By Sterling Pingree
- Starting with the opener, I think the NFL got this one right. Even though it feels so familiar, seeing as though the Patriots have hung two previous Super Bowl banners in front of the Steelers. This year it feels appropriate to pit (no pun intended) the only two teams to win six Super Bowls in the opening game of the league’s 100th Winner take all.
- Odd to see that after the opener vs Pittsburgh that the Patriots will cross off half of their divisional games over the next three weeks. Last season the Patriots played just one divisional game in the first seven weeks and two in the first 10. Two schools of thought, the Patriots have struggled the last few years in September and if that continues this year, namely at Miami week 2 and at Buffalo week 4 it could tighten up the AFC east. OR, the seemingly easy AFC east schedule could get the Patriots off to a winning September and take any drama left out of the divisional race.
- Week 11 is almost a perfect bye week.
- 4:25pm games, as far as the eye can see. ¼ of the Patriots schedule will be played at 4:25pm this season and they’re all entertaining matchups. Week 8 vs Cleveland, week 11 at Philadelphia, week 12 vs Dallas and week 14 vs Kansas City. Jim Nantz recently said on Rich Eisen’s show that the 4:25pm games are the ones that always garner the biggest ratings, not Sunday or Monday night football like most believe. There’s always more competition between CBS and Fox for the Sunday afternoon national doubleheader game.
- NFC East is always fun. The last time the Patriots played their eastern counterpart, the Patriots went 3-1, defeating the Redskins at home, the Cowboys in Dallas and the Giants in a classic at MetLIfe. The only blip was an inexplicable loss in Foxborough to the Chip Kelly/Sam Bradford Eagles. (Repeat that………what?!?!?!) How much has changed for these teams since we last saw them in 2015? Here are the quarterback and head coach combos for the 4 NFC East teams the last time they played the Patriots.
Dallas: Tony Romo and Jason Garrett
New York: Eli Manning and Tom Coughlin
Philadelphia: Sam Bradford and Chip Kelly
Washington: Kirk Cousins and Jay Gruden
- Toughest game on the schedule: Week 14 vs Kansas City. The last 3 games these two teams have played are certified classics. (I guess aside from the red wedding on week 1 in 2017.) A lot of this is predicated on what happens with Tyreek Hill. Though Kansas City’s defense was horrid last year and might be worse this year after losing Dee Ford, Justin Houston and Eric Berry.
- Easiest game on the schedule: Week 17 vs Miami. There’s no tanking in the NFL, but the Dolphins absolutely have eyes on Alabama’s QB Tua Tagovailoa in next year’s draft. They’ve signed Ryan Fitzpatrick to be the starter but by December 29th, Fitz-magic will have ended and Miami will be, um, probably not necessarily trying to win football games.
- Most perplexing game: Week 16 vs Buffalo. This game is listed on all schedules as Saturday, December 21st or Sunday December 22nd. I for one would love to see a Saturday game, feels like it’s been a while since New England has hosted a non-playoff Saturday game.
- You can’t make predictions on records before the NFL Draft (that should be a law) but there are a lot of intriguing games on the 2019 slate.
Sterling Pingree (@SterlingPingree on Twitter) 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.