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5 Patriots games to look forward to in 2018

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It’s not too early to start anticipating a few 2018 showdowns, right? Didn’t think so.

Divisional Round - Tennessee Titans v New England Patriots
The 2018 NFL season is only ... seven months away.
Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

The NFL offseason is just over two weeks old. That means those of us who write about football on a regular basis are desperately looking for ideas and topics to write about since there aren’t any games, or really anything exciting that is related to the NFL, going on right now. Man, the offseason stinks.

So, since I’m already counting down the weeks to the 2018 season basically the same way that children count down the weeks until Christmas, or their birthdays, or any special event in which they receive gifts, I suppose it would be a good idea to write about the matchups that Patriots fans should most be looking forward to. The official schedule has not been released yet, but we do know the opponents the Pats will be playing in 2018. I suppose that’s enough for now.

In addition to the six divisional games against the Jets, Bills and Dolphins (those games are always a blast), there are five teams going up against New England next year that stood out. Without further ado …

Patriots vs. Chiefs – Gillette Stadium

Not really a rivalry here, but it’s always interesting for me whenever the Pats play Kansas City because I actually have a couple friends who are Chiefs fans. Due to that, the last few years have been a bit rough. Even though New England eliminated Kansas City in the divisional round of the 2015 playoffs, the Chiefs have handed the Pats epic beat downs twice in the last four seasons.

There was the Monday Night Massacre game at Arrowhead Stadium in Week 4 of the 2014 season. The final score? Chiefs 41, Patriots 14. Tom Brady got the bejeezus beat out of him and was intercepted twice, while Alex Smith threw for almost 250 yards and three touchdowns. The worst part? I never even slightly saw this brutal defeat coming. And I didn’t hear the end of it from my Chiefs fan friends all season. Even after the Pats won Super Bowl 49 a few months later, they just kept reminding me of Week 4.

Kansas City Chiefs v Denver Broncos
Will Patrick Mahomes have New England’s number the same way Alex Smith did?
Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

And then there was last year’s season opener in Foxboro, the night the Patriots were raising their Super Bowl 51 banner. The final score? Chiefs 42, Patriots 27. Brady only completed 16 of 36 passes, didn’t throw a single touchdown, and was sacked three times. Just an all-around lackluster performance. Meanwhile, Smith threw for almost 400 yards and four touchdowns, which catapulted my friends into hardcore “Smith is so much better than Brady!!!!” mode. They kill me.

The 2018 meeting between New England and Kansas City will definitely be noted on my calendar. Since Alex Smith, the guy who is “so much better than Brady,” was traded to the Redskins a few weeks ago and will be succeeded by youngster Patrick Mahomes, maybe the Pats will have a chance to beat them this year.

Patriots vs. Jaguars – EverBank Field (soon-to-be TIAA Bank Field)

Typically I wouldn’t care about watching any game that involves the Jacksonville Jaguars, but after this year’s AFC Championship Game – an absolute thriller of a football game in which Blake Bortles almost outplayed Tom Brady in Foxboro, but the best QB of all time led the Pats back to escape with a 24-20 win – I can’t help but be a little bit intrigued.

The Patriots’ biggest weakness has always been ferocious defenses that terrorize the heck out of Brady. Jacksonville has one of those defenses, and that’s the biggest reason they were in the AFC Championship Game. They also have an offense that revolves around one of the most promising young running backs in the NFL, Leonard Fournette. The only question for Jacksonville is … can Bortles keep producing the magic he produced in the 2017 playoffs? It’s hard to tell, considering how atrociously awful he’s been for much of his career.

Nevertheless, it will still be a rematch of the AFC title game, and those are always fun.

AFC Championship - Jacksonville Jaguars v New England Patriots
Get the ball in the hands of Leonard Fournette and the Jacksonville offense can be pretty dangerous.
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Patriots vs. Colts – Gillette Stadium

The rivalry between the Patriots and Colts might not have the same glamour as it once did, when Brady and Peyton Manning were going head-to-head. But there’s still some hatred here. The Colts kicked off the whole Deflategate debacle a few years ago during the 2014 playoffs, causing one of the most agitating and annoying eras in the history of New England football. And it makes sense, because when the Patriots are constantly winning games against you by roughly 30 points, there’s bound to be some bitterness.

The rivalry received a little bit of a spark a few weeks ago, however, when Josh McDaniels accepted the Colts head coaching position, then suddenly backed out a few hours later to return to New England as offensive coordinator. Now the Colts and their fans can’t wait to get revenge on the Patriots. Good luck.

Personally, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to stop hating the Colts. Maybe Andrew Luck will actually play in this game. The last time he played, I think I was still going through puberty.

Patriots vs. Steelers – Heinz Field

Since the Steelers missed out on the chance to face the Pats in the AFC title game, you can bet Pittsburgh fans will be anxiously anticipating this game. Many of them felt that they were “screwed” when the Pats and Steelers met in Week 15 last season, after the officials overturned a game-winning touchdown catch by Jesse James. Believe it or not, James actually didn’t have control of the ball, seeing as how it was on the ground and everything. The correct call was made, it was declared an incomplete pass instead of a touchdown, the Patriots escaped the ‘Burgh with a 27-24 win, and Steelers fans started whining more than a toddler who got his favorite toy taken away.

New England Patriots v Pittsburgh Steelers
Sorry, Jesse James, but it’s not a catch if the ball is on the ground.
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

If there is any non-divisional team that the Patriots could call a serious rival right now, it would be the Steelers. The boos will be ringing ever so loudly at Heinz Field when Brady and the Pats arrive next season. I can’t wait.

Patriots vs. Packers – Gillette Stadium

This is the only inter-conference game on New England’s schedule that actually looks interesting. The Pats will be playing the NFC North in 2018. The Bears? Bleh. The Lions? Super bleh, even though Matt Patricia will be coaching them. The Vikings? Incredibly overrated team that was pretty lucky to even be in the NFC Championship Game last year.

But the Packers? Now there’s a fun showdown. Tom Brady versus Aaron Rodgers, the two best quarterbacks in the NFL. It’s really a bummer that those two guys haven’t met in a Super Bowl yet.

Maybe next year?