I get it, we’re in the middle of a pandemic. But you know what? I’m still going to talk about sports! There’s no baseball. Hockey and football are on pause and desperately trying to somehow have postseasons. So that brings my full attention to football. Obviously, I’m going to bring the Patriots to the forefront of discussion. The Patriots have a very tough 2020 schedule. There’s no denying that. But, which games will be the toughest for the Patriots in the first season of the post-Tom Brady era? Let’s discuss from five to one.
Number 5: @ Buffalo Bills
The Buffalo Bills are getting better before our very eyes. They’re serious about overthrowing the Patriots. They went out and traded for Stefon Diggs to give Josh Allen a very good weapon. The defense was a top 10 defense in the league. There’s a lot to fear with this Bills team. Right now, they might be the favorite to win the AFC East on paper. We all know how the Patriots struggle with mobile quarterbacks. Also, Josh Allen made some really nice throws in New England in week 16 of the 2019 season. I’m not taking the Bills lightly and you shouldn’t be either. The Bills can be a legitimate threat to the division in 2020.
Number 4: vs. San Francisco 49ers
Jimmy Garoppolo comes back to where it all began. He finally gets his chance to stick it to Robert Kraft and Bill Belichick. This might be hard for Belichick to coach, as we all know he wanted Jimmy to be the future franchise quarterback of the Patriots. Oh, and San Francisco was just in the Super Bowl! This team is legitimate. They’re another team with a solid defense and good offensive weapons in Deebo Samuel, George Kittle, Raheem Mostert, and others. The only glimmer of hope is that Kyle Shanahan is the head coach. The comeback in Super Bowl LI, guess who was the Falcons offensive coordinator? Kyle Shanahan! When the 49ers blew a 10 point lead, who was the head coach? Kyle Shanahan! Maybe, Shanahan will make a bone-head decision to cost him the game against the Patriots. Talent wise, the 49ers are as good of a team as the Patriots will see in 2020.
Number 3: vs. Baltimore Ravens
This will be the season that we find out how legit the Baltimore Ravens truly are in the AFC. They were 14-2, the number one seed in the AFC, and they still choked in the divisional round against the Titans. It all starts and ends with the reigning 2019 MVP, Lamar Jackson. We know how elusive Jackson can be when he escapes the pocket. The question will be whether or not Belichick has a scheme in place for Jackson. Will the Ravens be a one year wonder, similar to the 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers? Can they continue that success for seasons to come? Time will tell. But next season, Baltimore coming to New England will be a very tough game. And guess what people? The Ravens aren’t scared of Gillette Stadium!
Number 2: @ Seattle Seahawks
Going to Seattle is always a tough place to play. It’s loud and that place knows how to really be the “12th man”. Russell Wilson still leads the attack for the Seahawks and we all know how special he can be any given week. There was a time in 2019 when he was being compared to Jackson for MVP votes. He has good receivers to throw to with D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. The defense has been good for quite some time now. This will without a doubt be the second hardest game the Patriots play in 2020. Hopefully, Jarrett Stidham will have the experiences from the SEC to look back upon so he can deal with a rowdy crowd like Seattle. If not, it could be a long game for the second year QB out of Auburn.
Number 1: @ Kansas City Chiefs
The hardest game by far for the Patriots will be the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead. You want to know what the Patriots will be dealing with? Take a look at this:
The Chiefs offense will now return:
▫️10 of 11 Super Bowl starters
▫️5 of its top 6 leading rushers
▫️8 of its top 9 leading receivers
▫️6 of its top 7 OL in terms of snaps played last year
▫️OC Eric Bienemy
▫️Led by Andy Reid, Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) April 3, 2020
This was AFTER they re-signed WR Sammy Watkins. Yeah, good luck to the Patriots and the rest of the NFL with this team. The Chiefs have all the pieces in place to be the next great NFL dynasty. They have the young superstar quarterback, a top three tight end, one of the fastest wide receivers in the NFL, and a head coach that finally won the big one. Put all of those in place and you have something special. The Patriots should have lost in the AFC championship in their last Super Bowl season, had it not been for a Dee Ford offside penalty that gave them a second chance. This is the game where basically everything needs to be perfect. No turnovers, no bad play-calling, everything has to be nearly perfect. Otherwise, we could see a rout in Kansas City. Also remember this will be the first time that the Patriots visit Arrowhead since that AFC championship game. Everyone involved in Kansas City will be wanting some payback.
This might be the hardest schedule the Patriots have had in quite some time. This list also leaves off both L.A. teams on the road, Buffalo at home, Miami (because crazy things happen against Miami!), and Arizona. The Patriots have a lot to prove in 2020. Those five games are tough enough as it is. So buckle up Pats nation, assuming everything starts on time; we’re in for an eventful 2020 seasons.
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-Al Nahigian (@BigAl2793)