There's only a sliver of time that separates Sunday afternoon and Monday night. And yet, in that brief period of time, everything in the football universe can change. A struggling team suddenly emerges as a contender. One of the best players in the league is suddenly lost for the season. One minute, your team is the king of their division, the next, they're plummeting to the depths of despair.
That's why football is America's game. Every game is crucial, every moment is essential, every play is profound. This sport means something special to us. In this game, details matter.
For the New England Patriots, attention to detail is an art form. Bill Belichick is the master of game planning for specific opponents. They prepare the specifications of their attack and counterattack maneuvers for each duel, but some games demand more than just Xs and Os, and those are the games that are the hardest to win.
No game on the 2012 schedule is easy, but some have more emotional resonance than others. The difference between "easiest" and "toughest" can sometimes be summed-up from a physical angle, but it's often best explained from a mental standpoint. Some games test your brain and your will more than others.
That's the purpose of this ranking.
These are the games New England will play in 2012, ranked from easiest to toughest.