will play as of now.
Score Prediction: Patriots 45-10 Bears
Week 8: Buffalo Bills
The Bills game is interesting for now since rookie Josh Allen is a bit of a wildcard. The entire season series will be based on if he can lead the offense on a fast enough pace to keep up with Brady who will steamroll the nonexistent defense. If Josh Allen is able to produce alongside Kelvin Benjamin and LeSean McCoy, things could get a little interesting, but nothing to be worrisome for the Patriots.
Score Prediction: Patriots 24-13 Bills
Week 9: Green Bay Packers
It is finally happening again. The Super Bowl matchup we all deserve and want to see more than anything else (other than Brady v Brees) and it could potentially happen this year. There truly is no reason in analyzing anything about this game due to the elite level of play calling and gun slinging that is going to happen. This could end up as the most entertaining game of the year and one of the highest scoring games of the season. This game truly will come down to which QB has the ball in his hands when the clock hits 0:00.0 because they can both go on clutch game-winning drives. In the end, I think the Packers hold onto the ball and Rodgers is able to work his magic once again.
Score Prediction: Patriots 28-35 Packers
Week 10: Tennessee Titans
Another playoff rematch for the Patriots and this one will likely be tougher than last January. Adding Dion Lewis to pair with Derrick Henry and pairing Malcolm Butler and Logan Ryan once again gives this team several insights into the Patriot Way. A good defense mixed with a high octane offense that can hurt teams with the run or pass, this will be another challenge for the Patriots to prove what they are worth. If Marcus Mariota is able to get the offense rolling and Brian Flores can’t find an answer, the Patriots offense’s endurance will be tested for the second week in a row. Ultimately, though, Tom Brady is going to find a way as he always does in the last two minutes and secure an 8th victory going into the bye week.
Score Prediction: Patriots 31-28 Titans
Week 12: New York Jets
Ah, the Jets. It really is comical how bad they are year after year after year of having top picks. Picking Sam Darnold gave them another new QB and another one that likely won’t produce, so there is yet again nothing to worry about for the Patriots.
Score Prediction: Patriots 27-14 Jets
Week 13: Minnesota Vikings
This game is going to be an interesting one adding Kirk Cousins to an already elite offense composed of Stefon Diggs, Dalvin Cook, and Adam Thielen. If Cousins is able to mesh in well, this could be a problem for the Patriots defense who would once again have to stop a diverse RB/QB duo, a respectable TE group, and a dynamic WR corps (similar to the Chiefs game). The Patriots offense will also be tested by an all-around solid defense led by Xavier Rhodes, Harrison Smith, and Anthony Barr. Brady’s targets will be covered well and the run game will be difficult to establish with Danielle Hunter, Everson Griffin, and Sheldon Richardson clogging the line. In the end, it is going to be all about the defense giving Brady a chance to win the ballgame, and without knowing how Dalvin Cook is since he was injured last season, as of now I give the Patriots a slight edge.
Score Prediction: Patriots 24-21 Vikings
Week 14: Miami Dolphins
Another Miami game, but this time its in Miami, and for some reason that always seems to give the Patriots an issue. Last year’s MNF game showed a sloppy Patriots team that didn’t convert on 3rd Down once and gained only one 1st Down in the 1st Half. The Patriots will look to bounce back from that abysmal performance and end with the same result as their first matchup on the year.
Score Prediction: Patriots 31-21 Dolphins
Week 15: Pittsburgh Steelers
There are a lot of questions surrounding the Steelers right now about Leveon Bell. With his agent saying this will be Bell’s last season as a Steeler, would it be wise to move the All-Pro while they can still get value back? Assuming he isn’t moved, the Steelers offense will be as high octane as ever, and cause problems for the Patriots like it always manages too. If Juju Smith-Schuster can replicate his rookie season, this team should no doubt be the favorite to win the Super Bowl on paper. The issue is, it never really turns out that way. Blowing big games against the Patriots year after year has really made me never consider them as a serious threat, even though they should be. They blew a golden opportunity to make it back to the AFCCG after cockily losing to the Jaguars, and with Big Ben consistently regressing and Leveon on the way out, it really is now or never for them. Fortunately, the Patriots always have an answer for the Steelers in the form of Chris Hogan, Julian Edelman, or Rob Gronkowski who always show up in these games. A very good game, but like always, Patriots find a way to win it.
Score Prediction: Patriots 28-24 Steelers
Week 16: Buffalo Bills
Another meeting with the Bills, another dominant victory over a team with no true threats.
Score Prediction: Patriots 38-13 Bills
Week 17: New York Jets
Okay, look, I don’t want this to happen at all, but I have a pretty bad feeling about this game. Something about it, don’t really know what it is, but the Jets are a horrible franchise who play their hearts out against the Patriots every year. With the Patriots already locking up Home Field Advantage and looking to stay healthy, please just stay healthy, going into the playoffs, the Jets could very well steal one from a resting team. Brady and the rest of the starters will likely sit the second half and give the Jets the perfect opportunity for every sports station in America to give the headlines they wanted all season “Is This It For The Patriots?”
Score Predictions: Patriots 17-24 Jets
Final Record: 13-3
Patriots Offensive MVP: Tom Brady (obviously)
Patriots Defensive MVP: Dont’a Hightower
Patriots Rookie of the Year: Duke Dawson
Okay, I feel this one deserves an explanation. I think Isaiah Wynn and Sony Michele are going to be great additions to the offense, but I feel Dawson has the opportunity to make a bigger impact in a far less proven defense. Dawson has the potential to be a great CB2/Slot Corner on a team that needs all the help it can get with pass protection and could prove to be very valuable in the ST game that we all know is valued by the Patriots
Patriots Comeback Player of the Year: Dont’a Hightower
Well, there you have it, you’re way too early Patriots predictions for the season.