The New England Patriots have been dominant in the AFC East for over a decade. Ever Since Tom Brady and Bill Belichick combined forces, the Patriots have been a force to be reckoned with in the NFL. After reaching the AFC championship for the eighth time in the Brady-Belichick era last year, the Patriots will be looking to add to their run of sustained excellence in 2014.
The Patriots regular season strength of schedule for 2014 is tenth in the league, and their opponents combine for a .516 win percentage from the 2013 season. New England will face off against the Washington Redskins, Philadelphia Eagles, Carolina Panthers and New York Giants during to the preseason.
On to the stuff that really matters, the biggest games to watch out for during the Patriots regular season. The Patriots will face off against six playoff teams from 2013 throughout their regular season, but some of their biggest games may come against non-playoff teams.
October 16, Week 7 vs New York Jets
It was only a few years ago when Mark Sanchez led the Jets to back-to-back AFC title games. While the Jets have released Mark Sanchez and fallen off the past few seasons, they made some noise during the off-season this year and perhaps now they have enough pieces to rival the Patriots in the AFC East.
Week 7 will be these two teams’ first meeting of the season and it will be interesting to see if the acquisitions of Michael Vick and Chris Johnson will allow the Jets offense to not only keep up with the Patriots offense, but maybe even beat them.
November 2, Week 9 vs Denver Broncos
Does this one really need explaining? Not only is this a rematch of last season’s AFC championship game, but it is Tom Brady vs Peyton Manning. Who in their right mind does not want to see another installment of the war of 1812. While Brady leads the all-time head-to-head 10-5, it was Peyton and the Broncos who got the best of the Patriots last year in the AFC title game and advanced to the Super Bowl.
These two future Hall-of-Famers may be buddies off the field, but when they suit up for their sixteenth career head-to-head meeting during week 9, it will be all business.
November 16, Week 11 at Indianapolis Colts
While everyone enjoyed and continues to enjoy the historic match ups between Manning and Brady, there will not be too many of those games left. Both Manning and Brady are near the end of their careers and the new stud quarterback on the block is Andrew Luck.
The Colts-Patriots match up in week 11 will be a classic tale of the old veteran vs the young hot-shot. It was the Patriots that knocked the Colts out of the playoffs last year in the divisional round, so expect Luck and the Colts to be looking for redemption.
November 30, Week 13 at Green Bay Packers
This one is pretty simple, two of the best quarterbacks in the league meeting at one of the most historic stadiums in NFL history. There is not really much more that needs to be said about this one.
The Patriots have been a lock for the AFC playoffs over the last decade, and they will be looking to keep that streak alive this year. With match-ups against division rivals and career rivals, there will be no shortage of excitement surrounding the New England Patriots this NFL season.
Commentary By Eric Kummel