New England Patriots' schedule has ideal bye week after nine games

Riddick picks Patriots to win 12 games in 2019 (1:50)

Louis Riddick predicts that the Patriots will have a 12-4 record, losing to the Dolphins, Jets, Chiefs and Ravens. (1:50)

The NFL has released its 2019 regular-season schedule. Here's a look at what's in store for the New England Patriots:

Game-by-game prediction

Patriots reporter Mike Reiss is predicting an 11-5 finish:

Sept. 8: vs. Pittsburgh, Win

Sept. 15: at Miami, Win

Sept. 22: vs. N.Y. Jets, Win

Sept. 29: at Buffalo, Loss

Oct. 6: at Washington, Win

Oct. 10: vs. N.Y. Giants, Win

Oct. 21: at N.Y. Jets, Loss

Oct. 27: vs. Cleveland, Win

Nov. 3: at Baltimore, Loss

Nov. 17: at Philadelphia, Loss

Nov. 24: vs. Dallas, Win

Dec. 1: at Houston, Win

Dec. 8: vs. Kansas City, Loss

Dec. 15: at Cincinnati, Win

Dec. 21/22: vs. Buffalo, Win

Dec. 29: vs. Miami, Win

Strength of schedule: T-27th, .473


This marks the fourth consecutive season in which the bye week is in a great spot for the Patriots. Getting a break after the ninth game almost splits the season into two even halves, which gives players and coaches a nice midseason break. Last season, the bye came after 10 games. In 2016 and 2017, it was after eight games. In 2015, it was in the fourth week of the season, which wasn't ideal. Another nice wrinkle to the 2019 schedule: This marks the third straight season that the Patriots' final two games are at home, which is a holiday and New Year's gift of sorts. But those who enjoy 1 p.m. ET starts at home will note the team has just one early in the season -- in Week 3. Finally, home fans get a nice break from colder prime-time games, as the team's two home night games are on Sept. 8 (Steelers) and Oct. 10 (Giants). The other three prime-time games are on the road. Of course, there's always the possibility of one more home game being flexed to prime time. The Patriots will face the Browns in Week 8, Ravens in Week 9 and Eagles in Week 11 when those teams are coming off their bye. New England is coming off its own bye as well against Philadelphia, but Brian Burke, of ESPN's Sports Analytics department, notes that the Patriots have the worst net rest-day differential of any team in 2019 at minus-13.

No December/January weather trip to Miami

The Patriots' Week 2 visit to Miami stands out as a break from recent routine. Consider that the team's past four trips to South Florida were Dec. 9, Dec. 11, Jan. 1 and Jan. 3. The last time the Patriots had such an early road game in Miami was the 2014 season opener, which they lost 33-20. In the two seasons prior to that, they had December games in Miami. Making the transition from New England's colder winter to Florida's warmer climates at that time of year is often a hot topic of discussion, but that is off the agenda this season. Knowing there is now an early game in Florida, similar to last season's Week 2 game in Jacksonville, it wouldn't be a surprise if coach Bill Belichick highlights the importance of conditioning in training camp even more than he usually does.

Historic banner-raising with Steelers in town

When the Patriots beat the Rams in Super Bowl LIII, it was their record-tying sixth Super Bowl championship. The Steelers are the only other franchise in the NFL with six. So consider the prime-time scene on Sunday, Sept. 8, when the Steelers are in town as the Patriots unveil their sixth banner. It is a matchup of Super Bowl royalty. The Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers are tied with five Super Bowl titles apiece.