New England Patriots 2015 Schedule: Win-Loss Predictions for Every Game

Erik Frenz@ErikFrenzSenior Writer IApril 22, 2015

New England Patriots 2015 Schedule: Win-Loss Predictions for Every Game

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    Charles Krupa/Associated Press

    Only the NFL could make a big event out of filling in the blanks on information we already have.

    On Monday, a quick Internet search of "New England Patriots 2015 opponents" would have turned up a list of not only each of the Patriots opponents but also of where those games will be played. And now, thanks to a three-hour special on NFL Network, we have the information on when those games will be played.

    The Patriots will be the team everyone circles on their calendar as they try to prove themselves as a contender, but New England is hoping to make pretenders out of all of them. Realistically, the Patriots aren't going to win every game this year, though it stands to reason that every game on their schedule is winnable.

    So, will the Patriots be upset? Or will they run rampant through all their competition? Here's a look at the schedule, previewing each game and predicting the outcome. 

Week 1: Vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Charles Krupa/Associated Press

    Date: Thursday, September 10

    Time: 8:30 p.m. ET

    Network: NBC

    The Patriots kick off the 2015 NFL season with a Super Bowl ceremony and a homestand against the Pittsburgh Steelers.  

    It seems like every year the Steelers are losing another key veteran. This year, they lost two: safety Tory Polamalu and cornerback Ike Taylor. The Patriots have found ways to exploit Polamalu in coverage in the past, so his departure is not necessarily the Patriots' gain. That being said, the Steelers have also lost linebacker Jason Worilds to retirement and cornerback Brice McCain to the Miami Dolphins

    Ben Roethlisberger is coming off one of the best seasons of his career as he led the league in passing yards, which could be effective against the Patriots' soft zone coverage. The Steelers like Roethlisberger to make his reads from the pocket, find the target and get the ball out quickly. Between Antonio Brown, Markus Wheaton and Martavis Bryant, he has plenty of options who can help in that endeavor.

    If the Patriots are going to win, it will be up to their offense to take advantage of the holes in the Steelers' coverage unit. Pittsburgh has lost a lot of key pieces back there in recent years, and the talent level, experience and continuity of that group has taken a step back. So, too, has the Patriots'. 

    Prediction: Patriots 27, Steelers 23

Week 2: At Buffalo Bills

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    Gary Wiepert/Associated Press

    Date: Sunday, September 20

    Time: 1:00 p.m. ET

    Network: CBS

    If you're thinking that a lot of things will change from Rex Ryan's New York Jets to Ryan's Buffalo Bills, think again. Ryan's return to New England will probably mean the same challenge the Patriots have seen from Ryan in the past: a defense that brings pressure from every direction, spins the dial to switch up coverages and keeps Tom Brady and his receivers guessing.  

    In the past six games against the Jets, Brady went 128-of-226 (56.6 percent) for 1,438 yards (6.4 YPA), 10 touchdowns, two interceptions and an 86.9 passer rating. Those are rather pedestrian numbers by Brady's standards. Ryan has kept Brady largely in check. 

    Likewise, the Bills have alternated strong and poor performances against the Patriots in recent years. They've shown the potential to hold Brady in check (three touchdowns, two interceptions in two games in 2013) but have also been burned badly (four touchdowns, no picks in Week 6 of 2014). 

    If the Bills come out swinging, there's no reason they can't go toe-to-toe with Brady and the Patriots at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

    Prediction: Bills 21, Patriots 19

Week 3: Vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

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    David J. Phillip/Associated Press

    Date: Sunday, September 27

    Time: 1:00 p.m. ET

    Network: CBS

    The Jacksonville Jaguars have made some nice additions to their roster this offseason. With defensive tackle Jared Odrick (who has been a one-man wrecking crew against the Patriots in recent years) along with tight end Julius Thomas, the Jaguars are slowly making the moves toward becoming a contender.

    But slowly isn't going to cut it against the Patriots, who are a contender year after year and are coming off a Super Bowl victory. 

    The fate of the Jaguars' future rests in the hands of quarterback Blake Bortles, but with wide receivers Allen Hurns and Justin Blackmon at his disposal along with Thomas at tight end, his job should be a little easier this year. That being said, none of it matters unless his offensive line does a better job of protecting him.

