By Sterling Pingree
New England Patriots 2018 schedule (Home games in bold)
9/9 vs. Houston 1pm
9/16 @ Jacksonville 4:25pm
9/23 @ Detroit 8:20pm
9/30 vs Miami 1pm
10/4(Thur) vs. Indianapolis 8:20pm
10/14 vs Kansas City 8:20pm
10/21 @ Chicago 1pm
10/29(Mon) @ Buffalo 8:15pm
11/4 vs Green Bay 8:20pm
11/11 @ Tennessee 1pm
Week 11 Bye Week
11/25 @ New York Jets 1pm
12/2 vs. Minnesota 4/25pm
12/9 @ Miami 1pm
12/16 @ Pittsburgh 4:25pm
12/23 vs. Buffalo 1pm
12/30 vs New York Jets 1pm
– The Patriots have five prime time games and this year they have them all in the first nine weeks of the season. What strikes me when looking at these match ups, is that almost all of them seem fresh. The Patriots have played KC in prime time several times in the last few years, but Green Bay, Detroit and Buffalo are national games that we typically don’t see. The Packers game on 11/4 is going to be one of the toughest tickets to get and most highly anticipated Patriots home games vs the NFC since the last time Dallas came to Foxborough. It’s strange to say, but the toughest game of this lot might be 10/29 at Buffalo. The Bills don’t host a lot of prime time games in Orchard Park, (there might be good reason for this, flaming tables anyone?) and you know this crowd is going to be one of the rowdiest in sports. Along with the Steelers on 12/16, this is the Patriots toughest road game.
– The toughest stretch of the season looks like October 4th to November 4th. In 30 days the Patriots will play five games, only two of them are on the road, but four of them will be played in prime time. The true test for this team will come before the bye week as they play at Buffalo on Monday Night Football, then host the Packers on Sunday Night Football and then travel to Tennessee in Week 10 to take on the Titans.
– Week 11 bye weeks are good and the Patriots have lucked out with the placement of their bye week the last couple of seasons.
- How dominant have the Patriots been in the AFC East? You can tell by the way the league schedules the Patriots inter-divisional games. Last year they finished with Buffalo and New York at home and they do it again this year. As an added bonus, the Patriots play three of their final four games against AFC East opponents. The thinking being, maybe the Patriots won’t clinch the division before Thanksgiving if they only play half of their divisional games, and only one of them at home, before week 14.
- 4:25pm games rule! The Patriots have three of them this year, week 2 at Jacksonville, week 13 at home vs Minnesota and week 15 on the road at Pittsburgh. Those are arguably the Patriots three toughest games all season and weirdly enough, of that group, Pittsburgh is the only one that failed to make a conference championship game last season. 4:25pm is the best time for big games, you get the under card of all the 1pm games to watch before and you can still order another pizza when it’s over before Sunday Night Football starts. The 4:25pm games are generally the best game of the week, ESPN has to be furious that their Monday Night schedule never stacks up with “the late games”. Although this year’s Monday Night Football schedule is kind of funky, a lot of decent games on paper between teams that it feels like we won’t see much on national television.
The NFL Draft is this week and I’ll have more Patriots coverage as the week goes on. I may make the futile effort of trying to predict who the Patriots will draft. I’m still feeling good after predicting New England would draft Cyrus Jones in 2016, not that it has worked out well for anyone.
Sterling Pingree is a co-host on 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.