By Sterling Pingree
I must say, that I am enjoying the Patriots early season schedule. I know what you’re probably thinking: “Sterling’s a giant homer and he’s gloating that the Patriots are 2-1 and playing at home this weekend.” I can assure you that this is not the case. For a new segment on The Drive this fall, we created the NFL Forecast, where I preview the best games of the weekend, but also predicting what games will be shown in this area at 1:00pm and 4:25pm. It’s become a fun little game each week to see which game we are either going to get saddled with (like the Jets vs Bills in Week 1) or get the pleasure of viewing (like Seahawks vs Packers in Week 1).
Each week when I’ve looked at what the most compelling match ups are, the Patriots are a perfect 3 for 3.
The Chiefs were a playoff team last year and at 3-0 thus far, look like they might be among the elite in the NFL this season. (At least that’s what Mike DeVito has assured me, however this time I might believe him.) The Saints are a very flawed team, but any time you can match up Tom Brady and Drew Brees, no matter what other games are on the slate, that’s an all-time pairing. What about last Sunday’s barn burner with the suddenly frisky Houston Texans? A defense loaded with studs like JJ Watt, Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus, while adding the wild card young quarterback in Deshaun Watson and that’s a great game.
It was pointed out to me after the fact, that this edition of Patriots/Texans was a matchup between the reigning Super Bowl winning quarterback and the reigning National Championship winning quarterback. I was curious if this had ever happened before, a deep dive into history and profootballreference.com, proved that it has in fact only happened one time before. In 2011, Cam Newton and Aaron Rodgers squared off in week 2, with the Packers winning on the road, 30-23. (For the record, Brian Griese, who won a share of the 1997 National Championship at Michigan withTom Brady was his back up none the less, was drafted by the defending Super Bowl champion Broncos with John Elway and then won a Super Bowl as Elway’s back up in 1998. I went deep into the rabbit hole on this one.)
What is adding to the appeal of the schedule thus far is that the Patriots are in the middle of playing 3 straight 1pm games. When has that ever happened? As Patriots fans, we deal with a much greater variance it seems than other teams when it comes to the schedule of games. That is mostly to do with the great success of the franchise and the appeal that their games have with the networks. It’s the cost of being the boss if you will. I’m constantly being asked by people when the Pats play each week, because it varies so much, which has made me appreciate the seeming regularity that at 1pm on Sunday, the Patriots are taking the field.
The 1pm games are great, and to add some spice to your life, they’re being sandwiched with Thursday nighters. The Patriots opened with a disappointing effort against Kansas City, I was there and the fourth quarter was awful to witness. BUT, the rest of the day was perhaps the most fun I’ve ever had at a Patriots game. Next week, the Patriots travel to Tampa Bay to take on the Bucs for their regular Thursday night football turn, color rush uniforms and all. As much as many complain about TNF, and the games are generally horrid, I always kind of look forward to the Patriots mid-week clash each year. It breaks up the schedule and always comes as a bit of a surprise. It’s like when I was a kid and got a birthday present at Thanksgiving (my birthday’s December 6th), it was always unexpected and also happened on a Thursday.
Although with the Thursday game, comes the inevitable disappointment of a Sunday without a Pats game to look forward to. (Which is like when the office orders sandwiches and your’s doesn’t make it into the bag. I’ve got real world analogies for everything.) That’s generally a rough Sunday, but this year that Sunday is on a three-day weekend! Go ahead, go apple picking or get stuck in a corn maze or pumpkin spice up your marriage going flannel shopping or punkin chunkin’ or whatever people do who revel in autumn like football-less catalog models. Because the following Sunday, the New England Patriots play at 1pm again, which is always nice.
Sterling Pingree (@SterlingPingree on Twitter) is a co-host of The Drive, weekdays 4pm to 6pm on 92.9fm The Ticket and streaming live at DriveShowMaine.com. Follow us on Twitter, @DriveShowMaine and “Like Us” on Facebook, Drive Show Maine.