    You might expect the Patriots to sit back in soft coverages and wait for Bortles to make mistakes, but given the Jaguars' weakness up front, this could be one of those rare games where we see a lot of blitzing from the Patriots front seven to create pressure on the quarterback and force him into making mistakes.

    Prediction: Patriots 33, Jaguars 10

Week 4: Bye Week

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    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    The Patriots have an early bye week, and that may seem like a disadvantage.

    Most teams prefer to have their bye week smack dab in the middle of the regular season, but look at it this way: By the end of September, the Patriots will have been working for two straight months (training camp begins in late July). When they return from their bye week, they will have roughly three months of their schedule left. Then, if they are good enough in the regular season, they'll get another bye week. 

    That's not such a bad proposition when you put it that way. 

Week 5: At Dallas Cowboys

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    Brandon Wade/Associated Press

    Date: Sunday, October 11

    Time: 4:25 p.m. ET

    Network: CBS

    The Dallas Cowboys are finally beginning to make the transition from a pretender to a contender, and with this matchup against the Patriots, they'll have an opportunity to cement themselves in the latter of those two categories.

    After losing DeMarco Murray, the Cowboys may be a bit too one-dimensional to get the job done. They will be reliant on their passing game, and anyone who follows the Patriots knows that Bill Belichick feasts on one-dimensional teams. Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo can spread the ball around with the best of them, and wide receiver Dez Bryant is one of the most difficult matchups in the NFL.

    But without a running game to balance it out, it's going to be hard to find rhythm. 

    The true test will be whether the Cowboys' defensive front can hold its ground against the Patriots' running game. Dallas held its opponents to 103 rushing yards per game in 2014, the eighth-lowest in the NFL. The Patriots may have to resort to a pass-happy attack aimed at exploiting the Cowboys' coverage unit, which allowed the seventh-most passing yards in the league last year.

    Prediction: Patriots 24, Cowboys 20

Week 6: At Indianapolis Colts

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    Matt Slocum/Associated Press

    Date: Sunday, October 18

    Time: 8:30 p.m. ET

    Network: NBC (Sunday Night Football)

    Andrew Luck has not lived up to his last name in his career against the New England Patriots. He has completed only 50.3 percent of his throws with six touchdowns against 10 interceptions in four meetings with the Patriots. Granted, those secondaries were much more talented than the one he'll face in 2015. 

    Back then, the Patriots had the likes of Aqib Talib from 2012 to 2013 and Darrelle Revis in 2014 in their lockdown No. 1 cornerback spot. A young, flashing Alfonzo Dennard was the complementary piece in '12 and '13, and Brandon Browner was that man in '14. 

    This time, the Patriots will need to bring their best performance up front with a fierce pass rush that not only disrupts Luck but also brings him down. The three-man rotation of Chandler Jones, Rob Ninkovich and Jabaal Sheard will have to get past bookend tackles Anthony Castonzo and Gosder Cherilus.

    The Colts, on the flip side, are still at their weakest up front. The Patriots have controlled the line of scrimmage in the running game in their past four meetings to the tune of 772 yards and 15 rushing touchdowns. Dominate on the ground once again, and the Patriots can come away with a win.

    Prediction: Patriots 31, Colts 23

Week 7: Vs. New York Jets

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    Winslow Townson/Associated Press

    Date: Sunday, October 25

    Time: 1:00 p.m. ET

    Network: CBS

    Things are back to normal, and Patriots fans can go back to hating Darrelle Revis again. The All-Pro cornerback has returned to the New York Jets to help his old team win a Super Bowl, but they'll have to get through the Patriots to do it.

    The Jets bring a lot of artillery to this battle that they've been missing in recent years. From the physical man-cover cornerbacks like Revis and Antonio Cromartie to the big-bodied matchup-winning receivers like Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall, and factoring in a dominant defensive line that's given the Patriots problems in the past, the Jets are equipped to give New England a fit.

    Unfortunately for Gang Green, they don't have the firepower to keep pace at the game's most important position: quarterback. Tom Brady is the ultimate equalizer, and if the Patriots offensive line can keep him clean, he should have enough time to exploit the Jets' linebackers and safeties in coverage.

