Honestly, technology and the thirst to be first have ruined what was once a very precious day for National Football League fans.
Still, I do feel the need to step up and assess the 2022 New England Patriots’ slate — leaked through the day Thursday by a horde of media sources.
The NFL has made this task much easier, now that the announcements have been after the draft, a change that was made in the past decade.
To be frank, the schedule makers have not been kind to New England, what with three of the first four on the road. For a football team attempting to wipe the taste of an ugly December-January — four loss in the last five including a 47-17 playoff thumping at the hands of Buffalo — that could be a bit tenuous.
With that we embark on our own trek through the 2022 Patriots campaign, albeit four months before they actually do.
Sept. 11 at Miami: Tua and Mac. Mac and Tua. Jones may have made the Pro Bowl as a rookie, but Tagavailoa won both matches with his former Alabama understudy a year ago. Make it three in a row. Pats wilt in the Miami heat. (0-1)
Sept. 18 at Pittsburgh: Will it be the rookie Kenny Pickett taking over for Ben Roethlisberger? The hunch here is, yes. and that could be bad news for the Patriots. Pittsburgh’s weapons should certainly have the Patriots defense in a state of panic. Imagine going from Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle in Week 1 to Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, George Pickens and former Eagle-Tribune MVP Pat Freiermuth in Week 2 – not to mention a fresh Najee Harris. Another tough spot for the Pats, who tumble again. (0-2)
Sept. 25 vs. Baltimore: Timing is everything. and again, you have to figure Lamar Jackson to be healthy. The Patriots have not handled running QBs well recently. Jackson will have a huge day at Gillette. The Ravens, after splitting Weeks 1 and 2 with Miami and the Jets, will need a win in Foxborough since they have Buffalo in Week 4. Bill Belichick’s crew still can’t find the winner’s circle. (0-3)
Oct. 2 at Green Bay: Aaron Rodgers has some serious heat on him with the new contract extension. He just can’t be losing at home to a struggling Patriots team. Hard to believe it but New England drops its fourth in a row, the first time since Belichick’s first year here in 2000. (0-4)
Oct. 9 vs. Detroit: We’ll spare all the ludicrous Matt Patricia revenge references. They’re the Lions. New England saves its season — for now. (1-4)
Oct. 16 at Cleveland: As rocky as the Patriots’ start has been, I’m expecting a mutinous mess in Cleveland. Pats silence the Dawg Pound. (2-4)
Oct. 24 vs. Chicago: Monday Night Football with the Bears at Gillette. Time for these suddenly-surging Patriots to flex. Three straight and the New England football faithful step away from the ledge. (3-4)
Oct. 30 at NY Jets: Folks around New York are raving about the offseason. The draft. The moves. The bottom line is you don’t win football games in late April. They’re the Jets. You saw Zach Wilson as a rookie. Your Pats, unbelievably, have crawled their way back to .500. (4-4)
Nov. 6 vs. Indianapolis: Looking for an AFC sleeper. It’s the Colts. Jonathan Taylor is unique, and he is awesome. You saw that a year ago. Unfortunately, recent history repeats itself. (4-5)
Nov. 20 vs. NY Jets: Belichick off the bye at home against a cupcake. The schedule makers do the Pats a solid, sort of. (5-5)
Nov. 24 at Minnesota: Payback for the cushy bye return is a Turkey Day trip to Minnesota. Who the heck is going to cover Justin Jefferson? Like the tire commercial says, “Nobody.” (5-6)
Dec. 1 vs. Buffalo: The Bills are still the beasts of the AFC East. It says here that the winds will be slightly less severe at home for this Thursday nighter than they were a year ago when New England pulled off the shocker at Orchard Park. (5-7)
Dec. 12 at Arizona: Just a monster of a road game here — pretty much a must-win. The Cardinals are for real, though. The recent Kyler Murray bashing — remember how bad he looked in the playoff loss — has again been silenced. The Pats can’t match up. (5-8)
Dec. 18 at Las Vegas: Hope the players like the desert, although I don’t expect Belichick to allow his troops much time on the Strip. A week in the sun can’t deter New England from defending the coach’s honor. No way Josh McDaniels beats Bill, no matter how stacked the Raiders might be. (6-8)
Dec. 24 vs. Cincinnati: Is there nothing sacred? Football on Christmas Eve? Wonder if there will be seven fishes in the Gillette Stadium media spread. No chance the Bengals have any interest in a Foxborough Christmas. Cincy is in the midst of bouncing back to the pack. Pats pummel Joe Burrow. (7-8)
Jan. 1 vs. Miami: New England’s playoff hopes are on life-support. Mac steps up in a way that makes you think that yes, he is the guy. Meanwhile, Miami’s doubts about Tua are manifesting themselves in a late-season swoon. (8-8)
Jan 7 or 8 at Buffalo: New England season-victory over bettors (the line is 8.5 wins) now must rely on the Bills, who’ve locked up the division by now, to rest the regulars. I say it happens. Victory on the road in the lunacy that is the Buffalo winter. Unfortunately, it’s not enough. Even with the win, the Patriots are on the outside-looking in as far as the postseason is concerned. (9-8)
And that’s that. The Pats seem destined for the middle of the pack. You have to wonder, in these post-Brady times, if that is going to be enough.