New England Patriots Links 4/20/11 - Patriots 2011 NFL Schedule: Tough But Winnable

Andy Hart gives his initial reaction to the newly-released Patriots 2011 schedule, and how he thinks they"ll do.

The meat of the Patriots 2011 schedule is in truly the meat of the season – the eight game stretch from Oct. 9 through Dec. 4 that kicks off hosting the Jets, concludes with a Sunday night game at Gillette against the Colts and in between has the team taking on the Cowboys, Steelers, Giants, Jets again, Chiefs and Eagles. That’s two games against their top AFC East competition, tough trips to Pittsburgh and Philly, home contests with the Giants and Chiefs as well as what should be resurgent Dallas squad. Of the eight games, six are against 2010 playoff teams, while the Giants were a 10-win team a year ago.

If New England successfully navigates the tough middle of the season, things theoretically lighten up down the stretch. The final four games are trips two Washington and Denver followed by hosting division foes Miami and Buffalo.  If the postseason is still on the line at that point, a four-game winning streak to end the year certainly wouldn’t be out of the question.

Mike Reiss offers his initial reaction to the Patriots 2011 schedule.  Here are a few of them:

Cowboys lone opponent coming off a bye. The Cowboys will be coming off a bye before traveling to face the Patriots, which means they should be fresh for that Week 6 matchup. The Cowboys are the only team coming off a bye to face the Patriots this season.

Weather test in Miami. The Patriots open the season on Monday night (Sept. 12) at the Dolphins. Temperatures in South Florida at that time of year can be challenging, even at night. This brings back memories of the 2004 season when the Patriots played at Arizona in Week 2 of the season and Bill Belichick made constant references to conditioning in the weeks leading up to the game.

First Jets game a good spot. The Jets will be coming off road games at Oakland and Baltimore when they visit the Patriots in Week 5. That's a good spot for New England.

Ian Rapoport gives us a few of his thoughts on the Patriots schedule for this season.

– I thought last year’s schedule was extremely tough, and the Pats ended up 14-2. This time, I’d characterize the slate as very fair. Opponents have a combined record of 129-127, which is 16th toughest. Not bad.

– For those who like holidays, you should be thrilled. There is no road game at Buffalo on Christmas and no Thanksgiving game in Detroit. There are no Thursday games at all. On Christmas Eve, the Pats are home against Dolphins at 1 p.m., which could have you home for presents (if that’s when you do them). Still, the Jan. 1 home game against the Bills at 1 p.m. means hangover hell for a bunch of you.

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