Taking a look at the 2020 season, I decided I am going to break the season down by quarters. It’s like a horse race, not how you drive, but how you arrive. This team will be much different later in the season, hardened by the top caliber teams they have played. No team has a tougher schedule than the Patriots. So this will be the first of 4 installments on the schedule.
The Patriots have been given the OK to start team activities inside Gillette. This will be at a reduced staff and a limited number of players requiring medical rehab. This is the first step towards a start of the new season.
The team has been conducting virtual conferences with the individual player position groups. I am sure each player has received a copy of the playbook and as the weeks go on, more pages have likely been added. They will not have the ability to conduct OTA’s and mini camps (as of yet). This should hinder the development of the rookies, UDFAs and newly signed Free Agents. Cohesion as a team may be an issue early in the season. My analysis of the schedule will be influenced by what I see as a huge roster turnover.
Pre-season – I am assuming the league will be allowed to conduct these Pre-season games, probably without fans. All their Pre-season games are on Thursday nights. We have the Detroit Lions coming in for the 1st pre-season game on August 13th. Unfortunately, as much as I would normally anticipate this would be an opportunity for some joint practices, the NFL previously sent a memo to all 32 teams stating that no joint practices will be held in 2020. As a result, there won’t be an opportunity for Bill Belichick and Matt Patricia to work together in joint sessions, which is disappointing.
The 2nd game is also at home August 20th vs the Carolina Panthers. Both games are at 7:30. The 3rd game is the most important and you should see starters throughout the first half. This is on August 27th, also a 7:30 start at the Philadelphia Eagles. This will be a good test to see where the team is at. Finally the annual battle of the unknowns with the New York Giants on September 3rd. This is a 7:00 contest.
Out of the gate – 1st Quarter:
The Pats open with Miami Dolphins at home – This is a bit of an advantage to Miami. They have been practicing in the heat of South Florida and coming up to NE in Sept (not Dec) helps them. Both teams will be at a similar disadvantage because of the number of young players that will be playing. MIA does have the veteran QB in Fitzpatrick. He could be the difference. Miami coach (and former Patriots assistant) Brian Flores has the team headed into the right direction. They had a great draft but like the Pats young players the lack of OTAs and Mini Camp will leave then struggling more than usual. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Dolphins could eek out a win in the opening game. I still have the Patriots winning with 5 weeks to prepare for MIA.
Game 2 is a road trip to Seattle – The Seahawks are always one of the toughest teams to play in their house. However, at the beginning of the season, crowds may not be allowed in the stadiums? Lets hope so! Seattle comes in at #6 in the Power Rankings according to Peter King and Pro Football Focus. They are a very talented team and a tough opponent for the Pats. This will be a good bonding opportunity for the new team. They will learn from this experience and I expect them to lose. This is a Sunday night game, so the team won’t be getting back until the mid-morning hours of Monday.
Game 3 is back at home against the improved Las Vegas Raiders – King has them at #8 in the Power Rankings. I think that is a bit high for them. Under former NFL Player and Draft Analyst Mike Mayock the Raiders have put together great back to back drafts. 2nd year Alabama RB Josh Jacobs leads the team. They are loaded with former Alabama and Clemson players. This is going to be a very difficult game for the Patriots. If they don’t have a home crowd to give them a boost they are probably going to lose this game.
Game 4 is a battle against the Chiefs – Where is the one place you don’t want to play early in the season (or anytime in the season) – Kansas City. The Defending champs are the #1 team in the power rankings and have no weakness. They are one of the toughest teams to play on the road. Again hoping there is no crowd. If there is, it’s the loudest place for crowd noise in the league. This is a brutal start to the season. What will we learn about this Patriots team? Starting the season at 1-3 is not ideal, but it’s not the end of the season. They are playing the #1, #6 and #8 teams in power rankings. How much will they improve? How is the QB play? Can the defense keep them in the game? These are some of the questions that will get answered.
Posted Under: 2020 Patriots Offseason