The 2021 schedules for all 32 National Football League teams have been released. After a disappointing 7-9 season for the Patriots, Bill Belichick had a busy off-season during free agency and the draft. Despite the improvements to New England’s roster, the AFC North and NFC South could prove to be quite the challenge, along with the divisional games against Miami and Buffalo.
Without further ado, here is New England’s most interesting opponent each month.
With the NFL starting September 9th, the Patriots will only play 3 games that month. But the most important game is the first tilt of the season. The Patriots will host the Dolphins at 4:25 September 12th. With Miami finishing with a better record than New England last year, this first divisional game of the season will be a test.
With Tua Tagovailoa no longer shadowed by Ryan Fitzpatrick, this game will show if the young quarterback can handle the Patriots now formidable pass-rush. New England went 3-3 in the division in 2020. They will need a better record this year if they want to return to the playoffs.
Maybe the most anticipated regular season game in Patriots history will take place on October 3rd for Sunday Night Football. Thomas Edward Patrick Brady Jr., fresh off a Super Bowl win in his first season with Tampa Bay, will return to Gillette Stadium as a Buccaneer.
The Brady vs. Belichick drama leading up, during and after the game will be gripping. How will Patriots fans react to the best Boston athlete in history competing against their team? The ratings for this game will dwarf the John Hancock Tower.
Hey Patriots, They are No Longer the Same Old Browns
November 14th, the Cleveland Browns, who won their first playoff game since 1995 this past year, come to Foxborough. With a terrific running game, phenomenal offensive line, and a now efficient Baker Mayfield, the Browns will be battling for back-to-back postseason appearances.
With the Patriots revamped roster primed for the challenge, this should be a competitive, entertaining game. This matchup should be critical in deciding division winners, seeding, and wild-card births for the AFC.
Who will Take the East?
On December 6th, the Patriots get a chance to redeem themselves against the Bills on Monday Night Football. In 2020, Buffalo finally got the better of New England twice after 2 decades of torment. This December, the Patriots face off against the Bills twice.
But, this road game at the start of the month will directly alter New England’s season, for better or worse.
Who Doesn’t Love Miami in the Winter?
Finally, New England finishes off their season down in Miami on January 9th. In the newly realigned NFL schedule, the season will now be 18 weeks with 17 contests. The Patriots will have to go down to the one place they just cannot consistently put up good performances.
Since Bill Belichick took over as New England’s head coach in 2000, the Patriots have lost 12 games down there, including 6 of the last 8 matchups. Not to mention, 8 of those 12 defeats have come in either December or January. This game will almost certainly have important ramifications at stake for both teams.
Nobody said it’d be Easy
This schedule for the Patriot’s comes with the usual key AFC East games that will decide who wins the divisions, grabs the wild-card, and who watches the postseason from their couch. But, this slate comes with a fair share of marquee matchups outside of the Bills, Dolphins, and Jets. New England will have their hands full, which will make for an entertaining season of Patriots football.
Story by Chad Jones
Follow Chad on Twitter @shutupchadjones