Analysis Shows Patriots Will Navigate One of NFL’s Toughest Schedules in 2024

Jerod Mayo

Getty Images Jerod Mayo

The New England Patriots faced a challenging 2023 season, finishing tied with the Washington Commanders and Arizona Cardinals with the second-worst record in the league. Despite their efforts, they were just two games behind the Carolina Panthers, who ended with a 2-15 record.

Now, looking ahead to the 2024 season, the road doesn’t appear to be getting any easier for the Patriots under new head coach Jerod Mayo. Sharp Football Analysis recently unveiled its strength of schedule projections for the upcoming campaign, utilizing Las Vegas’ forecasted win totals. According to their analysis, the Patriots are set to tackle one of the most demanding schedules in the league, ranking second only to the Pittsburgh Steelers in terms of difficulty.

A Closer Look at the Patriots 2024 Opponents

In addition to their divisional rivals in the AFC East, the Patriots will face off against the competitive teams of the AFC South. This division, which saw the Houston Texans emerge as champions in a tightly contested race, promises tough competition throughout the season. The Patriots will also see the Jaguars, Colts, and Titans with trips to Jacksonville and Tennessee. They will host both the Texans and the Colts.

New England will square off against the West division on the NFC side, setting the stage for cross-country journeys to face the Super Bowl runner-up San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals. Meanwhile, the Seattle Seahawks and Los Angeles Rams will make their way to Gillette Stadium for the first time in several years. Additionally, the Patriots will travel to Chicago to take on the Bears and most likely first-overall pick Caleb Williams. This marks New England’s first visit to the Windy City since 2018.

Seven of the Patriots’ 17 games in 2024 will be against 2023 playoff squads. The Patriots also get to visit a healthy Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals, as well as the aforementioned defending NFC champion San Francisco 49ers.

Three of the Patriots 2024 games will feature first-year head coaches. When the Patriots host the Seahawks, they’ll also host new head coach Mike Macdonald, who took over for Pete Carroll in Seattle. Former Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh will also be making his first appearance in Foxborough as the headman of the Los Angeles Chargers.

And when the Patriots head to Tennesee, they’ll no longer see the familiar face of former Patriot Mike Vrabel on the Titans sideline. Instead, Jarod Mayo will be matched against another first-year head coach, Brian Callahan.

With a tough slate of opponents from the AFC East, AFC South, and NFC West, the Patriots must bring their A-game week in and week out as they navigate the rigors of the 2024 NFL season.

Will Difficult Schedule Impact Patriots QB Decisions?

Now that the Patriots know they will have to navigate one of the most demanding schedules in the NFL next season, will this impact how they approach the 2024 QB situation? The signing of veteran QB Jacoby Brissett feels significantly more critical now that the 2024 opponents have been laid out. Expecting a rookie QB to navigate an NFL schedule successfully is difficult enough. Hoping a rookie QB can improve on the Patriots’ 4-12 record from 2023 against one of the most demanding schedules in the NFL would be a tall task.

Recently, The Athletic created a panel of current executives, scouts, former executives, and players to rank the quarterback prospects in the upcoming NFL draft. The panel voted UNC QB Drake Maye as the prospect most in need of a Redshirt year in the NFL. He is one of the younger top quarterback prospects in the draft, as he turns 22 in August.

One current NFL personnel executive had a pretty jarring quote regarding Maye. “He scares the hell out of me. Longer thrower with a big arm but not quick release. Nothing feels like it happens in rhythm, and accuracy is average. Needs a year on the bench”, said the executive.

But if Maye falls to the Patriots, as many believe he will, perhaps a year behind Jacoby Brissett will give him the time he needs to continue to develop. Brissett could navigate this demanding Patriots schedule while Maye gets a ton of practice reps and learns under a veteran quarterback who shared a quarterback room with former Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

The NFL just saw the emergence of Packers quarterback Jordan Love. Love was selected 26th overall in the 2020 NFL draft. Love sat behind Packers star quarterback Aaron Rodgers for two consecutive seasons before taking over the reins in Green Bay. And all Love did in his first full season as the starting quarterback was continuing to improve throughout the season and lead the Packers to an upset playoff win in the divisional round in Dallas over the Cowboys.

Perhaps the perfect recipe for any quarterback the Patriots take in the NFL draft is to sit for a year behind a veteran quarterback, especially with this gauntlet of a 2024 schedule.