This entire week I have been completely overtaken by the unfortunate events that occurred in Boston. Much like all of you, I spent my entire Friday glued to the news stations, watching and listening to the manhunt.
This past week we all had our attention on the city of Boston and it was easy for us to put the sports-world on the back-burner. Now that police and law enforcement have suspects in custody, I’d like to offer you a bit of a distraction.
This past Thursday the NFL released it’s regular season schedule. Let’s take a look at New England’s 2013 schedule as well as my five thoughts and predictions. Schedule per ESPN Boston:
Sunday, Sept. 8 — at Bills (1 p.m.)
Thursday, Sept. 12 — vs. Jets (8:25 p.m.)
Sunday, Sept. 22 — vs. Buccaneers (1 p.m.)
Sunday, Sept. 29 — at Falcons (8:30 p.m.)
Sunday, Oct. 6 — at Bengals (1 p.m.)
Sunday, Oct. 13 — vs. Saints (4:25 p.m.)
Sunday, Oct. 20 — at Jets (1 p.m.)
Sunday, Oct. 27 — vs. Dolphins (1 p.m.)
Sunday, Nov. 3 — vs. Steelers (4:25 p.m.)
Sunday, Nov. 10 — BYE
Monday, Nov. 18 — at Panthers (8:40 p.m.)
Sunday, Nov. 24 — vs. Broncos (8:30 p.m.)
Sunday, Dec. 1 — at Texans (4:25 p.m.)
Sunday, Dec. 8 — vs. Browns (1 p.m.)
Sunday, Dec. 15 — at Dolphins (1 p.m.)
Sunday, Dec. 22 — at Ravens (8:30 p.m.)
Sunday, Dec. 29 — vs. Bills (1 p.m.)
1. Yet another “cupcake” season-opener?
For the past couple of seasons, it seems like that each and every season-opener for the Patriots have been against a rather easy opponent. In 2012 it was the Tennessee Titans, 2011 was the Miami Dolphins, 2010 was the Cincinnati Bengals and 2009 was the Buffalo Bills.
Granted, it’s impossible to predict how the Buffalo Bills will fair this upcoming season, but this certainly does come off on paper as a “cupcake” season-opener for New England.
2. New England’s Thursday night game comes early rather than later
I honestly believe that this is a good thing—I’d prefer to play the mandatory Thursday night game in the early part of the season rather than towards the end. Why? Simply because I’d want any of the “irregular” games to be played in the early part of the season, to avoid any hiccups.
In New England’s case, they’ll square off against the New York Jets at Gillette Stadium during Week 2.
3. New England’s lone Monday night game comes in Carolina
This is certainly an interesting selection for ESPN’s Monday Night Football.
I understand that you’d want to have the New England Patriots on prime-time television, but against the Carolina Panthers? That doesn’t seem all that appealing to me.
Hopefully, for the NFL sake, Cam Newton will return to being an exciting, play-making quarterback this upcoming season to make this Monday night game a bit more interesting.
4. Bye Week falls in the middle of the season
Well not the exact middle of the season but Week 10 is pretty close.
New England will wrap up Week 9 as they host the Pittsburgh Steelers at Gillette Stadium and then will enter their bye to prepare for their Monday night game in Carolina against the Panthers.
Week 10 is certainly a good place to take a break as well as to gear yourselves up to make a playoff push.
5. The return of Wes Welker
Circle the date, Patriots nation: Sunday, Nov. 24.
This is going to be a game of the ages as Wes Welker will return to Foxboro as a member of the Denver Broncos.
This won’t be yet another Brady vs. Manning Bowl, but it will have a whole new twist to the rivalry: Wes Welker.
My question right now is: Will Gillette Stadium boo or cheer for Welker?
Projected Record: 13-3
Key wins against the Falcons in Atlanta, New Orleans Saint and the Denver Broncos. Key losses against the Ravens in Baltimore, Jets in New York and Texans in Houston.