New England Patriots schedule and predictions takeaways:
- New England will open its season in Week 1 at home against the Miami Dolphins
- Patriots rank 18th in The Athletic’s strength of schedule
Bill Belichick devoted his offseason to reshape the Patriots’ roster, making one huge free-agent signing after another. Jonnu Smith, Hunter Henry, Nelson Agholor, Kyle Van Noy and Matthew Judon will make this team better on both sides of the ball. New England is also bringing back Dont’a Hightower after a COVID-19 opt-out and the Patriots’ draft class was impressive.
New England Patriots schedule predictions, roster outlook
All our predictions are based on the Patriots keeping and starting these key players:
- QB: Cam Newton
- RB: Damien Harris, Sony Michel, James White
- WR: Nelson Agholor, Kendrick Bourne, N’Keal Harry
- TE: Jonnu Smith, Hunter Henry
- Defense: No. 7 in 2021 NFL defense rankings
New England Patriots 2021 preseason schedule
|Thursday, August 12||vs. Washington Football Team||7:30 PM||CBS/WBZ|
|Thursday, August 19||@ Philadelphia Eagles||7:30 PM||CBS/WBZ|
|Sunday, August 29||@ New York Giants||6:00 PM||CBS/WBZ|
This season the NFL is lowering the amount of preseason games to three per team, and instead expanding the regular season to 17 games, rather than the traditional 16 games.
Let’s dive into New England’s schedule and deliver our Patriots’ game-by-game predictions for the upcoming season.
Week 1 – vs. Miami Dolphins
|Sunday, Sept. 12||4:25 PM||CBS|
- Spread: Patriots -2 (via DraftKings)
- Moneyline: Patriots -127, Dolphins +105
- Over/Under: 45.5
Miami overcame its demons in 2019, winning in Foxborough for the first time in more than a decade. This is going to become a great rivalry and Miami’s on the rise in the NFL, but you can’t bet against Belichick at home against the Dolphins. A season-opening victory means the Patriots have won 11 of their past 12 home dates against Miami.
- Week 1 schedule prediction: Patriots 20, Dolphins 17
Week 2 – @ New York Jets
|Sunday, Sept. 19||1:00 PM||CBS|
Zach Wilson might one day give Belichick the final push into retirement or just make him wish that he had an athletic quarterback. But for all the rookie’s promising talent, even in a friendly environment, this Week 2 matchup will be a rough “Welcome to the NFL” moment. Expect multiple turnovers, paving the way to a 2-0 start for New England.
- Week 2 schedule prediction: Patriots 27, Jets 14
Week 3 – vs. New Orleans Saints
|Sunday, Sept. 26||1:00 PM||FOX|
It feels very weird to see a Patriots-Saints matchup on the NFL schedule without Brady and Drew Brees battling it out. In fact, it will be the first that happened since 2005. New England is ascending and just spent like crazy in free agency, while New Orleans had to cut impact players due to their salary-cap woes. Stephon Gilmore will shadow Michael Thomas, Belichick will prioritize stopping Alvin Kamara and that’s a wrap for the Saints.
- Week 3 schedule prediction: Patriots 24, Saints 10
Week 4 – vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
|Sunday, Oct. 3||8:20 PM||NBC|
Fans are going to spend more than $2,000 per ticket just to watch Brady’s return to Gillette Stadium with binoculars. There aren’t many games better than this one in 2021, making it an easy pick for primetime television. Belichick will throw some new wrinkles at his former quarterback, but the Bucs have way too much talent for this game to be close.
- Week 4 schedule prediction: Buccaneers 27, Patriots 6
Week 5 – @ Houston Texans
|Sunday, Oct. 10||1:00 PM||CBS|
The Texans might win as many games in the next two seasons as New England did in 2020. Houston is in a disastrous state right now, just beginning to formulate a plan for a grueling rebuild. The Patriots have an outstanding defense and it will make fans think of the glory days when they watch this matchup.
- Week 5 schedule prediction: Patriots 28, Texans 0
Week 6 – vs. Dallas Cowboys
|Sunday, Oct. 17||4:25 PM||CBS|
It’s no longer the game of CBS’s dreams, but the Patriots-Cowboys clash should still be a must-watch in 2021. New England’s strength is its defense, particularly its secondary, which matches up well against Dallas. With New England controlling the tempo, protecting the football and containing Dak Prescott, we’ve got the recipe for a win.
- Week 6 schedule prediction: Patriots 24, Cowboys 21
Week 7 – vs. New York Jets
|Sunday, Oct. 24||1:00 PM||CBS|
The Patriots have to be happy they are facing Wilson twice within the first two months. There’s a long adjustment period for rookies, especially when making the jump from a program like BYU to the NFL. Expect New England’s defense to dictate this entire game, delivering another celebration in Foxborough thanks to a 6-1 start.
