With AFC divisions locking up yesterday, we were able to determine the Patriots opponents for the 2014 season. The Patriots are lined up to face the AFC division winners, as well as the AFC West and the NFC North. Beyond the normal home-and-home against the AFC East, the Patriots get to look forward to:
Cincinnati Bengals - The Patriots are fortunate to face one of their more potent opponents at home. Bengals feature a strong defense and have a young offense that will only be better next season.
Denver Broncos - Peyton Manning and the Broncos have to travel to Gillette, again. Crazy how this works out. Definitely in the Pats favor.
Oakland Raiders - Oakland is a team in flux, so this should be a game the Patriots should be ready for.
Chicago Bears - The Bears have one of the best offensive units in the league, although their defense has been abysmal. Expect this to be a shoot out.
Detroit Lions - The Lions team is built to take down the Patriots. They have an explosive defensive front four and a big passing game. Should be a dog fight.
Indianapolis Colts - The Patriots have to travel to the Oil Drum to face a Colts team that will be much healthier than they've been this season. The Colts have shown a tendency to play to the level of their competition and should absolutely hold their own.
Kansas City Chiefs - Chiefs hold one of the best home field advantages and crowds. Should be a battle.
San Diego Chargers - San Diego can beat and lose to any team. The Patriots can't let them hang around and it should be a fun game to watch.
Green Bay Packers - Lambeau Field is an incredible location and Bill Belichick will ensure the team reveres the legacy...and leave with a win. Should be one of the highlight games of the season and wouldn't be surprised to see the league place it in the third quarter of the schedule.
Minnesota Vikings - The Vikings might have Matt Cassel at quarterback, which would make this a fun storyline to see play out.
The Patriots look to have a fairly favorable schedule. Splitting the Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers games as home-and-away clears up any favor the Patriots might have in their schedule. One could argue that the two best AFC division leads (Broncos and Bengals) having to come to New England is a positive and I wouldn't argue against that.
In all, it looks like a relatively fair schedule that should have the Patriots fighting for seeding late into the year.