New England Patriots Face a Much Tougher Schedule in 2009

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New England Patriots Face a Much Tougher Schedule in 2009
(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

The NFL released the Patriots' 2009 regular season schedule Tuesday night. You can check it out here.

The Patriots actually leaked their prime-time schedule about a half hour before the entire schedule was due to be released. Those crafty…err…Krafts.

 

Prime Time Games

Sept. 14 (Monday) — vs. Buffalo (7 p.m.)
Nov. 15 – at Indianapolis (8:20 p.m.)
Nov. 30 (Monday) – at New Orleans (8:30 p.m.)
Dec. 6 – at Miami (8:20 p.m.)

The Buffalo game we already knew about. We’re also pretty happy about it. It’s a home game, in prime time, against the Bills.

The Bills, who aren’t nearly as good as the Patriots, will be missing their best offensive player in Marshawn Lynch, and could be missing their starting safety in Donte Whitner (depending on how his recent arrest plays out).

Sounds good to me.

The Colts game is kind of surprising. The last few years, the NFL has elected to put the Patriots-Colts game in the 4:15 p.m. slot in mid-November (sweeps) due to the game’s ability to draw ratings no matter when it’s played.

New Orleans should be a fun, offensive battle, and Miami-New England is always fun.

 

Toughest Stretch of the Schedule

Sept. 27 – vs. Atlanta (11-5)
Oct. 4 – vs. Baltimore (11-5)
Oct. 11 – at Denver (8-8)
Oct. 18 – vs. Tennessee (13-3)
Oct. 25 -- at Buccaneers (9-7)
Nov. 1 -- Bye Week
Nov. 8 – vs. Miami (11-5)
Nov. 15 – at Indianapolis (12-4)
Nov. 22 – vs. N.Y. Jets (9-7)
Nov. 30 – at New Orleans (8-8)
Dec. 6 – at Miami (11-5)
Dec. 13 – vs. Carolina (12-4)

Are you kidding me?

Over this stretch of schedule, the Patriots will play 7 of 11 games against playoff teams from last season. Their opponents’ combined record from last season was 115–61.

Yikes.

Let me put it this way. If the Patriots’ defense plays like it played last season, there’s absolutely no way they win 11 games again.

Of course, I have no reason to believe the Patriots’ defense is going to be anything but better—and significantly better. But the strength-of-schedule difference is worth pointing out.

The Patriots should start the season 2-0. They are much, much better than both the Bills and the Jets. They should finish the season 3-0 (at Buffalo, vs. Jacksonville, and at Houston).

If the Patriots can take care of business at the bookends of their schedule, they likely would only need to go 6-5 against that death-stretch to make the playoffs.

Then again, 11 wins missed the playoffs in 2008…

 

Two Most Intriguing Games on the Schedule

Oct. 4 – vs. Baltimore
Oct. 11 – at Denver

The Denver game is intriguing for obvious reasons. The student vs. the teacher.

Or maybe the team that gave a franchise quarterback to the Chiefs for a second-round pick while leaking that the Broncos were interested in Matt Cassel, throwing their team into complete disarray that resulted in the Kyle Orton era vs. the student?

The Baltimore game is intriguing because, if you recall, it was the 11-5 Ravens that made the playoffs over the 11-5 Patriots. Not that it’ll go back and erase what happened last season, but you can be sure the Patriots will have this one circled.

Obviously, we’ll all be looking forward to the Jets, Dolphins, and Colts games. It’ll be fun to see Matt Ryan back in New England.

Heck, I’m excited about the entire schedule.

How long ‘til September?

This article also appeared on New England Patriots Examiner.

Follow Sean on Twitter.

Questions? Comments? Insults? You can email them to Sean Crowe at scrowe@gmail.com.

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