The "official" New England Patriots schedule has been released.
Anyway, there's a lot to digest beyond the Bill Belchick-Tom Brady World War III matchup on Oct. 3.
We will save Belichick and Brady for a little later.
Here are 10 quick thoughts on the Pats alleged and if it gives the edge to Patriots or foe:
Dolphins get edge
While Patriots fans are excited about the possibility of taking a friends/family trip to Miami in January, the fact the Patriots don’t play Miami in a chilly, December game would suit the Pats better. The Patriots rarely play well down in Miami, never mind needing oxygen tanks. The only good thing is the Dolphins playing in 26 degrees with wind.
Tebow in Foxboro?
OK, I get it. Tim Tebow isn’t really the Jaguars player you want to see. It’s Trevor Lawrence, the reigning No. 1 pick and top-rated college QB since Andrew Luck. That will happen on Jan. 2. That will be the makeup game for Miami, which comes on opening day instead of chilly January.
It will be hard knowing how good the Patriots chances of competing for an AFC Division title until some time in December. The Patriots don’t play the Bills until Dec. 6 and then Dec. 26. The Bills could be the favorites in the AFC with the Chiefs. The Patriots will have played 12 games before their first with the Bills.
If there is one way in which this schedule favors the Patriots, beyond opening at home against Miami, it will be facing the new New York Jets twice before Halloween. The Jets will probably need some time to figure things out this year and it would be better to get two early “W’s” while they are in that process.
The Dallas Cowboys may have finally had a good draft and, well, headed in the right direction with their quarterback, Dak Prescott, returning to work after a bad knee injury. The Cowboys are just fun to play when they are in some slight disarray. When the owner is picking players, in my humble opinion, disarray is always around the corner.
Road revenge games
While the Tampa Bay game is obvious (see Tom Brady vs. Bill Belichick), there are three other games with extreme “revenge” possibilities – Pats at Chargers (see Pats 45-0 last year); Pats at Carolina (see Cam Newton returning to Carolina); and Pats at Atlanta (Super Bowl comeback). Each of those games will have added importance for the home team against the Patriots.
Edge Pats foes.
Remember the Titans
While Brady is no doubt on Belichick’s mind this offseason you can bet your bottom dollar so is Tennessee and their head coach Mike Vrabel. His team not only embarrassed the Patriots in that Wild Card game in which Brady’s last pass in a Pats uniform was a Pick-6, but he was over-the-top in his celebration and knocking out the Patriots. Belichick does not want to lose this game. And I don’t believe he will.
Only one Monday night
This is strange. For nearly two decades since winning the Super Bowl over the Rams in February of 2002, the Patriots have played two games on Monday night. This year it’s only once, against the Bills on Dec. 6. While that might be considered a slight slap on the wrist for their 7-9 season in 2020, the less night games the better, especially on the road. It takes two days to recover, especially if more than 1,000 miles away, and especially west of Chicago. This is good news for the Patriots, which also play only one Sunday night game (vs. Tampa on Oct. 3).
Texans when down
This was supposed to be a tough matchup for the Patriots, especially in Texas, but with DeShaun Watson in deep trouble with is “massage” people, the Texans are a mess. Nothing has gone right, including trying to deal Watson for some hefty draft picks. That is a story for another day, but the Texans have owned the Patriots in Houston. Not in 2021.
'Good' bye week
I might be saving the best for last. The Patriots get their bye week after their Dec. 6 game with the Bills in Buffalo. That is a good thing. Heading into their final drive of the season – four games remaining – this rest couldn’t come at a better time. Of course, if an inordinate amount of players or a key guy is out, all bets are off. But this rest, with a month to go in the season, could be a key cog in the Patriots late season machine.
You can email Bill Burt at email@example.com.