The Patriots found out how the Post-Tom Brady era will look on Thursday night with the release of their 2020 schedule. Unfortunately for New England, they have one of the hardest schedules in the league.
Kickoff to the Stidham Era
The Patriots will begin the season with a home game against the Miami Dolphins. These are the same Dolphins that won the last regular season game in Foxboro in December. The Dolphins are coached by former Patriots defensive coordinator Brian Flores and signed Patriots linebackers Kyle Van Noy and Elandon Roberts this offseason, both of whom know the Patriots and Stidham well.
After the opener, the Patriots play two out of three games on the road and both are tough tasks. Week two is a prime time matchup against the Seahawks in one of the toughest stadiums to play in. Two weeks later, New England will be in Kansas City to face the defending champs. It would be no surprise to see the Patriots finish September at 2-2.
Tough Stretch After Early Bye
The Patriots will have their bye week in week six, which is earlier than they are used to. Upon returning from the Bye, the Patriots will have their toughest stretch of the season. Week seven is a home tilt against Jimmy Garoppolo and the defending NFC Champion 49ers. Following that are road games in Buffalo and at the Jets. The Jets game is on a Monday night which is a gut punch considering it will give them one less day to prepare for a Sunday Night Game against the Ravens.
Following what is sure to be a physical game against Baltimore, New England goes on the road to Houston to play yet another 2019 playoff team (they have seven total, including two against Buffalo). After a home game against an ascending Arizona team, New England has back to back games in LA before traveling to Miami. All in all, this stretch and especially how it begins will define their season.
Three Division Games to Close Season
The Patriots close the season with three division games that very well could determine whether or not they make the playoffs. Traveling to the warm Miami weather in week 15 will be a tall order and New England may have to deal with Tua by then. Week 16 is a home game against Buffalo that could set up as the AFC East Championship Game. Week 17 is a winnable home game against the Jets, but the difference this year as opposed to years past is that this may be a must win game to get in the playoffs.
Missing Brady? No Problem
A side effect of the Patriots schedule is that New Englanders who want to watch Tom Brady will be able to regularly in 2020. The Patriots and Bucs do not overlap games until December and Tampa Bay has five prime time games. Despite wearing a different uniform, Brady will get plenty of airtime in Patriots nation.