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Reaction to Patriots' 2011 schedule

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Recent posts by Kevin Fishbain

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Posted April 20, 2011 @ 10:55 a.m. ET
By Kevin Fishbain

The NFL released its 2011 schedule on Tuesday evening and the Patriots, who had the league's best regular-season record at 14-2 last season, will begin on Monday night, Sept. 12 in Miami.

The Patriots play four primetime games, including the season opener against the Dolphins, part of a "Monday Night Football" doubleheader. They play two Sunday-night games — Week 10 at the New Meadowlands against the Jets and Week 13 against the Colts. They play on "Monday Night Football" again in Week 11 against the Chiefs, last season's AFC West champs.

The Patriots' bye is in Week Seven.

Analysis

The Patriots need to get off to a good start, and the schedule is set up for them to do so with zero '10 playoff teams in their first four games.

Why is it crucial for them to get off to a good start? Because New England will face a gauntlet following their Week Seven bye. In the six games scheduled from Week Eight through Week 13, the Patriots will face five playoff teams from last year and one team that just missed out, the Giants.

The stretch starts in Pittsburgh on Oct. 30 before a home game against the Giants. Then the Pats have their second meeting with the Jets before hosting the Chiefs, traveling to Philadelphia to play the Eagles and finishing against the Colts in Foxborough.

The most difficult games could be the road contests against the defending AFC champion Steelers and Michael Vick's Eagles.

But the final four games set up nicely if the Patriots need to play for seeding, home-field advantage, or even just to make the playoffs. They conclude with the Redskins, Broncos, Bills and Dolphins. Those four teams had a combined record of 21-43 last season.

The Pats also play the Chargers, Raiders and Cowboys.

In 2010, the Pats hit their stride in Week 10, rattling off eight consecutive victories to finish the season. Getting a similar midseason boost in 2011 would be fortuitous considering their opponents and would lead into four games to end the season in which the Patriots would likely be the favorites in all of them.

 

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