New England Patriots

  • The New England Patriots’ schedule for 2022 is a healthy mix of top-tier challenges and basement-dwelling gimmes.

    Perhaps that is more of a statement on the state of the National Football League, which seems to have quite a gap between the top Super Bowl contenders and the very bottom of the standings. Realistically, the Patriots exist somewhere in the middle – but the same can’t really be said for their 2022 opponents.

    Here at 985TheSportsHub.com, we’ve obviously covered the Patriots’ own concerns in-depth. But that doesn’t mean they’re the only team with question marks entering the season. So we decided to check in on the teams coming up on the Patriots’ 2022 schedule, if only to help New England fans get to know them a little better.

  • Sports Hub Underground | Previewing the 2022 Patriots

    (Click here to subscribe to the Sports Hub Underground podcast.)

  • Here’s a look at each opponent on the Patriots’ 2022 regular season schedule, in chronological order. This is what to think about ahead of every team’s matchup(s) with New England, in particular.

    Miami Dolphins: A Player’s Coach

    MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA - AUGUST 27: Head Coach Mike McDaniel of the Miami Dolphins on the sidelines during the first half of the preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles  at Hard Rock Stadium on August 27, 2022 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images)

    MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA – AUGUST 27: Head Coach Mike McDaniel of the Miami Dolphins on the sidelines during the first half of the preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Hard Rock Stadium on August 27, 2022 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images)

    In a league filled with hardos and buffoons, Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel’s offbeat personality is endearing. He has the cliche “Player’s Coach” written all over him. McDaniel has a lot of likability as a person, but will that translate to winning a lot of football games? Because the Dolphins do have some high-end talent on both sides of the ball.

    McDaniel’s ability (or lack thereof) to keep his team focused, prepared, and disciplined, and manage his way through games, could make or break Miami’s season. That starts with a stiff first test of the year for McDaniel in a coaching matchup against Bill Belichick.

  • Pittsburgh Steelers: The Battle of the Transitions

    PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 13: Mitch Trubisky #10 of the Pittsburgh Steelers warms up before a preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks at Acrisure Stadium on August 13, 2022 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)

    PITTSBURGH, PA – AUGUST 13: Mitch Trubisky #10 of the Pittsburgh Steelers warms up before a preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks at Acrisure Stadium on August 13, 2022 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)

    The Patriots are still building and looking to make more progress in year 3 of the post-Tom Brady era. The Steelers, meanwhile, have only just begun their transition away from Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback. It’s possible that even Mitchell Trubisky, who posted a 93.5 passer rating in his last year as a starter in 2020, represents an upgrade over Roethlisberger’s 2021 output (86.8 passer rating).

    As the second of back-to-back road games for the Patriots, this won’t be an easy game, by any means. But in theory, Belichick should have a good plan to limit Trubisky and the Steelers’ offense.

  • Baltimore Ravens: Contract Year Lamar

    PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA - DECEMBER 05: Lamar Jackson #8 of the Baltimore Ravens looks to pass against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the first quarter at Heinz Field on December 05, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

    PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA – DECEMBER 05: Lamar Jackson #8 of the Baltimore Ravens looks to pass against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the first quarter at Heinz Field on December 05, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

    The league might want to watch out. Lamar Jackson is heading into a contract year, and probably the best opportunity he’ll ever have in his career to land a real mega-deal next off-season. The hope is that the Patriots can repeat their pleasantly surprising performance against the Ravens from 2020, which did take place in a driving rainstorm. But it wouldn’t be surprising if Jackson is going into this game playing at the level he did in his MVP 2019 season.

  • Green Bay Packers: Aaron Rodgers vs. The World

    KANSAS CITY, MO - AUGUST 25: Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers participates in pregame warmups prior to the preseason game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on August 25, 2022 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images)

    KANSAS CITY, MO – AUGUST 25: Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers participates in pregame warmups prior to the preseason game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on August 25, 2022 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images)

    Aaron Rodgers has a gutted receiver corps, and it seems like everyone hates him. So if he leads the Packers to another NFC North title and lights it up this time, it will really be an “F you” campaign. The Patriots’ matchup at Lambeau Field is, on paper, very tough. But the Packers don’t necessarily have the pass-catching depth to really take advantage of a remade, relatively untested Patriots cornerback group. If the Pats can have the field covered and get to Rodgers quickly, they’ll give themselves a chance to pull the road upset.

