The Patriots' path back to the postseason will only get rockier.
At the very least, the New England Patriots should have a solid case for the College Football Playoff selection committee.
Based on opponents' 2022 win percentage, the Patriots have been cursed with the fourth-toughest schedule in the NFL next year. Only the Philadelphia Eagles, New York Giants and Miami Dolphins have tougher slates.
Nine of the Patriots' 17 games will be against playoff teams, including two of the four finalists doing battle in Sunday's conference championship actions. Both the Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs visit Gillette Stadium next year.
One of the Patriots' nine games will be held in Germany next season as part of the NFL International Series.
Like the rest of their NFL brethren, all but three of the Patriots' 2023-24 opponents were decided before the season began. The NFL's scheduling formula situates the Patriots and their East divisional compatriots against their NFC counterparts, three of which (the Eagles, Giants, and Dallas Cowboys) reached the playoffs, which adds to the percentage-based toughness. The East divisions are made to pay for their success this year (the NFC East's cellar-dwellers, the Washington Commanders, finished 8-8-1), as the eight teams between sweep the toughest-schedule spots.
With their third-place finish in the AFC East this season, the Patriots also face the equivalent finishers in the AFC North (Pittsburgh), AFC South (Indianapolis), and NFC South (New Orleans). All AFC East participants also face the AFC West's quartet.
Whereas the East is made to relatively suffer ... the true difficulty of next year's schedule obviously relies upon how free agency and the draft shape out ... the South divisions get off relatively easy: the Atlanta Falcons have the easiest slate based on their opponents' low win percentage from the prior year with the aforementioned New Orleans Saints just above them. The easiest AFC schedules currently belong to Tennessee, Indianapolis, and Houston.
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags
New England and beyond! Get your Patriots game tickets from SI Tickets ... here!
Follow Patriots Country on Twitter and Facebook
Want the latest in breaking news and insider information on the Patriots? Click Here
More Patriots coverage from Sports Illustrated here .
Comments / 0