Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky
The New England Patriots will head into the 2009 season with a lot of questions, but as a popular Super Bowl pick. If I am selecting my AFC champion right now, even before they use their six picks in the first 97 choices in the draft, it's the Patriots.
Everyone in the AFC South plays New England this fall -- Indianapolis and Houston at home, Jacksonville and Tennessee on the road. We find out when those games will be when the NFL releases its full schedule Tuesday evening.
In a Thursday blog entry about the most favorable possible schedule start for the Texans, I didn't consider including the Patriots on the first four. But AFC South Blog friend Mad Mike in Houston chimed in with this note to the mailbag:
Paul: I have thought about this a bit already and I would want to open the season with the Pats at home in Houston. The excitement of a new season opening at home, Brady not playing basically for a year, it would be best for the Texans to get them in the first month of the season and not after he got some games under his belt. He should be rusty and any advantage we can get is good. Then maybe go to Jacksonville and Cincy in consecutive weeks and then come home for the Seahacks. Could consider getting Buffalo in the first three games where Lynch will still be suspended and T.O. still working to learn how they work up there in Toronto. Thanks, this was a great question.........MM
Well, the Texans can't draw New England in Week 1 -- the Patriots' opener has already been announced. They host Buffalo as part of a Monday Night Football doubleheader that will pay tribute to the 50th anniversary of the AFL.
We can't predict, obviously, if the AFC South teams will be at their best early in the season or if the Patriots will be at their most vulnerable.
Still, would you rather see your team draw them Week 2 or somewhere further down the line?