Friday, September 7, 2012

2012 Patriots Preview: The Schedule

I know you only read through the first two entries to get to this one -- the all-important preview of the Patriots 2012 schedule and predicted results.  Not that it's always (or even usually) correct, but it's my attempt to delve further into the 2012 season and figure out where the Patriots are likely to stumble and what their record will be.

And so, without further adieu, here's the 2012 schedule in a nutshell (as always, with the season broken down into quarters).

First Quarter

Week 1: The Tennessee Titans open at home against the Patriots, and start young quarterback Jake Locher.  Unfortunately for the Titans, he hasn't progressed much since last year, and the Patriots have plenty of tape on him to force Tenn. to run.  And that plays to the Patriots strength on defense (if you call it a strength).  Also of note, the last seven years, the Patriots are 7-0 in season openers, the Titans just 2-5.  Win for the Patriots.

Week 2: Arizona travels east for what will feel like a 10:00am start at Gillette, with whomever they dare put at QB.  Also, they don't have much at receiver beyond Larry FitzGerald, so unless he destroys them single-handedly, it will be another Patriots win.

Week 3: The team travels to Baltimore for a rematch of last year's AFC Championship game, the one that was twice choked away by the Ravens.  They will have revenge on their minds, and of course, their defensive biggest strength (QB pressure) plays right into the Patriots biggest offensive weakness (O-line).  The Patriots could win, but put it down as a likely loss.

Week 4: The Patriots third road game will be in Buffalo, and the division-rival Bills won't have a let down.  However, the Patriots had beaten the Bills 15 straight times before they blew a 21-point lead and barely lost last year.  The Patriots have revenge on their minds this time, and they will win despite the improved Bills defensive pass rush.

Second Quarter

Week 5: The Pats start the second quarter of the year with a home game against the Broncos and some new quarterback they signed.  The Broncos always give the Patriots trouble when they get any decent quarterback play, and Peyton Manning is a huge upgrade from Tim Tebow.  It's also a 4:25 game, so jet lag won't be an issue.  Even though it's a potential trap game for the Broncos, I hate to do it, but it sounds like a bad combination for the Patriots, so put down their second loss.

Week 6: Next up they fly to Seattle to take on rookie QB Russell Wilson.  Not only will the Patriots have five games of film to break down Wilson's tendencies, but this is most definitely a trap game for the Seahawks.  They play two eastern games the two previous weeks, and then have a huge division tilt the week after the Patriots game.  Besides, not much of a pass rush or a secondary out there.  Put it in the win column for the Patriots.

Week 7: Next up, the Jets bring their improved defense and imploding offense to New England.  By this time, the Patriots offensive line should be more in sync, and everyone will know all the trick plays the Jets have planned for Tebow.  And aside from that, it'll be the same Marc Sanchez and even less talent at receiver.  Sounds like a division win to me.

Week 8: The Patriots hop Lake Atlantic to London.  The good news is the opponent, the St. Louis Rams.  However, they do have a new head coach, longtime Tennessee head man Jeff Fischer, who emphasizes pressure on the quarterback.  Fortunately for the Patriots, it's only year one of the rebuilding plan, so they should handle this without too much difficulty.  Win.

Third Quarter

Week 9: Take the week off, the Patriots are on a bye.

Week 10: By this point in the season, Buffalo should be in their traditional slide, so the Patriots should win the rematch at Gillette Stadium.

Week 11: This could be a dangerous game; the Colts almost came back from a 28-point deficit against the Patriots last year with Dan Orlovsky at quarterback.  The difference this year is that Andrew Luck will be nine games into his career, and Bill Belichick's defenses have a way of confusing young quarterbacks the first time they play against them.  Patriots win.

Week 12: The Patriots then take off for an ultra-short week to play the Jets in New York on Thanksgiving (man, does time fly!).  Road division games are tough enough, and the Jets play a cupcake the weekend before.  So when you factor in the short week and the fact that the Jets will likely be playing for their playoff lives at this point, and it seems like a Patriots loss.

Week 13: Give Belichick ten days to prepare for a rookie quarterback in a division game (after an assumed division loss), and it shouldn't be close.  Miami is in transition, the Patriots have their eyes on greater prizes; they will win this one because they are supposed to win it.

Fourth Quarter

Week 14: The Patriots then have a Monday night showdown with the rising Houston Texans.  Unfortunately for the hometown team, Houston has precisely the kind of diverse offense that shreds them and a tough defense with a great coordinator.  Houston might have gone to the Super Bowl last year if their quarterback hadn't gotten injured late in 2011.  And even though they will be playing the third of three away games, they are good enough to hand the Patriots their fourth loss.

Week 15: Short week after a loss against one of the best teams in the NFC last year -- the 49ers -- this could be a recipe for a rare two-game losing streak.  But not this time.  The Patriots defense will find quarterback Alex Smith has plenty of weaknesses to exploit, and San Francisco running game will be much less effective against the stout Patriots front seven.  The 49ers also have a division game the next week and this will game will be the third that is at least two time zones away from their west coast home.  Patriots win.

Week 16: Next up is a trip to Jacksonville to play the Jaguars.  With Blaine Gabbert or Chad Henne at quarterback, the Patriots only need to stop running back Maurice Jones-Drew -- and they will win by default.

Week 17: Miami comes to town after that, and unless the game is meaningless for playoff positioning, the Patriots win it in a walk.  Southern and dome teams often claim they don't let the weather bother them.  But there is plenty of evidence that they do.*  Patriots win this game if it means anything to them.

* The Patriots have 41-49 overall record against the Dolphins, but they are 10-4 against them in December/January.  This includes two losses when the Patriots played second-stringers in the last game of a season to avoid injuries going into the playoffs.

So there you have it, a predicted 12-4 record, certainly good enough for a division title, and probably puts the team in contention for a first-round playoff bye.

Keep the faith, and check back in Monday!

- Scott

PS.  0-0!
(but not for long)


  1. Scott,
    Great job. Nice writing. Next stop..ESPN

  2. From your keyboard to ESPN's ears!

    Thanks for reading, glad you enjoyed it.

    - Scott

  3. I really like your blog. Very well written. Thought you would enjoy this Patriots article I wrote for yahoo! sports: