The Patriots schedule features plenty of intriguing match-ups, but none are more exciting than these five.
5) Week 13 Eagles
How can you not be excited to play against Chip Kelly? The NFL wanted the Eagles on prime time in Week 1 because of how much noise they made this off-season. They've traded away their top players and starting quarterback. They signed Frank Gore for two hours. They brought in Tim Tebow. They could still possibly trade up in the draft to acquire rookie prospect Marcus Mariota. There are so many story lines.
And even with so many roster moves, this game would be about Bill Belichick versus Chip Kelly. The grand master versus the wiz kid. Belichick and Kelly are friends, with the Patriots head coach reaching out to Kelly while the latter was still in the college ranks for advice on establishing the hurry-up offense. This is a complete chess match.
4) Week 5 at Cowboys
The Cowboys were possibly a bad ruling of a catch/drop away from facing the Seahawks in the 2014 NFC Championship game. They could have beaten Seattle again. They could've faced the Patriots in the Super Bowl. They have stars on the offensive line, at quarterback in Tony Romo, at tight end in Jason Witten, and at wide receiver in Dez Bryant. Their defense really improved last season.
But this will be a complete battle of two of the top teams in the NFL, with the Patriots fortunate enough to be coming out of their bye week. New England will be ready.
3) Week 1 Steelers
What could be more run than raising a championship banner? Sure, the Steelers will be without running back Le'Veon Bell, who made up, no lie, over a third of the Steelers 2014 offensive production. That is a major loss. Add in a potentially disgruntled Antonio Brown and the Patriots and their unsettled defense might be catching a strong offense at the exact right time.
Tom Brady also loves to play the Steelers and he thrashes them every single time. The Steelers will be featuring one of their weakest defenses in the Belichick era, so this should be a firework display.
2) Week 12 at Broncos
Peyton Manning vs Tom Brady, Round 17. This fight is over and Brady won by knock-out. Rob Gronkowski is going to throw him out of the club. This is an important match-up because it could be the last between the two greatest quarterbacks of the past twenty-five years.
But even so, the Patriots winning the Super Bowl kind of took the edge away from this match-up. There's no comparison anymore, and now it's more a waiting game for Manning to retire. This game will be the finale for Thanksgiving Weekend and everyone will be watching. Let's hope it's a good show.
1) Week 6 at Colts
This game transcends the field. This is about revenge, this is about honor, and this is about the complete and total annihilation of the Indianapolis organization. Bill Belichick will try and score a Wilt Chamberlain if he can.
That said, this might actually be more of a fight than in seasons past. It's the second game of a road trip. It would be nice for New England to embarrass the Colts, but a win will do.
Rex Ryan is omitted for the same reason as always; if the Patriots win, it's because they were supposed to. If New England loses, it's a full onslaught of hot air from Rex. It's a no-win situation.