As we inch closer to the start of the 2010 season, I thought it would be a good idea to make some quick analysis of the schdule and make some predictions about how the Patriots will fare in each of their 16 constests. We took a look at Weeks 1-4 last week, and in today's piece we'll take a look at Weeks 6-9.
As a quick recap, here's how I called each of the first four games. (You can find the full article here.)
Week 1: Home vs. Cincinatti - W
Week 2: Away vs. New York Jets - W
Week 3: Home vs. Buffalo - W
Week 4: Away vs. Miami - L
Week 5: BYE
Week 6 - Home vs. Baltimore
The Patriots took on Baltimore twice at home last season. In Week 4, the teams played a nail-biter, with the Patriots stopping Baltimore in the red zone as the final seconds ticked down. They met again in the playoffs and it was a completely different affair. The Ravens gashed the Patriots in the most embarrasing defeat the team has ever suffered in Gillette Stadium. The Ravens appear to be every bit as good this season as they were last year, and if this game occurred any other week, I'd put it down for a loss. However, the Patriots haven't lost a game coming out of the bye week since 2002. Combine that with the need for vengeance and I have to pick the Pats here.
Predicted Record: 4-1
Week 7 - Away vs. San Diego
San Diego has been an enigma the past several years. They've managed to squeak into the playoffs the past two seasons, but the Bolts have a tendency to go on some pretty extreme hot and cold streaks throught the year. As a result, it's difficult to figure out which Charger team the Pats are going to get in Week 7. The game could either be a breeze or a battle. I think with all the bad blood built up against New England from back-to-back playoff losses in '06 and '07, the Chargers will be amped up for this one. I'll pencil in the second loss of the season here.
Predicted Record: 4-2
Week 8 - Home vs. Minnesota
This is a tough game for me. The Vikings are obviously a formidable opponent, and part of me wants to not be a homer and just call this one a loss. On the flip side, the Patriots aren't known for losing back-to-back games, it's at home, and the Vikings are really a dome team. I wrestled with this one for quite a while before coming to my conclusion. At the end of the day, I trust Brady more than Favre, and I definitely trust Belichick more than Childress. I'm going to buck conventional logic here, and mark down a W for the Patriots.
Predicted Record: 5-2
Week 9 - Away vs. Cleveland
The perfect trap game. The Patriots are coming off a big win against Minnesota, flying high and feeling really good about themselves at 5-2. In Week 10, they have a big road game against the Steelers. You know Belichick will have his guard up and do his best to embarress Mangini, but will this game mean as much to his players? There's a "shocker" nearly every season, and I'm picking this game against the Browns to be New England's in 2010.
Predicted Record: 5-3
As I mentioned in the first article in this series, the Pats find themselves with an incredibly tough schedule this season. The first half will be absolutely critical in determining how this year pans out as it doesn't take a big stretch of the imagination to see scenarios where they lose three of their first four games and three of their second four games. While I had New England starting strong at 3-1, I think 2-2 is reasonable for this second stretch. Baltimore and Minnesota, their two home opponents, are no pushovers. San Diego will be a challenge for sure, and Cleveland's a bit of a toss-up. I'm not very confident that I nailed the proper order of the wins and losses during Weeks 6-9, but I'd be presently surprised we we ended this difficult stretch at 3-1 or better.