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Patriots schedule eases up on defense after facing stretch of elite offenses

The Patriots can take a deep breath.

Houston Texans v New England Patriots Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Even when you remove their games against the New England Patriots, all of New England’s opponents have ranked extremely well in points scored. The Kansas City Chiefs (27.5 ppg when you remove the Patriots game), New Orleans Saints (30.2), Houston Texans (28.8), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (26.2), and Atlanta Falcons (24.2,) would all rank in the top 10 offenses in the league in points scored.

That’s half of the Patriots schedule so far in 2017, with the Carolina Panthers (16.3 without the Patriots game) and New York Jets (20.0) as the other two opponents.

According to NFL research, the schedule eases up on the New England defense for the rest of the season.

The Oakland Raiders are the only team with an above average offense in points scored in 15th place, with the Pittsburgh Steelers close behind in 17th place. The Denver Broncos and Miami Dolphins both rank in the bottom 10.

This isn’t to say the schedule is easy; six of the remaining nine games come against teams ranking 15th-20th. They’re adequate offenses. They’re just not the same high-powered units the Patriots have faced thus far in 2017.

We’ll have to see on Sunday if the injury to LB Dont’a Hightower means that the New England defense will revert back to their early performances, too, because if the Patriots defenders start playing like they did at the start of the year, well, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see all of the Patriots opponents vault into the top 10 in points scored after feasting on New England.