By Dan Charest @dannyacharest on April 24, 2014
The New England Patriots have one of the most intriguing schedules in the NFL for many reasons. First, they are one of the most disliked teams in the league, have had 13 consecutive winning seasons, and will play six playoff teams from a year ago. Regardless of the fact that the Patriots have the 10th hardest schedule (.516 2013 opponent winning percentage), they are still in the driver's seat to win the AFC East for the 12th time in 14 years.
The Indianapolis Colts are out for retribution after a 43-22 shellacking in the Divisional Round of last year's playoffs, and Andrew Luck is also trying to raise his squad from annual AFC South winner to perennial AFC favorite. This will be his first time facing Tom Brady and the Patriots in the "House That Peyton Built."
The San Diego Chargers are the most unpredictable team in the NFL, able to beat top-notch teams or lose in horrific fashion to league cellar dwellers on any given Sunday. But this is the time of year when Philip Rivers, Danny Woodhead and the Chargers typically turn it around, and a cross-country trip to the West Coast looks like a possible loss for the Patriots.
Their Sunday Night Football meeting four years ago at Gillette was memorable due to Dan Connelly returning a kickoff 71 yards and Matt Flynn's almost heroics. However, the game did cost us a precious chance to see Tom Brady go against Aaron Rodgers only a month before the latter won his first Super Bowl. Come Nov. 30 we will get to see two future Hall of Famers go at it.
At first, this matchup does not seem marquee. But consider the AFC East likely will not be sealed up by this point and the New York Jets can usually give the Patriots a scare at the home, as they have won three of their last five meetings at the Meadowlands.
Which moniker do you prefer: Brady-Manning XVI or Super Bowl 49.5? Whatever you call it, the two best quarterbacks of this generation are back at on Nov. 2. Last year, the Broncos and the Patriots met twice; First, a Week 12 all-time classic that resulted in a 34-31 overtime win for the Patriots and then, a forgettable 26-16 AFC Championship Game in favor of the Broncos. Home field advantage in the playoffs should be on the line in Week 9.
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