Football is less than 5 months away, and the New England Patriots now know when to make their hotel reservations.
While we’ve already known for some time who the Super Bowl champions will be defending their title against, the league has finally come out with the official schedule. Fans should get excited – the Patriots take center stage and host the Steelers in the first game of the NFL season.
More from New England Patriots
- Former Patriot Stevan Ridley Put Kevin Hart in a Wheelchair
- 3 Patriots Who Can Clinch a Roster Spot in Final Preseason Game
- Patriots Get Win Over Division Rivals Before Season Even Begins
- New Massachusetts Sportsbook Promos: $450 Bonus to Bet on Your Patriots at Caesars + DraftKings
- Ezekiel Elliott Reveals 3 Reasons Why He Signed With Patriots
Week 1: Pittsburgh Steelers (9/10) Home, 8:30 p.m. – The Patriots get to host the opening game for the NFL in a ‘battle of the aging teams’ contest. The Steelers had the second best offense in the league last year as they averaged 411.1 ypg, per NFL.com. Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell all had pro bowl years, and all three players placed in the top two for yards gained at their positions. They did have three core defensive players – Ike Taylor, Troy Polamalu and Jason Worilds – retire, which could hinder their play on that side of the ball. Tom Brady is getting older, but his accuracy isn’t declining any time soon. Look for Brady to show the league that he ages like fine wine in this ultimate prime time matchup.
Mar 10, 2015; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy poses with a Bills helmet in the AD Pro training facility after a press conference at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports
Week 2: Buffalo Bills (9/20) Away, 1 p.m. – Rex Ryan moved upstate this offseason, meaning that Patriots fans still get to see him twice a year. The new look Bills solidified their offense with offseason acquisitions like Lesean McCoy, Percy Harvin and Charles Clay. The loss of Kiko Alonso may mean that their defense will struggle to contain the Patriots high scoring offense, but it remains to be seen how the defensively minded Ryan will impact the Bill’s defense that ranked fourth last year in yards allowed on defense, giving up only 312.2 ypg. Brady boasts a 23-3 career record against the Bills – the most wins against any team he’s played against.
Week 3: Jacksonville Jaguars (9/27) Home, 1 p.m. – The Jaguars must be one of the only teams excited that the NFL suspended their blackout policy for this upcoming season. Blake Bortles will enter his second year leading an exceptionally awful offensive team that ranked 31rst with an underwhelming 290 ypg last year. The Jags signed Julius Thomas to a five year deal and picked up Bernard Pierce off of waivers, but I don’t think that will be enough to give this team the boost they need. Look for the defending super bowl champions to cruise to an easy victory this week.
Week 4: BYE
Week 5: Dallas Cowboys (10/11) Away, 4:25 p.m. – The Patriots get to go to Jerry World to take on Tony Romo and the Murray-less Cowboys in this match up. While the Cowboys lost Murray to the Eagles, they still retained the service of Dez Bryant and even found extra cash to sign Greg Hardy to their aging defense. The Cowboys play a similar playing style as the Patriots – they score a lot, and let up a lot of touchdowns. This game is a shootout in the making.
Jan 18, 2015; Foxborough, MA, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) throws a pass against the New England Patriots in the second quarter in the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
Week 6: Indianapolis Colts (10/18) Away, 8:30 p.m. – It’s hard to take the Colts seriously after Bill Belichick and Brady handed them embarrassing losses last year, but Andrew Luck is the best young quarterback in the game and with acquisitions in the form of Andre Johnson, Frank Gore and Trent Cole, look for this team to be hungry for wins. The Colts offense averaged 406.6 ypg last year – they’ll try to stay in the top 3 again this year as Ty Hilton is geared to really develop as a deep threat.
Week 7: New York Jets (10/25) Home, 1 p.m. – Rex Ryan is out and Todd Bowles is in. The Jets cleaned house this offseason and brought in huge names like Brandon Marshall and Darelle Revis. Their offense looks good on the surface, with Marshall and Eric Decker set to complement Stevan Ridley and a ‘starter-to-be-named-later’ at quarterback. The Jets will run into the same problems they had last year if they can’t nab Marcus Mariota in the draft next week. With no real leader at the helm, their supposed all-star offense will flounder. Revis and Cromartie could prove to be trouble for Brady down the road but, for now, much remains to be seen how the Jets will play this year.
Mar 11, 2015; Davie, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh (right) poses with Dolphins owner Stephen Ross (left) after a press conference at Doctors Hospital Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Week 8: Miami Dolphins (10/29) Home, 8:25 p.m. – The Dolphins are long overdue for a winning record. They’ve gone 8-8 the past two seasons, and haven’t finished over .500 since Chad Pennington was at the helm in 2008. The AFC East is crowded with talent this year, and the ‘fins are no exception. They acquired arguably the best asset in the market this offseason in Ndamukong Suh, and also bolstered their offense with weapons like Jordan Cameron and Kenny Stills. They parted with a lot of key players that helped them be an average team last year, like Mike Wallace and Randy Starks. Look for this game to be a ‘changing of the guard’, as Brady will have to show Tannehill that there’s only room for one team on top of the division.
