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NFL New England Patriots

5 Games That Will Define the New England Patriots’ 2014 Season

5 Season-Defining Games for the New England Patriots in 2014

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David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Based on the Patriots’ opposing win percentages in 2013, they have the 10th toughest schedule in 2014. The Patriots play six playoff teams from 2013: Chiefs, Bengals, Broncos, Colts, Packers and Chargers. New England is still one of the favorites in the AFC and a heavy favorite to win the AFC East. With road games clustered at the beginning and end of the season, here are five games that will define the Patriots’ 2014 season.

5. Week 4: at Kansas City Chiefs

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Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

5. Week 4: at Kansas City Chiefs

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Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

The Chiefs went 11-5 in 2013 after starting the season 9-0 because their schedule was front-loaded with easier games. Once their schedule got more difficult, wins were much harder to come by. They had a meltdown in the second half of their Wild Card game against the Colts and lost 45-44. The early part of their schedule is brutal this season, and the Patriots need to capitalize and get a win against an AFC team that made the playoffs last season.

4. Week 7: vs. New York Jets

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Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

4. Week 7: vs. New York Jets

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Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

After playing at Kansas City in Week 4, the Bengals (playoff team from 2013) in Week 5 and at Buffalo (division games are usually tough) in Week 6, the Patriots get the Jets at home on a short week. The Jets' QB situation is less than ideal (Geno Smith starting and Michael Vick as the backup), but the Patriots expect to win the division and contend for the No. 1 seed in the AFC; plus they owe Jets for the OT Week 7 loss last season.

3. Week 11: at Indianapolis Colts

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David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

3. Week 11: at Indianapolis Colts

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David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

There are questions about their offensive line and RB Trent Richardson still hasn’t panned out (nine carries for 21 yards in Week 2 of the preseason), but they do have Andrew Luck. They are easily one of the top four teams in the AFC and could be in contention for one of the top two seeds for the playoffs. Both teams will be coming off their bye week, and the Patriots need to make sure they are prepared so they can secure the win.

2. Week 1: at Miami Dolphins

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Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

2. Week 1: at Miami Dolphins

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Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Patriots probably aren’t terrified of any QB on Miami’s roster, but this is the Patriots' first game of the season, it’s a division matchup and the Dolphins usually play the Patriots tough. The Pats want that No. 1 seed, so getting off to a quick start this season will be important. Leaving Miami with a win will definitely help the Patriots as they begin their quest to win the division and play in another Super Bowl.

1. Week 9: vs. Denver Broncos

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Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

1. Week 9: vs. Denver Broncos

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Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

If all goes as expected this could be the most important game on the Patriots’ schedule. Not because of Brady vs. Manning, but because this could potentially be the difference in obtaining the No. 1 seed. The AFC is the weaker conference, and the Patriots and Broncos are the two best teams. Everyone expects both of them to be back in the AFC Championship Game. Last season this game didn’t affect the playoff seeding, but it will this year.