Patriots 2019 schedule thoughts, including NFL, networks getting things right


The NFL schedule officially will be released Wednesday night, but thanks to The Athletic, we found out the complete Patriots schedule ahead of time.

The most notable thing is the Week 1 matchup against the Steelers. Many thought it would be the Browns, Chiefs or even Cowboys in the Sunday night opener, but it’s a familiar foe in Pittsburgh.

Also, the Patriots have a long stretch of games not at 1 p.m. From Weeks 6-14, the team does not have a single 1 p.m. start time.

Here are some more thoughts on the schedule.

— The NFL and the networks got things right when it comes to the marquee games. Playing the Browns in Week 1 would have essentially wasted that game, as the opener is going to draw a huge audience no matter who the opponent. And the same goes for the Chiefs and Cowboys. A division game against the Jets wouldn't have been great, so why not have the Steelers? This made a lot of sense despite not many bringing it up.

— The other two real marquee games on the schedule are the Browns and Chiefs, which will both be 4:25 p.m. starts. The Browns game will be Week 8 and the Chiefs game will be Week 14. The Week 14 game potentially could have some big-time playoff implications, while the Week 8 meeting with the Browns could be great, especially if Cleveland gets off to a good start. Considering these games both aren’t in primetime, it’s likely CBS protected them. 

— Overall, it’s a fairly easy start to the year with a bunch of familiar opponents and some teams who are expected to struggle. It would not be a surprise at all to see the team 7-0 or 6-1 heading into Week 8’s matchup with Cleveland.

— The bye week comes at a good time, just a few weeks past the midway point in Week 10, and in between two road games. The Patriots also essentially get a second bye week early in the year between Week 6 and 7. Week 6 they host the Giants on Thursday Night Football and then don’t play again until the following Monday night in New York against the Jets.

— After having three back-to-back road games in 2018, the Patriots only have one set this coming year and that is Weeks 4 and 5 when they are at Buffalo and at Washington. They also don’t have a brutal stretch of games on the road like recent ones where they had tough four out of five and five out of six-game stretches.

— In terms of the toughest stretch of games, it has to be from Week 8 to Week 14 when they will face Cleveland, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Dallas, Houston and Kansas City. Five out of the six teams made the playoffs last year, and the only team that didn’t was the Browns, who arguably were one of the hottest teams in the NFL at the end of the year.

— It does not include a lot of traveling, as the furthest the team will need to go is Houston on Dec. 1. That is the only time over the course the year where they will travel outside the Eastern time zone.

— For the first time in several years, the Patriots will not play in Miami during the month of December. Given the results there, this may not be a bad thing, but it also means they will have to deal with the Miami heat in September (Week 2). They got a first-hand look at what it might be last year when they played in Jacksonville Week 2 when it was 97 degrees.

— The Patriots will not play on any holidays and will be at home the weeks of Christmas and New Year’s. They will play in Houston the Sunday night of Thanksgiving weekend.

— There aren’t any true “destination” games for Patriots fans this year, like Tennessee was last season. Look for Philadelphia or Houston being the closest thing to it.