|Notes and Observations Week 15: Patriots Blow Out Dolphins 41-13; Clinch AFC East||Connelly’s Top Ten: Patriots Defense, Special Teams Carry Home Team||Fantasy Football Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em: Week 15||Right Idea? Red Sox Bring in Rick Porcello, Wade Miley, Justin Masterson|
I know most of you waited with baited breath for ESPN’s special on the release of the NFL schedule last night…or not. The Pats already knew who they would play, the release of the schedule puts dates – and more importantly times – to all those games. We already knew going in that the Pats would be playing the Buccaneers on October 24 in London. Here’s the rest of the 2009 schedule and some thoughts:
Sept. 14 (Monday) — vs. Buffalo (7 p.m., ESPN) – T.O.’s debut on Monday night
Sept. 20 – at N.Y. Jets (1 p.m., CBS) – Chance for revenge for choking against Miami in last year’s finale
Sept. 27 – vs. Atlanta (1 p.m., Fox) – Prodigal BC son Matt Ryan makes his return to the Commonwealth
Oct. 4 – vs. Baltimore (1 p.m., CBS) – Third home game out of the first four
Oct. 11 – at Denver (4:15 p.m., CBS) – All eyes on the post game handshake with Josh McDaniels
Oct. 18 – vs. Tennessee (4:15 p.m., CBS) – Fourth home game in first six games, Vince Young still on bench
Oct. 25 — at Buccaneers (in London, 1 p.m., CBS) – God Save the Queen!
Nov. 1 — BYE – Significant that the bye week is more in the middle of the season, can only help
Nov. 8 – vs. Miami (1 p.m., CBS) – The Wildcat invades Foxboro, hopeful to repeat last year’s result
Nov. 15 – at Indianapolis (8:20 p.m., NBC) - Sunday night game, why do we seemingly play AT Indy every season?
Nov. 22 – vs. N.Y. Jets (4:15 p.m., CBS) – Trip to the Meadlowlands is never easy
Nov. 30 (Monday) – at New Orleans (8:30 p.m., ESPN) – Second Monday night game, this one against a tough Drew Brees and co.
Dec. 6 – at Miami (8:20 p.m., NBC) – The Pats usually have a lot of trouble in Miami regardless of record
Dec. 13 – vs. Carolina (1 p.m., Fox) – I wonder if Chris Weinke is still kickin around?
Dec. 20 – at Buffalo (1 p.m., CBS) – Third road game outta four, T.O. redux
Dec. 27 – vs. Jacksonville (1 p.m., CBS) – A slimmed down David Garrard may have Jacksonville in playoff position
Jan. 3 – at Houston (1 p.m., CBS) – A game to rest the starters before the bye, hopefully
Thoughts: Going by the records of last year the Patriots have the third hardest schedule in the NFL. But as we’ve seen over the past few years, that means little or nothing at this point. The draft, free agency, trades and injuries all can affect how teams will be made up when the Pats play them. I think the bye is in a good place right after the London game and it’s good that there are no west coast trips. The Patriots can jump out to an early division lead with a couple of home games early on. The only thing that worries me is the four outta six road games to end the year, though last year it didn’t seem to phase the team.
It’s too early to predict a record, but there are no glaring spots on the schedule where the Pats could conceivably lose a few in a row. Kind of disappointed we won’t be able to play Pittsburgh until the playoffs. What are your thoughts?