  • Detroit Lions: No Letdowns

    INDIANAPOLIS, IN - AUGUST 20: Head coach Dan Campbell of Detroit Lions is seen during the second half against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium on August 20, 2022 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

    INDIANAPOLIS, IN – AUGUST 20: Head coach Dan Campbell of Detroit Lions is seen during the second half against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium on August 20, 2022 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

    It’s the Lions. It’s Jared Goff. It’s Dan Campbell. You’re at home at 1 p.m. The Patriots simply need to take care of business in this game. Hopefully their defense isn’t too motivated to get revenge on Matt Patricia.

  • Cleveland Browns: Stopping an ex-Patriot

    CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 27: Jacoby Brissett #7 of the Cleveland Browns throws a pass as he is tripped by Trevis Gipson #99 of the Chicago Bears during the first half of a preseason game at FirstEnergy Stadium on August 27, 2022 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images)

    CLEVELAND, OH – AUGUST 27: Jacoby Brissett #7 of the Cleveland Browns throws a pass as he is tripped by Trevis Gipson #99 of the Chicago Bears during the first half of a preseason game at FirstEnergy Stadium on August 27, 2022 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images)

    Former Patriots quarterback Jacoby Brissett, who started one game for New England during Tom Brady’s 2016 suspension, is projected to start for Cleveland in this game while Deshaun Watson serves his 11-game suspension. It’s hard to imagine Brissett will have enough to go into Foxboro and beat Belichick’s Patriots, but we’ve seen strange things happen with former Pats before. Still, this should be another game in which the Patriots simply take care of business against the inferior operation.

  • Chicago Bears: Buyer’s Remorse?

    CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 27: Justin Fields #1 of the Chicago Bears throws as he is pressured by Alex Wright #94 of the Cleveland Browns during the first half of a preseason game at FirstEnergy Stadium on August 27, 2022 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images)

    CLEVELAND, OH – AUGUST 27: Justin Fields #1 of the Chicago Bears throws as he is pressured by Alex Wright #94 of the Cleveland Browns during the first half of a preseason game at FirstEnergy Stadium on August 27, 2022 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images)

    The Patriots have earned themselves a little doubt as to whether they’re doing what’s best for Mac Jones in his second season. But how about the Bears? They’re so desperate for pass-catchers they traded for N’Keal Harry. Fields has done himself no favors with the viral video clips of him sailing passes. Inevitably, this game will focus on the two quarterbacks, and the first big test for the teams that drafted them five picks apart.

  • New York Jets: Take the Kids to School

    PHILADELPHIA, PA - AUGUST 12: Zach Wilson #2 of the New York Jets walks to the locker room after an injury against the Philadelphia Eagles in the first half of the preseason game against the New York Jets at Lincoln Financial Field on August 12, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

    PHILADELPHIA, PA – AUGUST 12: Zach Wilson #2 of the New York Jets walks to the locker room after an injury against the Philadelphia Eagles in the first half of the preseason game against the New York Jets at Lincoln Financial Field on August 12, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

    Speaking of that 2021 draft…you may be worried the Patriots are hurting Mac Jones’ development right now, but nothing touches the Jets and what’s been a clunker of a start to Zach Wilson’s career. If he returns on time from a preseason knee injury, Wilson will be available for the first Pats-Jets game. But these both need to be Patriots wins. Bill Belichick has to continue to make a big difference in matchups like this. They should still be able to beat up on truly bad teams, and the Jets is where that will show up.

  • Indianapolis Colts: The Matt Ryan Difference

    INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - AUGUST 20: Matt Ryan #2 of the Indianapolis Colts looks on before the preseason game against the Detroit Lions at Lucas Oil Stadium on August 20, 2022 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)

    INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA – AUGUST 20: Matt Ryan #2 of the Indianapolis Colts looks on before the preseason game against the Detroit Lions at Lucas Oil Stadium on August 20, 2022 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)

    Is it possible that going from Carson Wentz to Matt Ryan hurts the Colts’ chances of beating the Patriots? Yes, Indy gave the Patriots a good Saturday night whoopin’ in last year’s contest, thanks in large part to Jonathan Taylor and massive special teams plays. But to base this year’s game on last year’s game is classic recency bias.

    If the Colts are going to gear more toward Ryan and the passing game, that could actually be a good thing for New England. Ryan is 0-4 in his career against the Pats in the regular season, and of course 0-1 in the Super Bowl.

