The absence of Tom Brady is one reason New England’s streak of winning the AFC East Division could come to an end. The New England Patriots’ strength of schedule in 2020 — ranked the hardest in the NFL — is another.
Of course, basing a team’s SOS solely on how their opponents performed in the year prior isn’t the be-all and end-all. At the same time, having the toughest schedule in the league on paper doesn’t bode well, either.
Let’s dissect the Patriots’ schedule and find out exactly what Bill Belichick and his crew are up against.
How Difficult Will the Patriots’ 2020 Schedule Be?
According to the .537 winning percentage accrued by the Patriots opposition last season, it’s the hardest schedule in the National Football League. However, keep in mind that pitting the AFC East up against the NFC West has a lot to do with that (the four teams in the NFC West were 38-25-1 in 2019).
Case in point — the Bills, Jets, and Dolphins are also staring at one of the five toughest schedules in 2020.
The Patriots have back-to-back games in Los Angeles looming, along with a trip to Arrowhead Stadium, where they could be a double-digit underdog.
If that’s not tough enough, the Pats’ brutal mid-season stretch also includes a Sunday night game versus Baltimore followed by a road test at Houston.
Facing the Broncos in Denver in week 5 won’t be easy, nor is a trip to Houston to battle the Texans in week 11. Nevertheless, these tilts barely scratch the surface when it comes to the Patriots’ hardest games in 2020.
There are two powerhouse teams in the AFC — the Chiefs and the Ravens — and New England plays them both.
I envision the Pats struggling to move the chains in week 7 against the 49ers, but I think they’ll have an even harder time sustaining drives the following week in Buffalo.
Let’s not forget that playing the Chargers and the Rams on a Thursday/Sunday in week 13 and week 14 means New England will have to stay in Los Angeles for an extended period of time. And keep in mind that they play at Miami in week 15, meaning New England won’t play at home between November 29th and December 28th.
It’s a good thing the Pats are slated to play the Jets and the Dolphins twice apiece. With that being said, it’ll take a lot more than emerging from those games unscathed if Bill Belichick is going to be an NFL Coach of the Year candidate.
Facing an opponent from the AFC North and one from the AFC South isn’t the end of the world, although the NFL didn’t do Belichick any favors when they scheduled New England to play the Ravens and the Texans.
Had those games been booked against Cincinnati and Jacksonville, we could be looking at the Patriots’ strength of schedule in 2020 with glass-half-full optimism.
Instead, this glass is half-empty.
As a former Division I collegiate golfer, Michael Wynn loves writing about golf. He's also an expert in most of America's most popular sports, writing extensively for GamblingSites.com on football, basketball, and baseball.
Michael's a Las Vegas native and has been with the company since 2017.