    The Jets' receiving group may give the Patriots secondary a hard time, but if the pass rush can get home on a consistent basis, New England should be able to hold serve at home.

    Prediction: Patriots 21, Jets 17

Week 8: Vs. Miami Dolphins

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    Charles Krupa/Associated Press

    Date: Thursday, October 29

    Time: 8:25 p.m. ET

    Network: CBS/NFL Network (Thursday Night Football)

    Say what you will about the Miami Dolphins, but one thing you have to admit is that they have been remarkably consistent under Joe Philbin. That consistency is based on their even performances at home and on the road; they are 4-4 at home and 4-4 on the road in each of the past two seasons. 

    The Patriots, however, have been dominant at home, winning 57 of their past 64 regular-season home games (.891 win percentage), the best in the league by nearly 10 percentage points over the Green Bay Packers (51-12-1, .805 win percentage). 

    The Patriots have at least one game-breaking pass-catching threat in Rob Gronkowski, but they win with strength in numbers in the passing game; between Gronkowski and wide receivers Julian Edelman, Brandon LaFell and Danny Amendola, there are simply too many options to cover them all. Look for Brady to find the favorable matchups, targeting the likes of Jamar Taylor, Will Davis and Walt Aikens when they hit the field.

    Barring that, look for Gronkowski to go into full-on Gronk mode against a paper-thin linebacking group.

    Prediction: Patriots 31, Dolphins 23

Week 9: Vs. Washington Redskins

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    Mark Tenally/Associated Press

    Date: Sunday, November 8

    Time: 1:00 p.m. ET

    Network: Fox

    If Robert Griffin III is the Washington Redskins' starting quarterback, this would mark his first time facing off against the Patriots in the regular season. Redskins head coach Jay Gruden has endorsed RG3 as his starter, but nothing is preventing them from going with Colt McCoy, Kirk Cousins or even a rookie like Oregon's Marcus Mariota.

    Whoever it is, it may not matter. Behind the Redskins' porous offensive line, the quarterback doesn't stand much of a chance. Redskins quarterbacks were sacked a league-high 58 times in 2014, so the Patriots defensive line of Chandler Jones, Rob Ninkovich, Jabaal Sheard, Dominique Easley and Sealver Siliga will have to take advantage of the blood in the water.

    Things might be different if the Redskins had discernible threats in the passing game, but even with Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson, the Patriots should still be able to silence the Redskins' aerial attack. 

    The Patriots offensive line will have to account for defensive tackle Terrance Knighton, recently signed by the Redskins, but without Brian Orakpo and Jarvis Jenkins, the offensive front may not have a tough time keeping Tom Brady clean.

    With so little in the way of talent in the Redskins secondary, if Brady has time in the pocket, he should be able to find his open man. 

    Prediction: Patriots 30, Redskins 12

Week 10: At New York Giants

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    Bill Kostroun/Associated Press

    Date: Sunday, November 15

    Time: 4:25 p.m. ET

    Network: CBS

    Well, at least the Giants won't be wearing their road whites for this game. Those uniforms are liable to send Patriots into a state of post-traumatic stress disorder. 

    If there was ever an interconference rivalry worth tuning in for, this one is it. These two teams have met in some huge games in the past, including the final regular-season game of the Patriots' undefeated 2007 season as well as Super Bowls 42 and 46.

    A lot of names have changed since the last time these two teams met in a meaningful game in February 2012, but four names remain the same: Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, Eli Manning and Tom Coughlin. Manning is becoming more acclimated to the West Coast style of offense that's run by offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo, but he can't play defense too.

    The Giants couldn't stop a nosebleed on the ground last year, yielding 4.9 yards per carry, the league's highest average, and 135 rushing yards per game, the third-highest average. The Patriots should be looking to pound the rock from beginning to end, and if they can control the tempo and keep the Giants' pass rush at bay, they should finally notch a victory over their hated rivals.

    Prediction: Patriots 29, Giants 20

Week 11: Vs. Buffalo Bills

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    Gary Wiepert/Associated Press

    Date: Monday, November 23

    Time: 8:30 p.m. ET

    Network: ESPN (Monday Night Football)

    Put Rex Ryan on the Buffalo Bills and suddenly, they're a prime-time team. 

