Without further ado, here are some thoughts, game by game through the 2009 schedule for your New England Patriots, released this evening:
Sept. 14 (Monday) — vs. Buffalo (7 p.m., ESPN) TO’s debut with the Bills, along with (hopefully) Tom Brady’s return to action makes this opening week division game attractive. The 7:00pm start means you won’t be up all night, either.
Sept. 20 – at N.Y. Jets (1 p.m., CBS) Just like last year. This year, I really hope the Patriots aren’t giving a young QB his first NFL start. An early season look at the new Rex Ryan-led Jets, with what the coach promises to be an attacking defense.
Sept. 27 – vs. Atlanta (1 p.m., Fox) Matt Ryan returns to the area where he played college ball. Thomas Dimitroff leads the team he put together against the franchise where he learned his craft.
Oct. 4 – vs. Baltimore (1 p.m., CBS) No Rex Ryan leading the defense, but they still have Ray Lewis and many of the other tough defenders left on the squad. Patriots fans get their first look at QB Joe Flacco.
Oct. 11 – at Denver (4:15 p.m., CBS) The first meeting between the teacher (Bill Belichick) and the student (Josh McDaniels). I guarantee you that more than a few idiots in the media will place far to much focus and emphasis on whether the two shake hands after the game.
Oct. 18 – vs. Tennessee (4:15 p.m., CBS) It will be interesting to see what sort of team the Titans are this year. No Albert Haynesworth, but the two-headed running back tandem of Chris Johnson and LenDale White will provide a good test for the Patriots defense.
Oct. 25 — at Buccaneers (in London, 1 p.m.) Happy landings, old boy. I’m really glad the Patriots aren’t giving up a home game here, and in fact, it’s possible that the Brits might be more on the Pats side than that of the Bucs.
Nov. 1 — BYE Almost right smack in the middle of the schedule. Nice.
Nov. 8 – vs. Miami (1 p.m., CBS) First game with the division champs is in November? Will Jason Taylor play in this game? For whom? Where will the Dolphins be at this point? Will they have shown that last season was not a fluke?
Nov. 15 – at Indianapolis (8:20 p.m., NBC) It wouldn’t be November without a Colts/Patriots showdown. No Tony Dungy to play the Angel to Belichick’s Devil, but Bill Polian will be sure to have some things to say about the Pay-Tree-Oughts.
Nov. 22 – vs. N.Y. Jets (4:15 p.m., CBS) Another key divisional matchup as we approach the home stretch. Do the Jets sign Ty Law just days before this one, too?
Nov. 30 (Monday) – at New Orleans (8:30 p.m., ESPN) Potential for a high scoring shootout on Monday Night Football. The thought of Drew Brees and Tom Brady matching TD passes with each other must’ve gotten the ESPN brass fired up.
Dec. 6 – at Miami (8:20 p.m., NBC) The second matchup with the defending AFC champs. Weather not a factor really in either game. Don’t you missed the days when the Patriots would play in 100 degree heat in Miami and September, and the Dolphins would come into sub-zero temperature in December? That was back when the schedule-makers had a sense of humor…
Dec. 13 – vs. Carolina (1 p.m., Fox) What becomes of Julius Peppers? Does Vic Carruci look like a genius or someone who just threw something against the wall because it sounded good? Are the Panthers back to being the solid contender they seemed to be last season?
Dec. 20 – at Buffalo (1 p.m., CBS) Another late December game in Buffalo? Strange things tend to happen in these contests. What will this year hold?
Dec. 27 – vs. Jacksonville (1 p.m., CBS) Fred Taylor suits up against his old team for the first time. Three TDs, easy. Belichick might even have him drop-kick one if the division is sewn up. Jack Del Rio tries to rattle Chris Hanson by swinging an axe while the Patriots punter is in the middle of a crucial kick.
Jan. 3 – at Houston (1 p.m., CBS) The regular season comes to an end, hopefully this time with a playoff berth secured.