New England Patriots: Wes Welker’s Return to Gillette Stadium is the Most Intriguing Match-Up of Season
After a quick glance, it is easy to notice that the 2013 New England Patriots schedule is a lot more arduous compared to recent seasons. With a tougher slate of opponents, the Patriots should expect tighter contests, likely decided in the waning moments of the game. With the Patriots likely having to grind out type of wins against the upper echelon teams, fans can expect some entertaining games in 2013.
The Patriots will travel to the Georgia Dome in Week 4 to play the Atlanta Falcons, who finished with the No. 1 seed in the NFC a season ago as they reached the conference championship game for the first time since 2004. This Sunday night contest will be televised on NBC. Falcons’ quarterback Matt Ryan posts an otherworldly 33-5 record at home, making this arguably the toughest game on the Patriots’ schedule. Not only is this game a must-watch for Patriots’ fans, but fans of football in general will also enjoy quarterbacks, Tom Brady and Matt Ryan, airing it out under the bright lights.
Week 16 will feature a rematch of the 2012 AFC Championship, between the Patriots and the defending Super-Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens on Sunday Night Football. Unlike the AFC Championship, the game will not be played at Gillette Stadium; rather, the venue will be M & T Bank Stadium. This will be a revenge game for the Patriots, so Joe Flacco and crew better bring their “A” game to the table.
While the Patriots’ road games against the Falcons and Ravens will likely be entertaining, the most intriguing matchup of the season for New England will be in Week 12, when Wes Welker makes his highly anticipated return to Gillette Stadium as a member of the Denver Broncos.
Welker will be extra motivated for this contest, with the Patriots declining to re-sign him in the off-season. The Patriots offered him a two year, $ 10 million dollar contract but Welker was displeased with that proposal. The Broncos offered Welker the same amount of years with $2 million more, but before Welker signed, he gave the Patriots a chance to match the offer. New England refused to budge at all, allowing the nimble slot receiver to join another AFC powerhouse.
The Patriots appeared as if they knew Welker was not returning all along because hours after he signed with the Denver Broncos, the Patriots inked wideout Danny Amendola to a five year, $31 million deal with $10 million guaranteed. This should add to the fuel of Welker because it shows the Patriots would rather have the injury-prone Amendola than Welker, who has caught a NFL high 672 passes since 2007.
The best part of the Patriots and Broncos meeting up late in the season is that both Amendola and Welker will have already played 10 games with their new team. Therefore, there will be enough of a sample size to compare the two players in terms of production with their new team, revealing if the Patriots made the right or wrong choice to let go of Welker.
As if the Welker versus Amendola was not captivating enough for football fans, the game will also feature Brady versus Peyton Manning. Brady and Manning are two of the best quarterbacks of all time and it is always a treat for NFL fans when the two go up against one another. Brady owns Manning head-head, boasting a 9-4-career record against him, including winning 2 of the three-playoff contests between one another. The 14th edition of the Brady versus Manning rivalry will take place on November 24th on a Sunday night on NBC and any NFL fan would be inane to miss this matchup.
Tyler Ash is a New England Patriots Writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on twitter @TyAsh34 Like His Facebook Page, or add him to your network on Google Plus … He writes NBA articles and MLB articles for Rant Sports as well.