Dec 28, 2014; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III (10) prepares for the snap against the Dallas Cowboys during the first half at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Week 9: Washington Redskins (11/8) Home, 1 p.m. – The Redskins finished last season in the middle of the pack on offense, with a respectable 358.6 ypg. I want to say this will be a great showdown between Brady and Robert Griffin III, but who knows if RG3 will even be playing at this point? The former second overall pick will have to prove his worth this season if he wants to stay in the NFL, and he needs to be healthy to do so. The Redskins picked up various pieces like Terrance Knighton, Chris Culliver and DaShon Goldson this offseason, but it has yet to be seen how they will come together as a whole. The Redskins have surrounded RG3 with all the talent he needs in Desean Jackson, Alfred Morris and big tight ends like Jordan Reed and Niles Paul, now it’s up to him to make it all come together.
Week 10: New York Giants (11/15) Away, 4:25 p.m. – If you don’t hold a passionate hatred for the team that stole a perfect season from the Patriots, you may want to consider being a fan of another football team. The Giants have had some wicked football karma the last few seasons as they’ve been absolutely dreadful with Eli Manning running the offense. Their lone bright spot is Odell Beckham Jr. – a receiver that took the sports world by storm with his sensational one handed catches. This will be a reunion game for Shane Vereen, who was seen as expendable by the Patriots this offseason. Besides Vereen, the Giants stayed under the radar for their free agent signings, picking up few notable names and mostly career role players. It will be interesting to see how this game plays out, but Manning’s turnover rate should make it an easy win for the Patriots.
Week 11: Buffalo Bills (11/23) Home, 8:30 p.m. – See Bills, above.
Jan 11, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) throws a pass during the NFL divisional playoff game against the Indianapolis Colts at Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium. The Colts defeated the Broncos 24-13. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Week 12: Denver Broncos (11/29) Away, 8:30 p.m. – The Broncos will line up with Gary Kubiak on the sidelines as head coach, but don’t let that distract you from their actual strategy – give the ball to Peyton. The Broncos lost key players like Julius Thomas and Terrance Knighton this offseason, and really didn’t do much to replace them. Their offense is still a force to be reckoned with, and Emmanuel Sanders or Demaryius Thomas could put up 42 points a night if given the opportunity. The Patriots may struggle to keep up with them now that they’re short on talent in the cornerback position, forcing the offense to keep up with their high rate of scoring.
Week 13: Philadelphia Eagles (12/6) Home, 4:25 p.m. – Chip Kelly proved this offseason that he feels any player can be succeed in his system, as he replaced Nick Foles, LeSean McCoy and Jeremy Maclin, with Sam Bradford, Demarco Murray and Miles Austin. The Eagles are a completely different team this year, and it’s hard to predict whether or not all these changes will work out the way Kelly wants them to. Walter Thurmond and Murray will have to prove whether or not they were worth big money this offseason, and the three way battle for quarterback should be an interesting storyline to follow as we near preseason. Could we see Tim Tebow start a game this season? My initial inclinations tell me no, but after this offseason, who knows what Kelly has up his sleeve for 2015.
Dec 21, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt (99) rushes against Baltimore Ravens tackle James Hurst (74) during the game at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Week 14: Houston Texans (12/13) Away, 1 p.m. – We really have yet to see the full effect of the tandem of J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney playing together. If Clowney can put together a healthy season, the Texans could cause some real trouble for some playoff hopeful teams. The Texans released long time wide out Andre Johnson in favor of giving young gun Deandre Hopkins more chances to catch the ball. Patriots veteran Vince Wilfork signed with the team this offseason, and it should be a good reunion game for him. Is it possible for Watt to build off his 20.5 sack season last year? Yes. Don’t expect anything but excellence from the 2014 Defensive Player of the Year. The Texans will rely on their stout defense to keep them in the ball game, so look for this one to stay close.
Week 15: Tennessee Titans (12/20) Home, 1 p.m. – The Titans have been relatively quiet this offseason – their biggest news came from the retirement of their quarterback Jake Locker. Should the Titans take Mariota with the second pick in the draft, weapons like Justin Hunter and Kendall Wright should immediately make an impact. They made some decent pickups, like Brian Orapko and Brandon Harris, but also some real pedestrian signings in Harry Douglas and Da’Norris Searcy. The Titans are still a rebuilding team, and shouldn’t pose too much of a threat to the Patriots.
Week 16: New York Jets (12/27) Away, 1 p.m. – See Jets, above.
Week 17: Miami Dolphins (1/3) Away, 1 p.m. – See Dolphins, above.