First reaction: WOW. We knew the Pats had a relatively easy list of opponents in 2008, and it looks like the NFL has gone out of its way to ensure the Pats' front office is happy with how they handled four West Coast trips in one season.
By dividing the West Coast games into two trips of back-to-backers, the Pats' travel has been cut in half. They will undoubtedly remain on the West Coast in between those games and avoid major jet lag.
Here's our game-by-game analysis.
Week 1: Kansas City Chiefs
Lambs to the slaughter here. I'd bet this will serve as a reminder to the league that the entire starting record-setting offense from 2007 returns. Brodie Croyle is probably still cleaning out his shorts after learning he has to open up at the Patriots.
Week 2: @ New York Jets
Like last year’s opener this will be a solid test for the Pats as the Jets have added some solid free agents and hold the No. 6 pick in the draft.
I liked playing at the Meadowlands early in the season because it was a chance to put an early stranglehold on the AFC East title. Let's just hope we can avoid all the off-the-field drama that last year's contest had.
Week 3: Miami Dolphins
Though I like it better when we make Miami come to Foxboro in the cold winter, it will be a good chance to be 2-0 in the division heading into the bye week.
Who knows what Miami will look like? They should be better than last year, but that wouldn't be hard, considering they were 1-15.
Certainly by week three, they're still going to be getting a feel for what they've got, which means they'll probably be on the receiving end of a New England pounding.
Week 4: BYE
This is early for a bye and not ideal, but oh well. At least it's a buffer for the first West Coast trip.
Week 5: @ San Francisco 49ers
The first of four West Coast games. I'm glad we're playing them first to avoid a letdown against the next opponent.
Being from the West Coast, I consider this the least intriguing of the games I could theoretically attend. Thus, I'll probably skip it. San Francisco should be better, just not that much better.
Week 6: @ San Diego Chargers
This will be a big one since the Pats have owned the Chargers over the past two seasons. Luckily, the Pats won't have to worry about jet lag and should be ready to go.
I fully plan on going to this game as I was there two years ago for the Pats' AFC Divisional upset over the Chargers. Beating the Chargers never gets old. They always talk trash before and cry afterwards. Good times!
Week 7: Denver Broncos
Monday Night clash! Another gift from the scheduling gods as the Pats won't have a short week to prepare after their first West Coast swing.
I imagine this game could get ugly as the Pats still owe the Broncos for the 2005 playoff loss and the 2006 regular season defeat.
Somehow, Denver always plays the Pats tough, and I think this could be the first time that isn't the case. Champ Bailey covering Randy Moss should be fun to watch.
Week 8: St. Louis Rams
St. Louis was bad last year. If they're just as bad this year, this could be a blowout. The over/under on number of times we see highlights of Super Bowl 36 before this is roughly two million.
Week 9: @ Indianapolis Colts
Indy's coming off a short week for this one—another gift from the NFL schedulers. As always this should be a great game that comes down to the wire. Mark this one down on the calendar for sure.
Has anyone told the Colts that their new stadium (Lucas Oil Stadium) can be shortened to LOS? That's probably what they'll do in week nine.
Week 10: Buffalo Bills
The Bills will be an improved team, and this could be a very dangerous game for the Pats. Luckily, it's at home, so the chance of a letdown after Indy is a little less.
If they can stay healthy, Buffalo could be a playoff team. By this time we'll have a pretty good idea if Trent Edwards is legit. If he is, look out Pats fans. The Bills could be back in business.
Week 11: New York Jets
Thursday night showdown, which means it will probably air on NFL Network. All you sorry saps like me who have Time Warner should start thinking about a place to watch the game.
It's a short week too, making this three-game stretch probably the toughest portion of the Pats' 2008 skid. Luckily, by this time we'll be embroiled in a Chad Pennington vs. Kellen Clements debate when realistically neither is the answer. Unless they draft Matt Ryan.
Week 12: @ Miami Dolphins
Thus ends the hard part of the schedule.
Week 13: Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh has probably the toughest schedule in the NFL next year, and this is just another reason why. Last year, they were no match for the Pats in Foxboro. We'll see if their lack of activity in Free Agency changes that in 2008.
This is usually about the time the Pats have a letdown game where the O-line can't block any one, and Brady seems to be throwing to the other team. Let's see if the 2008 Pats can turn those games into wins like the 2007 Pats did (see Philly/Baltimore wins).
Week 14: @ Seattle Seahawks
A highlight game of the season. Seattle has arguably the best home field advantage in the league. They will be fired up to play the Pats, and it's very likely that I will be there.
There will be some rehashing of the 2006 Deion Branch debacle—that is, if he's actually playing and not sidelined yet again with injuries.
Week 15: @ Oakland Raiders
Randy Moss returns to Oakland. I wonder if the Raider fans will have anything to say about the Tuck Rule? I might also attend this game, but that will depend on how much I feel like being stabbed.
Week 16: Arizona Cardinals
If Matt Leinart is actually healthy by this point, he's going to have quite a tall order beating the Pats at Gillette in late December when traditionally Bill Belichick's team is firing on all cylinders.
Still everyone always picks the Cardinals to break out, and they have a decent offense. I just can't see their defense stopping the Pats on any level.
Week 17: @ Buffalo Bills
This is a tough game. It will be cold. The Bills could very well be fighting for a playoff spot, and the Pats could be resting starters.
Buffalo is just not a place you want to play a football game when it's almost January. It's not even a place you want to watch a football game.