When next season's NFL schedule was released a few nights ago, I couldn't help but get giddy...and I smell another perfect season on the horizon!! Now, I know how difficult that may be...in fact it's pretty much impossible...but I'm a Patriots fan, and I'm optimistic!!! I mean, if we could do it against those teams in 2007, 16-0 should be a cakewalk in 2009.
So, let's begin with who we're gonna beat and why:
The Buffalo Bills open as visitors to Gillette Stadium, which shouldn't be any harder than stealing candy from Drew Bledsoe. I don't really need to go into details, but it's been a long time since the Bills have defeated the Pats, and even longer since they've done it in Foxborough.
Buffalo couldn't defeat the Pats with Matt Cassel, so they won't come close to beating them with Tom Brady. Even with the Terrell Owens addition to the offense. The Pats travel to Buffalo in December as well, a little tougher to play on the road but no problems there.
Staying in the division, we see the New York Jets in New Jersey. I know, I'm just as confused as the organization too. Since the Pats will be high off their first win (against the only team that really plays in the state of New York), the Jets shouldn't pose much of an issue.
With Old Man Favre riding off into the sunset, the Jersey Jets aren't solid at QB, the most important position in the game. They may have beat us last year in overtime, but this year the tide returns to New England. A quick 2-0 start. The Jets also fly into Foxborough in November, chalk up another home win.
The Falcons visit in week three, the first real test for New England. A sweet homecoming for Boston College hero Matt Ryan should turn sour, as the rookie was only 4-5 on the road last year, and those road wins were against Oakland, the Favreless Packers, a struggling San Diego squad, and the Vikings.
He may have gone to school in Chestnut Hill, but he's gonna be taken to school in Foxborough.
It doesn't get easier, as the hard hitting Baltimore Ravens come into town for a Week Four matchup of AFC contenders. This is the first game the Pats could lose, but they won't. The only way that Baltimore will be able to keep things close is to keep Brady on his back, a tactic they used in their close 2007 loss and the key for the Giants Super Bowl upset.
Don't expect the Pats o-line to forget about that. They'll give Brady his pocket, open up the run inside with Fred Taylor, spread it out with Maroney, and come out on top.
Week five just got a little bit easier, as Kyle Orton and the hapless Broncos host the Patriots. Unless Orton throws for five TDs, Denver won't come close. Brady and Belichick will pick apart that sorry excuse for a Broncos' defense, and New England will run away with it.
But just when we thought the schedule was getting easy, here come the Titans. Lucky for us, it's in New England. Tennessee lost a few key components to their defensive line, most notably Albert Haynesworth to Washington.
That's a BIG loss, and the Titans sack numbers should go down this season. Same thing with the Titans as we said with the Ravens, the o-line will be ready.
The last game in October features the Tampa Bay Buccs hosting the Patriots. The aging Byron Leftwich and Warrick Dunn can still put up points, and their defense that ranked sixth overall last season and second against the pass can shut down most opponents, especially an offense like New England.
That Pats defense will have to win this one as Tampa Bay doesn't pride themselves on offense. Lucky for us, we saw Tampa slip hard at the end of last season against the air attack, however, Maroney's got his work cut out for him.
Do you want to know how I'm 100 percent sure we'll win in Week Eight? It's a bye week!! Okay, so what's next?? Miami!!
It's a shame we have to wait until November to play the Dolphins. New England showed they won't be fooled by the wildcat in their second meeting last year.
With Belichick knowing what to expect, the Dolphins will fall hard with the high-octane Brady offense back in 2009. They always put up a fight, but week nine is a home game which New England should take easily.
Remember, it's always nice to play the Fins in cold weather! It gets a little hotter in week 13 when the Pats travel south to Miami, but after the first match-up, New England will be ready.
Nov. 15...Sunday Night Football...mark your calendar. The Pats are traveling to Indy. And why shouldn't New England win this one? Hell, they almost (and should have) won last year's contest. They also won last time we played in the dome while Indianapolis was pumping crowd noise through the speakers!
Plus there's the fact that Brady dominates the Colts on a regular basis...even though Manning gets his punches in as well. It'll come down to defense here, and the Colts with a lesser powered offense now should crumble below the mighty fist of Bill Belichick. I see a fun game, a great rivalry, and a Patriots victory.
Unfortunately for them, the Super Dome can't suit up for defense. New Orleans gave up 339.5 yards per game, 221.7 of which were through the air. Tom Brady to Randy Moss, Tom Brady to Wes Welker...Tom Brady to have a field day.
But the Patriots defense must show up to win this one...the Saints were the only NFL offense to gain 400 yards per game (with 410.7 total, 311.1 in the air).
Then again, Denver and Houston were next on that list, and the Pats only allowed 201.4 yards passing last year. I see an air attack on both sides with New England coming out on top.
Carolina is a middle of the pack team. On defense they're nothing special, whereas Tom Brady is. It should be a close win for the Pats, somewhere around 24-21...similar to a Super Bowl they once won against these very Panthers. This time, I don't think Janice Jackson will be performing...
Bills come next...if you need more reasons that the Pats will win then you've been watching Canadian football for the last decade. And when the Bills move to Toronto in two years, New England will beat that team too.
The last home game of the regular season is against the Jaguars, who just gave Maurice Jones Drew a big pay day. And while they were preseason favorites, the Jags buckled under the pressure in 2008.
Fred Taylor, the Jags franchise rushing king, will look to make an impact against his old team. Not to mention they were ranked 24th last year in passing defense, which we all know, means dividends for New England.
Alright, we're 15-0...so the big contest comes next...
HOUSTON! Need I say more? 22 points per game in 2008 equals a loss in 2009. New England has never lost to the franchise, and they're not about to start that trend now, especially on the cusp of perfection.
So there we have it, the 2009 New England Patriots, 16-0 once again!!