New England Patriots Schedule Breakdown: Ranking Every Game By Difficulty

Patriots Schedule Breakdown
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The New England Patriots schedule is officially here, which means it’s time for a schedule breakdown. We already knew who the Patriots would play in 2021, but now, thanks to leaks around the web, we know the dates and times of each matchup. The Patriots were perhaps the most aggressive team this past offseason, but will it be enough to get back in the playoffs?

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New England Patriots Schedule Breakdown

  1. vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Week 4)

Seeing Tom Brady defending his title in Foxboro is not an unfamiliar sight for Patriots fans. However, this time, he’ll be on the other sideline. After a relatively lackluster 2019, Brady proved that he still has plenty in the tank during his first year in the NFC. Of course, Brady isn’t alone, as Tampa Bay has arguably the best top-to-bottom roster in the entire NFL. This is easily the most anticipated game of the season, and the Patriots will need to bring their A-game to come out on top in this one.

  1. at Buffalo Bills (Week 13)

Playing the Buffalo Bills is not easy. Playing the Buffalo Bills in Buffalo to cap off a stretch of 13 consecutive games is borderline unfair. Even if Josh Allen comes back to Earth after an MVP-caliber season, Buffalo is still going to be a force to be reckoned with. Chances are, the Patriots are going to be beaten and worn down when they have to face off against one of the best teams in football.

  1. vs. Cleveland Browns (Week 10)

This could be something of a hot take putting Cleveland this high, but I truly believe in the talent on this roster. The Browns have a great offensive line, difference-makers at every single level of the defense, and a promising young quarterback in Baker Mayfield. If Mayfield picks up where he left off late in 2021, then Cleveland should be a legitimate Super Bowl contender.

  1. vs. Buffalo Bills (Week 16)

We’ve already established the Bills are a good team, but the Patriots should stand a better chance of victory in their second matchup of the season. For one, they’re at home, and that’s always preferable to playing on the road. On top of that, New England should be pretty well-rested, as they’ll only be two weeks removed from a bye week. The Patriots will still probably be underdogs in this game, but they’ll stand a much better shot of pulling off the upset.

  1. at Los Angeles Chargers (Week 8)

The Patriots absolutely crushed the Chargers in their 2020 matchup, but Los Angeles should have higher odds in 2021. Justin Herbert has a year of experience under his belt, which means he should be even better than he was in his impressive rookie season. Additionally, Los Angeles was one of the most injured teams in the league last year, and having several key defensive stars return to the field should make life a lot harder for the offense.

  1. vs. Dallas Cowboys (Week 6)

Because this matchup occurs on October 17th, it’s safe to assume that Dak Prescott will be back and playing like his old self. That is not good news for New England, as Prescott is one of the better quarterbacks in the league, especially with this supporting cast. The Cowboys did everything in their power to address the defense and should be one of the NFL’s better teams if the unit can perform at even a league-average level.

  1. at Miami Dolphins (Week 18)

New England traveling to Miami is always a recipe for disaster. While the Patriots won’t have to travel during the heat of early fall, they still have to face a Miami roster with plenty of talent and a major question at quarterback. If Tua Tagovailoa can put his underwhelming rookie season behind him, then this game will skyrocket up the Patriots schedule breakdown. However, if he still plays like a below-average passer, then New England should have a pretty good shot of finishing their season with a win.

  1. vs. Indianapolis Colts (Week 15)

Once again, the actual difficulty of this matchup will depend on which version of the starting quarterback shows up in 2021. The Indianapolis Colts have a very solid roster with no real weakness at any one position, except for possibly quarterback. Carson Wentz was an absolute disaster last year, and the Colts are banking on the former Eagle playing like his 2017-2019 self in an improved environment.

  1. vs. New Orleans Saints (Week 3)

After going all-in on the final years of the Drew Brees Era, the bill finally came due for the New Orleans Saints. The team moved on from several key players, and they also have to deal with a new quarterback. Jameis Winston is simultaneously the best and worst passer in the league, capable of making some of the best and worst throws you’ll ever see on a snap-for-snap basis. This matchup could go either way, depending on which version of Winston shows up.

  1. vs. Miami Dolphins (Week 1)

It’s déjà vu for the Patriots, as they kick off their season with a home game against Miami for a second straight season. The Dolphins have plenty of familiarity with the Patriots, and the early matchup means that the warm-weather team probably won’t have to deal with sub-freezing temperatures. That said, this is still a matchup the Patriots should win, as Bill Belichick has a fantastic record in Week 1.

  1. vs. Tennessee Titans (Week 12)

The Tennessee Titans missed their window. After boasting one of the best all-around rosters in football over the past two years, the Titans lost several key players and didn’t bring in enough new faces to offset the losses. Corey Davis and Jonnu Smith are gone with no adequate replacements, as are Malcolm Butler, Adoree Jackson, and Jadeveon Clowney. The Titans probably won’t be very good next year, and the Patriots should be able to capitalize on this team in transition.

  1. vs. Atlanta Falcons (Week 11)

The New England Patriots are playing the Atlanta Falcons on national television – what could go wrong? While this matchup will certainly be less exciting than the 28-3 classic, it should have a similar end result. Kyle Pitts is great, but Matt Ryan is slowing down and the defense is still a mess. If Julio Jones is traded, this matchup might just be the second-easiest game on the docket.

  1. at Carolina Panthers (Week 9)

This the part of the Patriots schedule breakdown where life starts to get a little easier. Sam Darnold might be out of New York, but he still cannot escape the ghosts of New England. The former Jet was one of the worst quarterbacks in the league over the past three years, and I don’t think a change of scenery is going to fix that. There are some interesting weapons here, and this young defense could improve with another year of seasoning. That said, this team is still a year or two away, and Darnold is not the answer this organization needs.

  1. at New York Jets (Week 2)

Barring something completely unforeseen, Zach Wilson is going to make the second start of his professional career against a reloaded Bill Belichick defense. Good luck, kid. This matchup alone almost ensures New England’s victory before even accounting for the rest of the roster. New York did a fine job upgrading what might just be the worst roster in football, but this team is so flawed that nobody could completely fix this in just one offseason.

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  1. vs. New York Jets (Week 7)

Life doesn’t get any easier for Zach Wilson, as the quarterback has to make his second start against New England in Week 7. Even though he will have a little more experience under his belt, playing in Foxboro will make this matchup a little easier.

  1. vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (Week 17)

Trevor Lawrence is great. Everyone else on this team is not. The Jacksonville Jaguars entered the offseason needing to improve just about every position on the roster, and they didn’t do that great of a job in free agency or the draft. They didn’t add too many free agents and blew one of their first-round picks on a running back. Additionally, Urban Meyer crashed and burned during his first stint in the NFL, and it’s hard to see that changing this time around.

  1. at Houston Texans (Week 5)

Last, and most certainly least, is the Houston Texans. Even with Deshaun Watson, Houston boasts one of the worst rosters in the league with a complete lack of talent at every part of the roster. With Watson presumably having played his last snap in Houston, the task of winning this matchup becomes even less of a hurdle. There is no such thing as an easy win in the NFL, but this is the closest thing in the Patriots schedule breakdown to an easy win.

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