By Connor Fulton @ConnorFultonRS on June 12, 2014
After having one of the league’s easiest schedules last year, 2014 will be far from a walk in the park for the New England Patriots. In addition to facing the formidable NFC North division, they will play each of the AFC teams that reached the playoffs last season. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the five toughest opponents the Patriots will face this season.
After flaming out in 2013—Kansas City lost six of their last eight games including playoffs—the Chiefs will be looking to reassert themselves in the AFC pecking order. There’s no better way to do that than by upsetting the New England Patriots early in the season. Arrowhead Stadium is one of the toughest NFL environments to play in, so if the Patriots are able to pull out this victory, it would be a huge confidence boost.
This game will be a true test for the Patriots' secondary. If Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner are both healthy and can shut down the scary receiving duo of Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, the Pats should be able to get the win. But the Bears are becoming a trendy Super Bowl pick, and with good reason, so this should be a close game.
As long as Aaron Rodgers is on the field, the Packers are a playoff team. And when the Packers are playing at Lambeau Field, they are that much better. By the time this game rolls around in Week 13, the playoff picture will be coming into focus, so the Patriots must find a way to secure the win.
The bad news is that the Colts are building a juggernaut that will contend both the Patriots and the Denver Broncos for supremacy in the AFC. The good news is that the Patriots will walk into Lucas Oil Stadium fresh off of their bye week. Bill Belichick doesn’t usually let those games slip away, but you can bet that the Colts will want to avenge their loss to the Pats in the Divisional Round of last year’s playoffs.
After an offseason arms race, both of these teams have improved themselves, making this matchup even more salivating for fans. Even if they are able to match the Broncos' offensive firepower, this will be the hardest game of the season for the Patriots. Stakes will be high for this contest, as the winner will likely have the inside track on the top seed in the AFC.
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