The NFL schedule was released in its entirety on Thursday, and the New England Patriots have one of the league’s toughest schedules facing them in the 2023 season.
The Patriots have the third-toughest schedule in terms of winning percentage of opponents from the 2022 season and has the toughest schedule based on its opponents’ projected oddsmakers wins totals.
Top 5 easiest schedules based on Projected Vegas Win Totals (per @SharpFootball):
— John Daigle (@notJDaigle) May 12, 2023
So, let’s take a look at the Patriots’ 17-game slate and see if they can make it back to the playoffs in 2023.
Week 1 – vs. Philadelphia Eagles
There really couldn’t have been a much tougher way for the Patriots to open the season. Maybe they could get a break by facing a Philly team that lost several starters in free agency over the season this early.
But the majority of the players the Eagles lost weren’t super integral pieces to their Super Bowl run. They also have a clear edge in the trenches on both sides of the ball, which could lead to a brutal start to the season for Mac Jones as his questionable offensive line will have to slow down one of the best defensive fronts in football.
Prediction: Patriots lose 27-13
Week 2 – vs. Miami Dolphins
Tua Tagovailoa has had the Patriots’ number in his career, winning all four games against them. While there have been health concerns surrounding him, he’ll probably be available for the matchup considering it’s the second game of the season.
Still, I think the Patriots can find a way to win this one. Miami’s defense wasn’t too great last season and doesn’t have a fearsome pass rush, so even the addition of Jalen Ramsey won’t be enough against New England.
Prediction: Patriots win 24-20
Week 3 – @ New York Jets
The Patriots’ first matchup against the Jets’ iteration of Aaron Rodgers comes early in the season. Just like with the Eagles, playing the Jets this early could be beneficial.
But Rodgers seems to be extra motivated going into the season, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he had a Brett Favre-esque first season with the Jets where he starts out hot before cooling off late in the season. The Patriots played well against Rodgers last season, making him claw for victory, and swept the Jets. So I expect a close one.
Prediction: Patriots lose 20-16
Week 4 – @ Dallas Cowboys
Tough sledding for the Patriots in the first quarter-ish part of the season. The Cowboys should still be one of the most well-rounded teams in football in 2023, even if they aren’t elite, which could allow the Patriots to pull off the upset. Still, Dallas just has too many playmakers on both sides of the ball that will be too tough to overcome for New England.
Prediction: Patriots lose 27-24
Week 5 – vs. New Orleans Saints
A much-need home reprieve against a relatively weaker opponent for the Patriots in Week 5. The Saints have a solid roster, but they’ve had Derek Carr’s number. He has thrown for just 5.9 yards per attempt over his four career matchups against New England, going 1-3 against the Patriots.
Prediction: Patriots win 31-13
Kyle Dugger walks in for the pick-six
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Week 6 – @ Las Vegas Raiders
Another easier opponent for the Patriots in Week 6. But I expect a closer battle as the Raiders’ offense should be better this season with Jimmy Garoppolo at the helm and Jakobi Meyers likely to be more available than Darren Waller was. Josh McDaniels has also won both games against his old boss in his career, but his defense still isn’t good.
Prediction: Patriots win 30-24
Week 7 – vs. Buffalo Bills
There’s no way around it, the Bills have owned the Patriots over the last three seasons. The Patriots didn’t get anyone in the offseason that should close the gap between the two teams. Though it should be interesting to see how third-round pick Marte Mapu fairs in this matchup if he plays. His athleticism could at least slow down Josh Allen as a runner.
Prediction: Patriots lose 27-21
Week 8 – @ Miami Dolphins
This might be the best time of the year for the Patriots to make a trip to Miami. It’s not early enough that they’re dealing with potential 100-plus degree temps in the humidity, while it’s not late enough in the season where there’s a drastic climate difference between their home city and Miami.
But the Dolphins are still a talented squad. At least talented enough that they should at least split their meetings with the Patriots this season.
Prediction: Patriots lose 23-17
Week 9 – vs. Washington Commanders
After two straight divisional losses, the Patriots get a chance to feast on an unproven quarterback in Week 9. If Sam Howell isn’t starting for the Commanders, Jacoby Brissett will be under center. So, yeah, the Patriots should win this one with ease.
Prediction: Patriots win 35-10
Week 10 – vs. Indianapolis Colts (in Germany)
Similar to the Commanders, the Colts will be playing either a stop-gap QB (Gardner Minshew or Sam Ehlinger) or a rookie quarterback (Anthony Richardson) in this game. We saw how well the Patriots played against the league’s lesser QBs last season and know just how well Bill Belichick does against rookie QBs.
Prediction: Patriots win 31-7
Week 11 – Bye
A good point in the season to have a bye. If they’re 5-5 at this point in the season, that might feel like a mini-win as they can try to push through the post-Thanksgiving stretch to make a playoff push.
Week 12 – @ New York Giants
I’m just not a believer in the Giants repeating what they did last season. I’m also not entirely sold on Daniel Jones being a franchise quarterback. They didn’t make drastic changes at the skill positions either this offseason, so this is a close Patriots win.
Prediction: Patriots win 21-16
Week 13 – vs. Los Angeles Chargers
Justin Herbert has struggled mightily in his two career matchups against the Patriots, throwing four interceptions and fewer than five yards per attempt in two career matchups. The Chargers certainly have a good team, but Belichick gives New England a clear edge in the coaching battle.
Prediction: Patriots win 23-14
Adrian Phillips’ second INT of the day! #ForeverNE
: #NEvsLAC on CBS
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— NFL (@NFL) October 31, 2021
Week 14 – @ Pittsburgh Steelers
This game is a Thursday night battle in a tough road environment. Mike Tomlin always seems to have his Steelers team play their best ball late in the season, never finishing with a record below .500 in his long coaching career.
Prediction: Patriots lose 17-12
Week 15 – vs. Kansas City Chiefs
The defending Super Bowl champs are just way too talented.
Prediction: Patriots lose 31-16
Week 16 – @ Denver Broncos
This was the toughest game for me to predict. Christmas Eve night in a stadium where the Belichick Patriots have struggled to win. Sean Payton has also fared well against the Patriots. But I don’t think Russell Wilson is in line for a major turnaround this season. If he’s limited to playing in the pocket, the Patriots should win.
Prediction: Patriots win 17-13
Week 17 – @ Buffalo Bills
The Bills will likely be in the mix still for home-field advantage in the AFC, giving them fire in what could be a trap spot for them at the end of the regular season.
Prediction: Patriots lose 28-20
Week 18 – vs. New York Jets
From a roster standpoint, I don’t think the Jets are all that much better than New England. It’ll be interesting to see how Rodgers holds up by the end of the season after he injured his thumb last season. I think the Patriots should win at least one matchup against the Jets this season.
Prediction: Patriots win 24-19
Final Patriots record: 9-8
Since Tom Brady’s departure in 2020, the Patriots’ bread and butter has been that they’ve won the games against clearly lesser teams with inexperienced coaches and untalented quarterbacks. They only have a few of those games this season, but they have a handful of games against mediocre or good but not great teams.
New England strengthed its baseline this offseason by rehiring Bill O’Brien and replenishing the special teams unit, which should help in more of those toss-up games this season after they hurt them in similar types of games last season. If the Patriots win the majority of those matchups, they’ll be in the playoffs.
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