The 2018 schedule for the New England Patriots was released last Thursday, and includes many great matchups throughout the course of the year, including one for the ages in early November. Below are the five most intriguing matchups for the upcoming season.
- Texans at Patriots, week one. Deshaun Watson had his way against the Patriots defense in their lone matchup last season, but many wonder how the second-year will look coming off an ACL injury in the season opener. Will he be at 100 percent? Only time will tell. Regardless, this is surely one of the better afternoon games to kick off the year. Many think Houston has what it takes to defeat the defending AFC Champions in week one, but with Brady showing little sign of decline last season, something tells me he’ll have something to say about that.
- Patriots at Jaguars, week two. A tough two games to start the year, as the Patriots travel to Jacksonville for a late afternoon tilt. The Jaguars were up 10 points with under nine minutes to play in last year’s AFC title game, but failed to put away Brady and the Patriots, who rallied for a 24-20 win. If Jacksonville proved anything last year, it’s that they’re legit, and have no reason to not be in contention this upcoming season. There’ll most likely be a revenge factor in this game, and something tells me it’ll be close going into the fourth just like last year.
- Vikings at Patriots, week 13. The Kirk Cousins-led Vikings come in for a late season showdown in Foxborough. If all plays out right, these teams should be in the heart of their respective playoff races. The Vikings touted one of the league’s best defenses last year and found their franchise quarterback in Cousins this offseason. That Vikings front could pose problems for the offensive line of New England, in what will be one of the many in-game matchups to watch in this early December game.
- Patriots at Steelers, week 15. After last season’s epic finish in week 15, a better ending couldn’t be created even if it were scripted. A controversial overturned catch led to a last-second New England interception to seal the game. The Steelers will be out for revenge, considering they never made it to the AFC championship game many thought they’d be in. Although other teams in the AFC have narrowed the gap, the Patriots and Steelers remain the strongest in my eyes. Barring any major injuries, this game could be a deciding factor in who gets home field advantage in the AFC.
- Packers at Patriots, week 9. For only the second time ever, Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady will square off against each other. This matchup has game of the year written all over it. The last time these two teams met, Aaron Rodgers bested Brady by making key plays down the stretch to ensure that the league MVP would not get a chance at a game-winning drive. Something tells me this game is going to end in a similar way. The last team to have the ball could definitely end up being the winner. Either way, the game is going to feature the two best quarterbacks in the league in what could be the last time Brady and Rodgers ever play against each other (fingers crossed they meet in Super Bowl LIII).