- Week 7 schedule prediction: Patriots 24, Jets 17
Week 8 – @ Los Angeles Chargers
|Sunday, Oct. 31||4:05 PM||CBS|
The Los Angeles Chargers are an excellent football team, potentially one or two pieces away from competing for a Super Bowl. Traveling across the country to California is a difficult challenge to overcome and while the Patriots can be prepared for it, the effects from it paired with a matchup against Justin Herbert and this defense is too much.
- Week 8 schedule prediction: Chargers 21, Patriots 13
Week 9 – @ Carolina Panthers
|Sunday, Nov. 7||1:00 PM||CBS|
Carolina settled at quarterback this offseason and it’s going to cost them. Put Deshaun Watson, Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford or even Justin Fields, and this is a very dangerous club. With Sam Darnold as the signal-caller, New England’s defense will get into his head with pressure and that will cost Carolina.
- Week 9 schedule prediction: Patriots 17, Panthers 16
Week 10 – vs. Cleveland Browns
|Sunday, Nov. 14||1:00 PM||CBS|
The Patriots have outscored the Browns 60-26 in their past two meetings. Time changes everything and while New England is in a better place than we saw last season, Cleveland is now home to one of the best teams in the NFL. Even playing at Gillette Stadium, expect the Browns to demonstrate why they are the superior team.
- Week 10 schedule prediction: Browns 24, Patriots 13
Week 11 – @ Atlanta Falcons
|Thursday, Nov. 18||8:20 PM||FOX, NFLN|
In their second meeting since the infamous Super Bowl LI, both of these clubs find themselves at pivotal points as organizations. Atlanta is going to be competitive this year, but a rebuild is imminent and the 2021 season is simply going to be about final memories. The Patriots already went through their rough year and the better defense should decide this rematch.
- Week 11 schedule prediction: Patriots 31, Falcons 27
Week 12 – vs. Tennessee Titans
|Sunday, Nov. 28||1:00 PM||CBS|
Stop Derrick Henry. If the Patriots’ run defense can contain the best running back in the NFL, keeping him under the 100-yard mark, they win this game. With Belichick at the helm and the additions made in the front seven, New England can get the job done.
- Week 12 schedule prediction: Patriots 14, Titans 10
Week 13 – @ Buffalo Bills
|Monday, Dec. 6||8:15 PM||ESPN|
If the Patriots have a 9-3 record heading into this matchup, the buzz in Foxborough will be insane. It makes this AFC East clash on ESPN so much better for Monday Night Football. But the Bills are going to be the buzzsaw that cuts through New England’s momentum, with Josh Allen making just enough jaw-dropping throws to put this game away.
- Week 13 schedule prediction: Bills 28, Patriots 17
Week 14 – BYE
Week 15 – @ Indianapolis Colts
|Sunday, Dec. 19||TBD||TBD|
There are a lot of questions around the Colts this season. Will Carson Wentz be the 2020 version of himself (49.6 QBR, 57.4% completion rate) or the passer we saw in 2019 (62.8 QBR, 21/7 TD/INT ratio)? Can Eric Fisher, coming off a tor n Achilles, still hold his own at left tackle? Just as importantly, who outside of DeForest Buckner is going to step up in this pass rush? Overall, there are just too many concerns to feel confident in the Colts beating New England.
- Week 15 schedule prediction: Patriots 23, Colts 20
Week 16 – vs. Buffalo Bills
|Sunday, Dec. 26||1:00 PM||CBS|
The Patriots’ defense will be better in 2021, but beating one of the NFL’s best offenses is a daunting task. The Bills have the firepower to take control of this game early and with the Patriots’ passing attack unable to keep up, Buffalo walks away with the AFC East.
- Week 16 schedule prediction: Bills 30, Patriots 21
Week 17 – vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
|Sunday, Jan. 2||1:00 PM||CBS|
There are going to be a lot of promising moments in Trevor Lawrence‘s rookie season, this won’t be among them. New England boasts the pass rushers to get past Jacksonville’s offensive tackles, its secondary matches up nicely with these receivers and the Patriots have a huge coaching advantage.
- Week 17 schedule prediction: Patriots 28, Jaguars 17
Week 18 – @ Miami Dolphins
|Sunday, Jan. 9||1:00 PM||CBS|
There’s plenty of hype building around Miami and for good reason. If Tua Tagovailoa takes the next step in his NFL career, this becomes an outstanding football team. It will take time for that, which is why the Dolphins are projected to lose in the first meeting. Closing out the season in Miami, the Dolphins beat the Patriots and secure a playoff spot.
- Week 18 schedule prediction: Dolphins 24, Patriots 20