For the 11th year in a row, the New England Patriots have been crowned AFC East champions. But next season may be the team’s toughest division title defense yet.
With all AFC divisions clinched, the Patriots can start piecing together their schedule for 2020. New England left the Eastern time zone once during the regular season this year — a road trip to Houston which was their longest travel of the year.
But next year, the stars align in the wrong way for New England as they’ll take on opponents from both the AFC West and NFC West in the same year. That will include a Super Bowl LIII rematch with the Los Angeles Rams in California.
Here’s who New England will be facing and where those games will be played including matchups with several elite quarterbacks.
Good thing the Patriots have their own set of planes because this is a ton of traveling. New England will play two games in Los Angeles against the Rams and the Chargers as well as another long flight to play Seattle.
Kansas City, Houston, and Miami are also longer flights for the Patriots but are trips made more frequently than California. Dates will likely be announced sometime around the 2020 NFL Draft.
Follow the Heavy on Patriots Facebook page for the latest breaking news, rumors, and content!
Staying Out West?
Perhaps the schedule makers will have a little mercy on the Patriots by giving them back-to-back road games on the West Coast. The Patriots did this last in 2014 when consecutive road games against Green Bay and San Diego coincided late in the year.
New England will likely be forced to get creative like this again, which despite its challenges, is a much more optimal strategy than flying three separate times to the West Coast. Coupled with another trip to Kansas City, the first for New England in the regular season since that infamous 2014 drubbing, it’s going to be a long year for New England.
The Rams and Seahawks on the road will not be easy opponents for the Patriots and neither will the Chargers who could be sporting a new-look offense. That Chargers game could even be a primetime matchup if the rumors of Tom Brady playing there next year come true.
Home Sweet Home
The Patriots will take on Jimmy Garoppolo and the San Francisco 49ers at home next season, a game that could be emotional for both teams. When New England traded Garoppolo for a second-round pick two years ago, many felt it was an unnecessary casualty that resulted in the loss of a future quarterback.
The Patriots have made the most of that pick, trading out for several more including one used to draft quarterback Jarrett Stidham.
One quarterback the Patriots didn’t draft and probably should have: Lamar Jackson. He’ll also be making his first career trip to Gillette Stadium next year as part of Baltimore’s first visit to Foxborough in four years.
Kyler Murray is another young quarterback coming to New England next season along with Denver’s Drew Lock who has looked impressive early in his career.