If there's one thing I have learned from paying attention to sports media in the 21st century, it's that there's no better way to cover your ass when making ridiculous claims than to make them under the guise of one of the greatest non-phrases of all time: Bold Predictions.
Seriously - when you use the phrase "Bold Prediction" in the title of your article, you have carte blanche to say pretty much anything you want. Tom Brady getting traded to the Titans? BOLD PREDICTION! Philip Rivers going to the Jets for the number 6 pick? BOLD PREDICTION! Alec Shane going to a bar and actually leaving with a phone number for a change? BOLD PREDICTION! It's pretty great, when you think about it; you have almost zero accountability for anything, you can say anything you want, and if you end up being right, you look like a genius. If you're way off, what did people expect? It's a bold prediction, after all.
So in that vein, I figured I'd do what I do best. With the 2015 NFL schedule set to come out this week, I thought I'd make a series of blind, uneducated, completely ridiculous guesses based upon absolutely nothing- otherwise known as Bold Predictions. Here is how I think the 2015 Patriots schedule is going to play out, week by week, and the absolute non-logic I'm using to predict the order of the opponents.
Week 1, Bills vs. Patriots. This was initially going to be the Steelers coming to New England, but with the impending suspensions of Le'Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount, there isn't as much hype as there could be. But a revamped Bills team, coached by the man whose obsession with the Patriots makes Captain Ahab's pursuit of Moby Dick look like little more than a casual interest, coming to Foxboro to try and put the World Champs in a hole is exactly the kind of game the NFL wants to kick off the 2015 season.
Week 2, Titans vs . Patriots. Games like this one, which are likely to be fairly one-sided, are best played early in the season from a business standpoint - and it is more clear than ever that the only thing the NFL cares about is the bottom line. Get this one out of the way early so there is more room to flex the bigger Pats games to an audience that will help line Goodell's pockets.
Week 3, Patriots at Cowboys. Look for this game to be either a Sunday Night or Monday Night Game, as both of these teams should be well positioned to make a deep playoff run. Pats at Cowboys will be one of the first marquis matchups of the year and a great talking point for the
morons analysts for the major networks as they lambaste the loser and undeservedly extol the winner. This will also be the first of at least three primetime games the Patriots will play in 2015.
Week 4, Patriots at Dolphins. For some reason, the Patriots haven't traveled to Miami in cold weather for some time, much to the chagrin of Boston residents looking for an excuse to get the hell out of the Northeast for a weekend. This year will be no exception, as New England closes out September in Miami and sees how their offensive line holds up against Ndamukong Suh - provided he hasn't been suspended for the year yet.
Week 5, Patriots vs. Redskins. This is another relative throwaway game where the Patriots are likely to win (read: they will play like crap and it will come down to a late Rob Ninkovich interception to secure a 24-20 victory), so it's smart to place it in between some more intriguing matchups so the money train isn't forced to slow down for too long. Maybe Robert Griffin III returns to form and this game has some intrigue as October rolls around, but I don't think anyone is holding their breath.
Week 6, Patriots at Broncos. This will initially be a 4:15 kickoff time, but don't be surprised if it gets flexed into the Sunday Night slot if both teams are white hot and starting to round into playoff shape. The media will do their very best to hype this one up, but the fact of the matter is that the Broncos are a bit of a question mark right now and this game might not carry the weight of the Manning vs. Brady games of yesteryear. At the same time, it might be as epic as ever - hence the flex potential.
Week 7, BYE. New England has had the benefit of some well-placed bye weeks over the past few seasons, and hopefully that won't change too much this year. Week 7 is a bit on the early side for my taste, but it sure as hell beats a week off just over a month into the season.
Week 8, Patriots vs. Jets. Revis Revis Revis Revis Revis Revis Revis Revis Revis Revis Revis. Revis Revis Revis Revis Revis Revis Revis Revis Revis. Revis, then Revis Revis Revis Revis Revis. Storyline Revis Revis Revis Revis Revis Revis Revis Revis Revis.
Week 9, Patriots vs. Eagles. This could sneaky be one of the best games of the year. As of right now, nobody has any clue what Chip Kelly is doing in regards to his team building, but he obviously has some kind of plan in place. Should thinks take shape the way Kelly wants it to, Philly could turn some heads in 2015. Plus, we all know about the Belichick/Kelly relationship and mutual respect, so there might be some intriguing storylines here.
Week 10, Patriots at Colts. This has Monday Night Football written all over it. A potential AFC Championship preview, with homefield advantage potentially on the line, smack dab in the middle of the season, is the kind of game that's ripe for a Monday Night matchup. Both teams are likely to be in the 7-2 or so range around this time, so the stakes will be high on both sides of the line.
Week 11, Patriots vs. Jaguars. This will be a nice break after a pretty rough stretch for New England since they bye and the chance to gear up for another tough strong of opponents.
Week 12, Patriots at Jets. If this is a Thursday Night game, I won't be remotely surprised. By Week 12 we'll all have a very solid sense of who each of these teams are, and this might be New York's Super Bowl and New England's chance to secure yet another AFC East crown well ahead of schedule. And if that's the case, then it makes all the sense in the world for this one to be in primetime.
Week 13, Patriots at Giants. The Patriots take a 42 point lead into the 4th quarter and the Giants still find a way to win when a practice squad callup takes a football to the groin but manages to hold onto it between his legs as he falls over in agony and crosses the goal line for the win. Moving on.
Week 14, Patriots vs. Steelers. If these two teams aren't going to play to open the season, it makes sense to pit them against each other in December as the playoff picture starts to take shape and each win carries even more importance than usual. At this point in the year, not only will the division battles start to heat up, but the fight for seeding will be in full swing as well, and this game could very well decide who gets a first round playoff bye and who has to go out and take on a Wild Card team.
Week 15, Patriots at Texans. A nice late season storyline with Vince Wilfork going up against his old team and Ryan Mallett lining up across from the team that groomed him. The Texans are likely to be out of playoff contention by that point, but you never know, and this could be an intriguing matchup.
Week 16, Patriots vs. Dolphins. If the Pats haven't clinched the AFC East by now, this will be their chance to do so. The Fins might be fighting for their playoff lives at this point, so it could be an incredibly meaningful game for both sides.
Week 17, Patriots at Bills. The NFL loves finishing out the regular season with divisional games, and pitting the Patriots against the 2nd best team in the AFC makes all the sense in the world. Ideally, this game will be meaningless for the Patriots, but the Bills have a legit shot at taking a Wild Card slot this year, and so it's likely that their playoffs will have already started by the time kickoff rolls around. A great storyline would be whether the Pats rest their starters or play hard in order to keep Buffalo out of the postseason yet again.
What I don't like about this Bold Prediction is that it doesn't give New England too many chances to make an extended home stand and puts them on the road a lot. What I do like about it is that it spaces out their big-time games and allows them to have a very solid sense of what's expected of them at each point in the season. Not that any of that matters anyway, as the moment the official schedule comes out I'm going to look like a total idiot. Luckily for me, I'm well versed in that particular public perception.