It has taken some time for New England Patriots fans used to not being a perennial Super Bowl contender, but that’s starting to sink in as the reality, and we can start to turn a more realistic lens onto our seasons.
This year, making the playoffs would be a positive result for the Pats, and anything beyond that would be gravy. In fact, oddsmakers think even a postseason appearances is a long shot.
If the Pats want to exceed expectations and make a playoff push it’s going to take pulling off some key wins in difficult spots.
With that in mind, here are New England’s three biggest must-win games on the 2023 schedule.
Patriots’ Biggest Must-Win Games
1. Week 2 vs. Miami Dolphins
It’s hard to tell who the Patriots’ easiest AFC East opponent will be this season, but early projections have it being the Miami Dolphins. And that means they can’t afford to drop this Week 2 meeting, since it all gets more difficult from here.
Playing Miami in Foxboro makes this the softer of the two Dolphins matchups, and both Jets and Both Bills games project to be more difficult than either meeting with the ‘Phins. So this is simply not a game the Pats can afford to lose. You’re not even going to sniff the playofs without at least managing a couple of divisional wins, and with the AFC East looking like the toughest division in the conference, that array of wins must include one here.
Considering the Pats’ most likely playoff path is through the Wild Card, getting a big win here is especially important because the Dolphins may be in contention for the same spot by the end of the season, and holding an edge in the tiebreak could be the difference between making or missing the playoffs.