Remember that whole deal about the Patriots having the easiest schedule in the league?
Well, we were warned when the schedule was released this past April that things aren’t always as they seem in the NFL. We were told then that, hey, maybe the NFC West isn’t so bad and that maybe the Jets, Bills and even Dolphins will give the Pats a run for their money in the division this year. Hell, maybe that Week 2 game against the Cardinals will be a tough one.
New England sighed a collective “nahhh” at those statements.
But here we are. Three weeks into the true season of football parity and horrific referees, the NFL is not the same as we left it back in February.
Suddenly, the Patriots have a regular season road game in Week 4 that is a must win (Sunday at Buffalo). Beating the Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium is no gimme. You’ll remember Week 3 last year, when Buffalo picked off Tom Brady four times on its way to a 34-31 victory.
The Patriots will be fighting just to get back to .500 this Sunday. After a showdown with the still dangerous Peyton Manning and the Broncos in Week 5, the Pats begin to face the previously disregarded members of the NFC West.
This division was thought to be completely top-heavy, with San Francisco owning an easy path to the West crown. Instead, the Cardinals have jumped out to a 3-0 record and have arguably the best defense in the league. The ‘Niners, who the Patriots play on Dec. 16 at Gillette, own a not-so-shabby defensive unit as well.
The Patriots will play at Seattle on Oct. 14. That game is a decided coin-flip at this time, given the way New England reacts to a loud crowd (what was with that botched snap against the Ravens?). Even St. Louis (1-2), now under the guidance of Jeff Fisher is righting the ship.
The Patriots still have their full AFC East slate remaining and none of those games are ever certain.
If there are any sure wins left on the schedule, one would point to home against Indy on Nov. 18 and at Jacksonville on Dec. 23. But we know better by now than to look months ahead.
The Patriots “easiest schedule in the league,” suddenly looks daunting.