    Aside from one time in 2010, Gillette Stadium has been a house of horrors for Ryan. He's lost games every which way, from a blocked field goal at the last second to a fumble recovery in overtime to blowouts and everything in between. Now, Ryan has an opportunity to exorcise those demons with the Buffalo Bills.

    But without a franchise quarterback, does he really stand a chance? The Patriots have been historically dominant at home in recent years, and there's no reason to believe they'll take their foot off the gas now. Yes, the Bills have a solid running back with LeSean McCoy in their backfield, and they have weapons in the passing game with Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods.

    But unless that offensive line learns how to block, and unless they acquire a quarterback who can get the ball to his weapons, the Bills offense could find it hard to move the ball against a deep Patriots front seven. 

    Prediction: Patriots 31, Bills 20

Week 12: At Denver Broncos

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    Steven Senne/Associated Press

    Date: Sunday, November 29

    Time: 8:30 p.m. ET

    Network: NBC (Sunday Night Football)

    One more time in prime time, and for a second straight week. 

    Could this be the last time Tom Brady and Peyton Manning square off? It may be, at least in the regular season. Manning is 39 years old, and Brady will be 38 in August. The two quarterbacks have defined a generation, but that generation may be coming to an end. 

    This will mark the 18th battle in the War of 1812, and Brady's team has won the last four regular-season meetings. That being said, this is not a meeting of Brady vs. Manning. It's a meeting of the Denver Broncos vs. the New England Patriots. Both teams have lost some key pieces this offseason, but the Patriots appear to still be the class of the AFC in 2015. 

    The Broncos no longer have Julius Thomas, who had the skill set to give the Patriots linebackers trouble in coverage (although he was held to only two receptions in the previous meeting). The Broncos also lost offensive lineman Orlando Franklin, defensive tackle Terrance Knighton and safety Rahim Moore.

    At the same time, the Patriots' losses of Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner could prove to be huge differences in how successful Manning can be against the Patriots secondary. It will be up to the Patriots' pass rush to cause the disruption in the passing game. They haven't done that in the past against Peyton (five combined sacks in the past four meetings), and they may not have much success this time, either.

    Prediction: Broncos 27, Patriots 21

Week 13: Vs. Philadelphia Eagles

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    Charles Krupa/Associated Press

    Date: Sunday, December 6

    Time: 4:25 p.m. ET

    Network: Fox

    The student meets the master in this first-ever showdown between Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly and Patriots head coach Bill Belichick. The two coaches will put their friendship aside for one weekend during football season to see which one has the better team. Spoiler alert: It's probably the Patriots.

    The Eagles have blown up their offensive operation. They might be fine if they had only moved on from running back LeSean McCoy for DeMarco Murray, an upgrade to be sure, but add in the trade of quarterback Nick Foles to the St. Louis Rams for Sam Bradford, and the Eagles may take a step back on offense.

    They have also taken a page out of the Patriots' playbook by going to the well of former Seattle Seahawks cornerbacks to build their secondary; the Eagles signed Walter Thurmond and Byron Maxwell this offseason. Mix in Nolan Carroll and Brandon Boykin, and the Eagles have a formidable group of cornerbacks.

    Tom Brady may have a hard time getting into rhythm against the Eagles defense, but give him enough opportunities and he'll make enough plays to win.

    Prediction: Patriots 30, Eagles 28

Week 14: At Houston Texans

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    Ben Margot/Associated Press

    Date: Sunday, December 13

    Time: 1:00 p.m. ET

    Network: CBS

    There's no shortage of storylines here.

    Houston Texans head coach Bill O'Brien was a Patriots apprentice for five years (2007 to 2011) and will face off against his old team for the first time. This matchup also marks the first time nose tackle Vince Wilfork will line up against the team that drafted him in 2004. This will also be the first time Brian Hoyer will face off against his old team. 

    And don't forget Romeo Crennel, the former Patriots defensive coordinator, who is now calling the shots on defense for the Texans. 

    More importantly than the familiar names, the Texans have a long list of talented players who are ready to give the Patriots fits. Defensive end J.J. Watt has notched four hurries, seven hits and one sack in his career against the Patriots, according to Pro Football Focus. The Patriots will have to be on their A-game in protection to make sure he doesn't make an impact.

