With the 2011 regular season fast-approaching, it's time to do a breakdown of the upcoming schedule for the Patriots. Last week, I made predictions on the first four games of the season and had New England rolling to a 4-0 start. Here is my breakdown of Games 5-8.
Week 5 - Home vs. New York Jets
This is the game that every Patriots fan has circled on their calendar. It's time to serve a dish of revenge, piping hot. Jets fans are probably supremely confident that their boys will be able to waltz into Foxboro and recreate the pounding that they handed New England in last season's playoffs. However, the Patriots rarely allow teams to fool them twice. You can be sure that Belichick has a whole host of schemes cooked up to counter Rex Ryan's game plan. This is going to be a brawl, and I expect the Patriots to come out the victors.
Predicted Record: 5-0
Week 6 - Home vs. Dallas
"America's Team" vs. the REAL American team. Dallas is a hard team to read overall, as they have the talent to potentially be an elite club, but clearly stumbled embarrassingly last season. Regardless, I'm not picking against the Patriots at home in this situation. Rack up another W.
Predicted Record: 6-0
Week 8 - Away vs. Pittsburgh
This game should easily be one of the toughest three games on the schedule for New England. It would be easy to pencil in a loss here, but the timing couldn't be any more perfect for the Patriots. Belichick's record coming off the bye week is phenomenal and if there's one team that shouldn't be scared of walking into Heinz Field, it's the Patriots. I'm calling another victory for the Patriots.
Predicted Record: 7-0
Week 9 - Home vs. New York Giants
It's been nearly four long years since that fateful day in February of 2008 when the Patriots' shot at 19-0 immortality slipped through their fingers and got stuck on David Tyree's helmet. The cast members have largely changed since then, but there's one player who's belly is still burning with every memory of that game. It's the same player who will show Eli Manning that he definitively is NOT in the same class as the reigning league MVP. You know Brady and Belichick want this one. They're going to get it.
Predicted Record: 8-0
Ok, I know an 8-0 record at this point is highly unlikely. The Monday Night Opener will be anything-goes, Week 2 in San Diego could be dangerous as the weather will be nice, Week 4 at Oakland is a giant trap game, and Week 5 against the Jets and Week 8 at Pittsburgh will certainly not be walks in the park. There are plenty of chances for the Patriots to stub their toes during the first half of the season. However, I believe that last year's 14-2 team will be better this time around. That team only lost to the Jets and the Browns. I think the Pats have New York's number this season with the new 4-3 defensive scheme and an improved running game and O-line. And last time I checked, the Browns weren't on the schedule.
I'm just saying...