The most exciting time during the NFL schedule for any fan during the regular season is on prime-time television. Any games that take place on Monday, Thursday, or Sunday night are games that no fan wants to miss.
The Patriots are set to have a (tied-for) season-high five prime-time games this upcoming season. How do they look and how will New England perform on national television?
NFL Schedule Makers Match Chicago And New England On A Monday Night.
The Patriots will first perform in front of the nation on October 24th at 8:15 Pm EST. Mac Jones and Justin Fields, both opposing QBs, were selected in the same Draft classes last year, and the public will want to see how they both perform head-to-head.
The Bears featured a mere 6-11 record, a product of their star-less offense and their uninspiring defense. After losing Allen Robinson and Khalil Mack in the same season, it is unlikely that the Bears will get any better this season. I have New England taking the win in this game.
Patriots’ QB Mac Jones and Bears’ QB Justin Fields (via NBC Sports)
New England Gets Airtime On A National Holiday
For the first time in what seems like a while, the Patriots have been selected to play on Thanksgiving Day against the Vikings. Second-year QB Mac Jones did not play in many prime-time games last season, so this Thanksgiving Day show will be a big learning experience for him. Mac also should take out the scuba suit for this game: late-fall nights in Minnesota are no fun.
Despite having a Pro-Bowl QB in Kirk Cousins, the Minnesota Vikings were held back by poor coaching and a lack of consistency. With multiple stars featured on their roster, their performance next year could completely vary. In order for the Patriots to win this one, they’ll have to minimize Justin Jefferson and take advantage of their opportunities.
Deja Vu: Late-Night Games Against the Bills
The Patriots got their fair share of shots against the Bills last season, and… it was quite the roller coaster. The Bills are not only the clear favorite to win this game alone, but they are also one of the favorites to win it all. Expecting the Patriots, who are a re-building team, to defeat a title contender is a tall task, and nobody will be mad if they lose. However, there may still be a fighting chance of victory, one worth pursuing.
The Patriots already have beaten the Bills and Josh Allen before, and they very well know that the key is simply solid defense. If the Patriots can hold Josh Allen to a reasonable amount of touchdowns in this meeting, then they know that they could have a shot at victory. Sadly, it is much easier said than done, and the odds are not in their favor.
Mac Jones facing the Buffalo Bills in late 2021 (via Syracuse.com)
Late-Season Matchup Against The Cardinals
At the start of last season, the Cardinals were the team to beat after a nearly impeccable start to their season. After a rocky finish to the said season, the Cardinals now find themselves in the middle of the pack, much like the Patriots. This game is yet another test for Mac Jones, who has to square off against elite-QB Kyler Murray.
I really like the team’s chances in this one. The New England secondary could potentially have some trouble handling the receiving core featured on the Cardinals, but I doubt that it would be a game-changer. Like almost every other game, a victory will simply come down to consistency throughout the game on both sides of the ball. If the Patriots play up to their potential, a win is certainly not out of the question.
Late-Season Reunion With The Raiders
After Josh McDaniels was hired by the Raiders as a head coach, Patriots fans expected there to be a reunion sometime in the near future. With his new, beefed roster, McDaniels will definitely have the upper hand on Belichick. The Raiders are clear favorites to win this game, but the Patriots are not strangers to winning big games as the underdog.
Josh McDaniels and Bill Belichick (via Sports Illustrated)
Expecting the Patriots’ secondary to limit the outrageous receiving core on the Raiders is a little-bit irrational. With Hunter Renfrow, Darren Waller, and Davante Adams all having to be monitored, things could get out of hand. However, if Mac is able to stay competitive and match Derek Carr’s performance, the Patriots could find a path to victory.
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