Thursday, June 7, 2012
Poll: Can Patriots survive early road tests?
By James Walker
On paper, the New England Patriots have the easiest schedule in the NFL. But the league didn't do New England any favors by scheduling three of its first four games on the road.
New England will be road warriors in the month of September. Will this result in a slow start for the reigning AFC champs? New England will travel to play the Tennessee Titans, at home against the Arizona Cardinals, then back on the road for games against Baltimore Ravens and Buffalo Bills.
The two games New England should particularly be concerned about are the back-to-back road games against Baltimore and Buffalo. The Patriots know how tough the Ravens are. New England barely squeezed out a 23-20 win in the AFC Championship Game over the Ravens this past January. The Ravens rarely lose at M&T Bank Stadium and will be seeking revenge. In addition, Buffalo upset New England last year at Ralph Wilson Stadium and split the season series. It's also an advantage for Buffalo that this game for New England comes immediately after a tough and brutal contest against the Ravens.
Many expect the Patriots to win at least 12 games this year and walk away with another AFC East title. But an early stumble by New England could make the division more competitive than expected.
Will it happen or will the Patriots take care of business?