    The Patriots are always at their best when they only have to neutralize one major threat. On offense, that threat is running back Arian Foster. Wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins is a beast, but the Texans ran the ball more than any other team in 2015, so it will be up to Sealver Siliga, Alan Branch and Dominique Easley to have a big game holding their ground in the middle of the defensive line. 

    On paper, this is a game the Patriots should win. We shouldn't ignore the familiarity aspect, though, which could play a factor in the preparation. 

    Prediction: Patriots 26, Texans 24

Week 15: Vs. Tennessee Titans

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    Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

    Date: Sunday, December 20

    Time: 1:00 p.m. ET

    Network: CBS

    Is there any reason the Patriots should lose this game? Go on, think of something. I'll wait. 

    The Tennessee Titans don't have a starting quarterback—either Zach Mettenberger or Marcus Mariota will be prone to Bill Belichick's mix of coverages. 

    Their defense is one of the worst in the league—one of the four worst in Football Outsiders' opponent-adjusted metrics, to be exact, and one of only three defenses that finished among the 10 worst against both the pass and the run.

    They have a couple of discernible threats in the passing game in Kendall Wright and Justin Hunter, and tight end Delanie Walker could be a problem for the Patriots linebackers, but none of them is the type of receiver who will take a game over. The Titans don't have a running game that can milk the clock and keep Tom Brady on the sideline, and the porous offensive line only helped its running backs average 4.1 yards per carry and also allowed 50 sacks last year.

    On paper, this is a game the Patriots should dominate. 

    Prediction: Patriots 31, Titans 17

Week 16: At New York Jets

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    Charles Krupa/Associated Press

    Date: Sunday, December 13

    Time: 1:00 p.m. ET

    Network: CBS

    The Jets are going to be a tough team to predict for the 2014 season because we still don't know what's going on at the quarterback position—and even if they find a way to draft Oregon's Marcus Mariota, there will still be questions over how well he will transition to the NFL as a rookie.

    That being said, two factors can help a team turn things around in a short time frame: a good running game and a tough pass defense. The Jets should have both. With Chris Ivory, Bilal Powell and Stevan Ridley in the backfield, the Jets are liable to run the ball 30-plus times per game in 2015.

    You can also count the Jets' lack of a surefire quarterback among the reasons for that potential outcome.

    Give Todd Bowles enough tape, and he'll come up with a defensive game plan that can confuse even the best quarterbacks. The challenge will be breathing enough life into his offense to take advantage. The Patriots cleaned up in run defense over the course of the 2014 season, but there are still some holes that can be exploited up front.

    If the Jets can just play keep-away for long enough, they can give themselves a chance to steal a victory.  

    Prediction: Jets 21, Patriots 17

Week 17: At Miami Dolphins

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    Marc Serota/Associated Press

    Date: Sunday, January 3

    Time: 1:00 p.m. ET

    Network: CBS

    That hot Miami sun just gets to the Patriots every time. The Pats have had a tough go of it when traveling down to Miami to take on the Dolphins at SunLife Stadium and have not won there since 2012. 

    In the past two seasons, quarterback Ryan Tannehill led the Dolphins on a late touchdown drive to beat the Patriots in 2013, and the Dolphins surged to a dominant second half to beat the Patriots in the 2014 season opener. The reason? A fierce pass rush that put pressure on Brady and held him to modest numbers (85.7 passer rating in Week 15 2013, 69.7 in Week 1 2014). 

    The Dolphins offense had its way with the Patriots front seven in Week 1 of the 2014 season, rushing for 191 yards behind a dominant performance from Knowshon Moreno. The Patriots are moving on without Vince Wilfork up front, and they could be missing the presence of their big man in the middle of the defense. What's more, Tannehill was able to get into rhythm against the Patriots last season, when they had Darrelle Revis; he might have even more luck against a secondary that's a step slower than last year's. 

    Unless the Patriots can find a way to keep Brady clean and force the Dolphins to play one-dimensional football, they could be suffering a little deja vu in Miami. 

    Prediction: Dolphins 27, Patriots 24


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