The New England Patriots have made the most of a soft opening schedule with a 6-0 start. A strong defense has led the way, but a closer look might lead fans to feel like the perennially powerful Pats just haven’t played anyone yet. Their schedule for the rest of the season is only slightly tougher. New England may already be playing for home field in the playoffs.
For years, New England has been known for their offense led by Tom Brady. Coach Bill Belichick has put mostly interchangeable parts around his star quarterback. But this year, it’s the defense leading the team. The Pats have the #1 ranked defense in the NFL through the first five games. They are first against the pass, allowing 161 yards per game. They are also third against the run, allowing only 78 yards a game. Plus they are giving up only 6.8 points per game, which leads their closest defensive rival, the Chicago Bears, by a full touchdown.
The Thursday night win over the Giants showed that the short week could slow down the Patriots for a few quarters, but not defeat them. Thursday night, the defense accounted for three interceptions and two touchdowns. The game totals against the New York Giants were only 52 yards allowed rushing, and the Pats exact season average of 161 yards in passing defense. On offense, Brady had 334 yards passing to go with two, 1-yard touchdowns. New England entered the game a 17-point favorite, and won by 21.
Patriots Schedule To Date
Week 1: New England 33 — Pittsburgh Steelers 3 [1-4] [opponent’s current record]
Week 2: New England 43 — Miami Dolphins 0 [0-4]
Week 3: New England 30 — New York Jets 14 [0-4]
Week 4: New England 16 — Buffalo Bills 10 [4-1]
Week 5: New England 33 — Washington Redskins 7 [0-5]
Week 6: New England 35 — New York Giants 14 [2-4]
-combined record of first six rivals thru Thursday [7-22]
Patriots Schedule Weeks 7-17
Week 7: @ New York Jets [0-4]
Week 8: Cleveland Browns [2-3]
Week 9: @ Baltimore Ravens [3-2]
Week 10: Bye
Week 11: @ Philadelphia Eagles [3-2]
Week 12: Dallas Cowboys [3-2]
Week 13: @ Houston Texans [3-2]
Week 14: Kansas City Chiefs [4-1]
Week 15: @ Cincinnati Bengals [0-5]
Week 16: Buffalo Bills [0-4]
Week 17: Miami Dolphins [0-4]
-combined current record of all 16 opponents [25-51]
The AFC East
There is no doubt the Patriots success over the years has a lot to do with playing in the AFC East. The Miami Dolphins and New York Jets are winless and, in the case of the Dolphins, tanking the season. The Buffalo Bills are stronger this year, and could be a possible wild-card team but, over the years, the division has been perennially weak, much to the Patriots advantage. Because of weak opponents, the Patriots have won the division 16 of the last 18 years.