  • Minnesota Vikings: Thanksgiving Turkey

    MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA - JANUARY 09: Justin Jefferson #18 of the Minnesota Vikings celebrates a 45-yard reception for a touchdown in the end zone with teammates in the fourth quarter of the game against the Chicago Bears at U.S. Bank Stadium on January 09, 2022 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)

    MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA – JANUARY 09: Justin Jefferson #18 of the Minnesota Vikings celebrates a 45-yard reception for a touchdown in the end zone with teammates in the fourth quarter of the game against the Chicago Bears at U.S. Bank Stadium on January 09, 2022 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)

    The Patriots are playing on Thanksgiving for the first time since the infamous “Butt Fumble” game against the Jets in 2012. The hope is they don’t find themselves on the other end of the joke in Minnesota. There are high hopes for the Vikings with a loaded offensive roster and new pass-happy offense, but they also have a rookie head coach in former Patriots legend Kevin O’Connell.

    It’s a tough spot for the Patriots on the road, on a short week, on a holiday, national TV. A loss here wouldn’t be stunning, but a competitive game is a must. They need to avoid getting blown out on a big stage again after last year.

  • Buffalo Bills: Is This Their Year?

    BUFFALO, NEW YORK - JANUARY 15: Josh Allen #17 of the Buffalo Bills walks off the field after defeating the New England Patriots with a score of 47 to 17 in the AFC Wild Card playoff game at Highmark Stadium on January 15, 2022 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images)

    BUFFALO, NEW YORK – JANUARY 15: Josh Allen #17 of the Buffalo Bills walks off the field after defeating the New England Patriots with a score of 47 to 17 in the AFC Wild Card playoff game at Highmark Stadium on January 15, 2022 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images)

    The Bills may be the most popular pick to win the Super Bowl across the league. Josh Allen continues to get better and appears well-positioned for his first MVP campaign, while the Bills went out and added Von Miller to their defense in the off-season. This is the last year that the Bills have Josh Allen on the books at an affordable price before they have to start retooling, so they need to strike while they’re loaded up.

    Based on how it’s gone against the Bills recently – which is NOT a recency bias, but more of a trend – the Patriots would have to feel great about winning one of these two games. But Buffalo is clearly the team to beat in the AFC East, and perhaps the league.

  • Arizona Cardinals: A Tale of Two Collapses

    INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 03: Kyler Murray #1 of the Arizona Cardinals talks with head coach Kliff Kingsbury after a timeout during a 37-20 win over the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium on October 03, 2021 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

    INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA – OCTOBER 03: Kyler Murray #1 of the Arizona Cardinals talks with head coach Kliff Kingsbury after a timeout during a 37-20 win over the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium on October 03, 2021 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

    The Patriots are 6-9 in December and January of the regular season since 2019. What was at first uncharacteristic has become something of a pattern for Belichick’s team. But they had three different quarterbacks over each of the past three seasons, so perhaps they’re not as connected as it seems.

    Arizona, meanwhile, is 6-10 in December and beyond in the same timeframe. So one of these teams will buck the trend a little bit, with this game taking place Dec. 12 on Monday Night Football. It’ll be interesting to see if either team has fixed their late-season woes by that point.

  • Las Vegas Raiders: Master vs. Apprentice

    Aug 26, 2022; Paradise, Nevada, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick (left) shakes hands with Las Vegas Raiders coach Josh McDaniels before the game at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

    Aug 26, 2022; Paradise, Nevada, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick (left) shakes hands with Las Vegas Raiders coach Josh McDaniels before the game at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

    Bill Belichick simply hasn’t built a good track record in games against former assistants. He’s already 0-1 against Josh McDaniels, who finds himself helming a stacked offense headlined by Davante Adams. The Raiders have a talented roster and appear primed to make real noise in a dominant AFC West. It’s going to be fascinating to see how McDaniels fares in his long-awaited second go-around as a head coach.

    But regardless of where either team stands by the time the Patriots and Raiders meet in Week 15, McDaniels should give his former head coach quite the challenge.

  • Cincinnati Bengals: The Hangover Part 56

    INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 13: Joe Burrow #9 of the Cincinnati Bengals walks off the field after Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium on February 13, 2022 in Inglewood, California. The Los Angeles Rams defeated the Cincinnati Bengals 23-20.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

    INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 13: Joe Burrow #9 of the Cincinnati Bengals walks off the field after Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium on February 13, 2022 in Inglewood, California. The Los Angeles Rams defeated the Cincinnati Bengals 23-20. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

    Super Bowl losses have a way of lingering. Obviously, everyone invested in the Bengals will take a berth in the big game, the team’s most successful campaign in decades. But can they avoid the dreaded Super Bowl Hangover™ in their quest to get back? Because they have Joe Burrow, who should be an MVP candidate, and Ja’Marr Chase, who looks like a generational talent, they’ll have a chance to win every week. This could be the toughest test of the season for the Patriots defense.

  • Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff and follow him on Instagram @realmattdolloff. You can also email him at mdolloff@985thesportshub.com.