FOXBORO – Let’s face it, though we now know the Patriots schedule, and which order they’re going to play every opponent, it doesn’t change the outlook all that a lot.
Whether they begin with the Philadelphia Eagles on Tom Brady night time, and shut out the common season with the New York Jets, the diploma of issue hasn’t modified.
The schedule, which incorporates a minimum of 4 primetime video games, stays a doozy.
It was going to be powerful irrespective of which manner the video games wound up falling. The order is one factor. But the star energy beneath heart is one other with two-time Super Bowl winner Patrick Mahomes, Philadelphia’s budding star Jalen Hurts, and New York’s Aaron Rodgers included within the combine.
Case in level, even sporting a high 10 protection, the Patriots have struggled in opposition to the elite quarterbacks in recent times. By extension, they haven’t fared significantly properly in opposition to the NFL’s high-powered offenses.
In 2023, they should face a boatload of the NFL’s high QBs, together with lots of the finest offenses. That’s a stark distinction to final yr, the place they took benefit of backups and or inexperienced quarterbacks. And nonetheless didn’t make the playoffs.
This yr, they’re dealing with the iron.
Along with Mahomes, Hurts and Rodgers, Buffalo’s Josh Allen, LA’s Justin Herbert and Dallas’ Dak Prescott are additionally a part of the Murderer’s Row of quarterbacks on the schedule.
And, relying on how a lot magic Denver Broncos coach Sean Payton can wield, so is former Super Bowl winner Russell Wilson.
Add in Miami’s Tua Tagovailoa, who hasn’t misplaced in opposition to the Patriots as a starter, going 4-0, and new Vegas’ starter Jimmy Garoppolo, who can also be unbeaten in opposition to Bill Belichick. Needless to say, the Patriots are going to be up in opposition to it.
Just decide your poison from week to week. All instructed, the Patriots should face seven of the highest 12-rated quarterbacks from final season.
We’ll see how Mac Jones & Co. fare in these duels. And we’ll see if the protection fares higher making an attempt to neutralize Miami’s Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, Buffalo’s Stefon Diggs and Gabe Davis, Las Vegas’ Davante Adams, Hunter Renfrow and Jakobi Meyers.
Looking particularly on the last 4 video games, probably make-or-break video games with regards to squeezing into the playoffs, the Patriots will in all probability have to take down Mahomes in Foxboro on a Monday night time, Wilson within the altitude out in Colorado on Christmas Eve, and Allen on New Year’s weekend in Buffalo, earlier than closing with Rodgers at house.
Going 2-2 in that stretch looks like a miracle. For that matter, the opening 4 video games aren’t any picnic, both, with Philadelphia, Miami, the Jets and Dallas proper out of the gate.
But, as Belichick is fond of claiming, “It is what it is.”
For their half, the Patriots gamers don’t appear to thoughts the problem forward. They additionally appear to relish being forecast to complete lifeless final within the AFC East, prompted by Rodgers arrival in New York.
“Hands down, it’s going to be a hell of an opportunity for us to go against him twice a year,” linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley mentioned final week. “But if you ask us, we’re excited about the opportunity. We have no choice but to be excited about it.”
Defensive lineman Davon Godchaux echoed these phrases Thursday previous to the schedule being introduced.
“Competition brings out the best in everybody. The Jets are a better team because they’ve got Aaron Rodgers,” Godchaux mentioned. “No one is going to say that the Jets are not a better team because they picked up A-Rod. He’s a Hall-of-Famer. His resume speaks for itself. It’s going to be very exciting to see him twice a year. Can’t wait.”
Save for Devin McCourty, Belichick just about introduced the band again on protection, re-signing a lot of the linebacking corps, together with cornerback Jonathan Jones. If that crew, which may see rookie first spherical cornerback Christian Gonzalez begin Week 1 in opposition to the Eagles, can’t hold the rating down in these video games, the Patriots can have bother successful seven video games, a lot much less ten.
Quite merely, the group hasn’t proven a capability to beat groups who rating 25 or extra factors in opposition to them. During the previous three seasons, in actual fact, the group has gone 1-17 in these video games.
Will having Bill O’Brien now working the offense as a substitute of Matt Patricia change that narrative? Or how about including JuJu Smith-Schuster and Mike Gesicki to the receiving corps, whereas subtracting Jones’ top-gun Meyers?
With no offensive risk opposing defenses worry, it’s nonetheless laborious imagining the 8-9 Patriots getting over the hump, even with O’Brien fixing the offense.
As for a porous offensive line, will it enhance beneath new coach Adrian Klemm, though there are nonetheless query marks at sort out?
Belichick has all the time believed he can flip a group of excellent gamers into an important group. He espouses to the notion that teaching generally is a difference-maker.
Looking on the huge image with regards to navigating this torturous schedule, it’s going to be one heck of a chance for Belichick to attempt to show the purpose.
Or sink additional into the abyss.