The Pats only cross into another time zone once, heading to Dallas and no farther West than that.
The pessimist realizes that the Pats take a double-hit on opponents, trading the pathetic NFC North for the power-packed NFC East and the mediocre AFC South for the always-physical AFC North.
The Patriots' 2007 opponents went 114-94 a year ago, a winning percentage of .548. Compare that to the Super Bowl champion Colts' opposition coming up (110-98, .529), and you realize things could get mighty dicey.
It's only April, but Bill Belichick and the boys still are rife with question marks.
No void is deeper than the secondary, where Rodney Harrison's status and potential return from knee problems is clandestine.
Is Eugene Wilson healthy again? If he returns, will he be the promising Wilson of 2004 or the out-of-synch Wilson of 2006?
Will Asante Samuel play here ever again? And who can hold down the other corner?
Is the signing of Adalius Thomas enough to hide the aging linebacking woes?
Are journeyman Wes Welker and underachieving Donte Stallworth simply two more Band-Aids for the deep gash at the receiver spots?
And is second-year man Laurence Maroney ready for prime time as the No. 1 back?
You get the picture, right?
That said, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick - plus the defensive front three and the anemic status of the AFC East - assure at least 10 wins a year.
But have the Patriots done or will they do enough to earn one of the top two seeds in the AFC?
Right now, the answer is no. It says here a 10-6 ride is in the works unless their draft is special.
Here's how the season breaks down:
Sept. 9, at New York Jets - Opening day is the wrong time to tackle Eric Mangini's crew. Fragile Chad Pennington is healthy, and the New Yorkers will get the jump on the Pats, who lose the opener for the first time since 2003.
Sept. 16, San Diego Chargers - The perfect short-term remedy for a New England sports fandom angered by yet another August-September Sox swoon and panicked by Week 1's defeat to the Jets. A hungry Belichick defense emasculates LaDainian Tomlinson and shackles the Chargers to ease the flow of leapers off the Zakim Bridge.
Sept. 23, Buffalo Bills - Probably won't be pretty because nobody is taking the Bills seriously these days. Nonetheless, J.P. Losman provides the fuel to the Patriots' fire in a tidy, divisional win. Guarantee that Belichick says afterward, "It's always nice to win in the division."
Oct. 1, at Cincinnati - The Monday night game of the year and possibly the decade. Tom Brady and Carson Palmer, two of the top gunslingers in the game, go at it in a classic. Unfortunately, Palmer has "Ocho-Cinco" and Brady has a handful of "tres and cuatros" - that is No. 3 and No. 4 receivers. Bengals win, but not easily, again in a classic.
Oct. 7, Cleveland Browns - Thank you Roger Goodell and the rest of the NFL hierarchy. On the short week, the tired Pats get a freebie with Romeo Crennel's hapless Browns at Gillette. Again, it's no Picasso, but chalk up a much-needed win heading to the toughest month of the slate.
Oct. 14, at Dallas Cowboys - The Pats start a crucial four-game stretch without the distraction of a Belichick-Bill Parcells showdown. As long as the game doesn't come down to a Tony Romo field-goal hold, Dallas is OK. New Cowboys coach Wade Phillips has more weapons and emerges victorious.
Oct. 21, at Miami Dolphins - How dare new coach Cam Cameron allow Olindo Mare to walk. The Dolphins rue the day they ever let him go. Miami is headed for hard times and the Pats win handily, even in the South Florida sun.
Oct. 28, Washington Redskins - The Pats say goodbye to the .500 mark for good. Does the Jason Campbell/Mark Brunell/Todd Collins three-headed quarterback monster really scare anyone? Lay the number, this one will be a bloodbath.
Nov. 4, at Indianapolis Colts - The rematch from last year's AFC title game. A win would put the Pats in a perfect spot to challenge for a playoff bye headed into the bye week. Somebody forgets to inform Peyton Manning, though, and the Colts signal-caller now has the Pats' number. Indy wins and sends the Pats into the bye week atop the AFC East at 5-4.
Nov. 18, at Buffalo Bills - Losman and Dick Jauron vs. Brady and Belichick coming off the bye with two weeks to prepare. Another first-round KO for the Pats.
Nov. 25, Philadelphia Eagles - Comeback Player of the Year candidate Donovan McNabb and coach Andy Reid bring the surprising (again!) Eagles to town. It's Sunday night and the nation is watching, usually a formula for Patriots success. Belichick does his old pal Tom Coughlin a favor and sends the visitors back to Philly a loser.
Dec. 3, at Baltimore Ravens - At first glance, the Ravens (13-3 last year) hosting the Pats (12-4 last year) has the potential for a Monday night thriller. Before a national audience, this is Kyle Boller's proving ground. He and a camera-craving Ravens defense have their say. The request to ESPN not to put a microphone on Ray Lewis is already in the mail. The Pats drop a heartbreaker, one they really want and one that costs them playoff leverage.
Dec. 9, Pittsburgh Steelers - It only makes sense that the Steelers take a step back with Bill Cowher stepping down. This one could prove the final nail in their playoff coffin.
Dec. 16, New York Jets - Time to repay the favor from the season opener. The Jets put up little fight.
Dec. 23, Miami Dolphins - By now, the Dolphins are scouring the college ranks for a QB savior and piling up the losses to move up to the top. It's too cold, too painful and too much Patriots for Cameron to handle.
Dec. 29, at New York Giants - The expected Eli Manning-Tom Brady matchup the NFL Network had hoped for in this Saturday night closer disintegrates into a Manning-Matt Cassel clash. That's one Coughlin's Giants can handle as the Pats give another finale away.
New England wins the AFC East for the seventh straight year, but the Pats have their postseason work cut out for them, needing two wins on the road to earn a Super Bowl trip.
Hector Longo is an Eagle-Tribune sportswriter. E-mail him at email@example.com.
2007 Patriots Schedule
Sept. 9%at N.Y. Jets%1 p.m.
Sept. 16%San Diego%8:15 p.m.
Sept. 23%Buffalo%1 p.m.
Oct. 1%at Cincinnati%8:30 p.m.
Oct. 7%Cleveland%1 p.m.
Oct. 14%at Dallas%4:15 p.m.
Oct. 21%at Miami%1 p.m.
Oct. 28%Washington%4:15 p.m.
Nov. 4%at Indianapolis%4:15 p.m.
Nov. 18%at Buffalo%1 p.m.
Nov. 25%Philadelphia%8:15 p.m.
Dec. 3%at Baltimore%8:30 p.m.
Dec. 16%N.Y. Jets%1 p.m.
Dec. 23%Miami%1 p.m.
Dec. 29%at Giants%8:15 p.m.