More thoughts on Patriots going 16-0

August, 15, 2012
8/15/12
12:00
PM ET
Last month we pointed out a thought-provoking story from our friend Pete Prisco of CBS Sports. Prisco had the guts to predict the results of all 16 games for each NFL team and came to the conclusion that the New England Patriots will finish the regular season undefeated.

This week I ran into Prisco at Miami Dolphins practice and followed up on his bold prediction. Prisco then brought up a good point.

"Point out a game they're expected to lose,” Prisco told me.

It was a valid response, because as I went down the schedule in my head, New England was the favorite in just about every game.

But here are a few potential pitfalls:

Sept. 23 at Baltimore Ravens

Thoughts: This is a rematch from last season's classic AFC title game. Yes, the Ravens won’t have reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year Terrell Suggs, who is out with an Achilles injury. But I can tell you from experience that Baltimore’s M&T Bank Stadium is one of the NFL’s toughest venues for road teams. The Patriots will need their “A” game to beat the Ravens in their home stadium. This may end up being the toughest game on New England’s schedule.

Chances of losing: 60 percent

Sept. 30 at Buffalo Bills

Thoughts: The Bills finally got over the hump last year by beating the Patriots at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Buffalo was the only AFC East team to beat New England and certainly won’t be intimidated. It also hurts that this game is coming just one week after a physical, high-profile showdown with Baltimore.

Chances of losing: 40 percent

Oct. 7 vs. Denver Broncos

Thoughts: The Patriots obviously will be the favorites at Gillette Stadium. But the opponent always is a threat when Peyton Manning is the quarterback. Manning and Tom Brady have had some classic battles in the past with a lot on the line. This will be another big game of two AFC contenders.

Chances of losing: 30 percent

Nov. 22 at New York Jets

Thoughts: Say what you want about the Jets, but they have given the Patriots a tough time since hiring head coach Rex Ryan. Up until last year’s sweep, New York was a thorn in the Patriots’ side. These two teams have developed a nice rivalry the past few years. So any time the Jets host the Patriots, you know New York is going to be up for this game. Still, the Jets most likely don’t have enough firepower to keep up with New England this season.

Chances of losing: 30 percent

Dec. 10 vs. Houston Texans

Thoughts: I really like this Houston team. I think the Texans are one of New England’s biggest competitors in the AFC, along with the Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers. Houston has the offense to keep up with the Patriots and a better defense. Even at home, this won’t be an easy game.

Chances of losing: 40 percent

Dec. 16 vs. San Francisco 49ers

Thoughts: The 49ers are another team that is a contender. They have a tough defense, solid running game and an improving group of receivers after adding Randy Moss and Mario Manningham in free agency. However, the 49ers are on the road and I still don't have a lot of confidence in Alex Smith. I have a hard time seeing Smith outdueling Brady at Gillette Stadium.

Chances of losing: 30 percent

Barring significant injuries, the Patriots will probably be favored in all but one game this year, the one at Baltimore. But I still don’t see the Patriots going undefeated. That’s a very hard thing to do and requires focus, consistency and a little luck for 16 consecutive weeks. I think the Patriots will slip up and lose at least two or three games this regular season.

James Walker | email

ESPN Miami Dolphins reporter

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