New England Patriots

Ranking the top 10 most intriguing games on Patriots' schedule

The Patriots' 2024 slate includes several tough matchups against Super Bowl contenders

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The New England Patriots will have their work cut out for them in the first season of the post-Bill Belichick era.

New England's 2024 schedule features several difficult matchups against Super Bowl contenders, including the Cincinnati Bengals and San Francisco 49ers. With a new quarterback (rookie Drake Maye or veteran Jacoby Brissett), a new head coach (Jerod Mayo), and a new de facto general manager (Eliot Wolf), Pats fans could be in for another rocky ride.

Even if the on-field product still isn't up to par, there will be plenty of games worth watching this upcoming season. In addition to the games against championship-caliber teams, the Patriots will get to face off against rookie phenoms Caleb Williams (QB, Chicago Bears) and Marvin Harrison Jr. (wide receiver, Arizona Cardinals). They'll also be tasked with taking on the 2023 Offensive Rookie of the Year, Houston Texans QB C.J. Stroud.

Those are just a few of New England's intriguing matchups. Below, we ranked the top 10 of the 17 games on the Pats' schedule by entertainment factor.

10. Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 17 vs. Los Angeles Rams (1 p.m. ET)

The Patriots will take on the Rams for the first time since their 13-3 Super Bowl LIII victory, the final championship of the Tom Brady era in New England. New England's defense shut down Sean McVay's offense that night, but that was with Bill Belichick at the helm.

9. Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 20 at Jacksonville Jaguars (London, 9:30 a.m. ET)

Move this game all the way up to No. 1 if ex-Patriots QB Mac Jones is somehow starting for Jacksonville when these teams face off. For now, it ranks near the bottom of this list. The London aspect helps, plus the fact Maye could be the Patriots' starter by Week 7.

New England will look to redeem itself after an abysmal showing on the international stage last season in Germany.

8. Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 6 vs. Miami Dolphins (1 p.m. ET)

Tua Tagovailoa
Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa is 5-0 against the Patriots in his career.

The Mac Jones-led Patriots didn't have enough firepower to keep up with the high-octane Dolphins offense in 2023. They lost both matchups, though the first game in September came down to the wire.

If New England's defense plays at the same level or better than last season, and either Maye or Brissett is an upgrade from Jones, perhaps the Pats can beat Miami QB Tua Tagovailoa for the first time in six meetings.

7. Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 22 vs. Buffalo Bills (1 p.m. ET)

The Patriots won their Week 7 game against Buffalo last season and kept their Week 17 matchup close (27-21, Bills) despite three Bailey Zappe interceptions. This year, Bills QB Josh Allen will be without his No. 1 target Stefon Diggs.

Buffalo will be favored in both games against New England this season, but if those games with Jones and Zappe at QB were any indication, these matchups with Maye and/or Brissett should be even more entertaining.

Seeing how Jerod Mayo's defense -- which should be a strength for the team in 2024 -- handles Cooper Kupp, Puka Nacua, and the rest of this talented L.A. squad will be worth the price of admission at Gillette Stadium.

6. Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 15 at Arizona Cardinals (4:25 p.m. ET)

Marvin Harrison Jr.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
The Patriots' secondary will have its hands full against No. 4 pick Marvin Harrison Jr.

This game could result in some hot takes on what the Patriots should have done with the third overall pick in the 2024 draft. New England's defense will be tasked with slowing down the Cardinals' new top wide receiver, No. 4 overall selection Marvin Harrison Jr.

Even if Arizona remains one of the worst teams in the league, MHJ makes this a must-watch matchup.

5. Week 4: Sunday, Sept. 29 at San Francisco 49ers (4:05 p.m. ET)

Most sportsbooks unsurprisingly list the Niners with the first- or second-best odds to win it all after they fell to the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LVIII. Facing the reigning NFC champions on the road will be one of the Patriots' toughest tests in 2024.

It's an intriguing matchup for those who want to see how New England stacks up against one of the NFL's best teams. But if you're looking for a good game -- as in, one that will have you on the edge of your seat -- this probably isn't one you'll circle on your calendar.

4. Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 8 at Cincinnati Bengals (1 p.m. ET)

The Patriots have a tough 2024 schedule and one of their most difficult matchups will take place on the road in the season opener against Joe Burrow and the Bengals.

Cincinnati is a popular Super Bowl pick this season after a letdown year that was marred by Burrow missing seven games due to injuries. There's blowout potential if Burrow is healthy, but there's also a chance we get one of the most entertaining games of the Pats' campaign off the bat. It gets even more interesting if Maye is the Week 1 starter.

3. Week 3: Thursday, Sept. 19 at New York Jets (8:15 p.m. ET)

Assuming Aaron Rodgers is healthy, Pats-Jets games should be a fun watch this season. Last year's Week 18 matchup marked the Patriots' first loss to the Jets since 2015 -- ending a 15-game win streak against their division rival -- and first in regulation since 2011. With the Jets only getting better -- at least on paper -- the tides may have finally turned. There's a reason this one was picked for primetime.

2. Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 10 at Chicago Bears (1 p.m. ET)

Caleb Williams
Getty Images
No. 1 pick Caleb Williams vs. No. 3 pick Drake Maye would be a marquee matchup.

The obvious draw for this matchup is Chicago's No. 1 overall pick, quarterback Caleb Williams. A potentially generational talent, Williams is set up for success in the Bears offense with several weapons at his disposal.

Chicago stocked up on offensive talent this offseason by adding versatile running back D'Andre Swift, veteran wide receiver Keenan Allen, and first-round wideout Rome Odunze. The Bears passing attack should be fun to watch with DJ Moore still in the mix as well.

This matchup's appeal only increases if the Patriots' No. 3 pick Drake Maye is the Patriots' starting signal-caller. Jacoby Brissett vs. Caleb Williams doesn't quite have the same ring to it.

1. Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 13 vs. Houston Texans (1 p.m. ET)

C.J. Stroud
If Texans QB C.J. Stroud builds off his rookie campaign, he'll be in the MVP conversation by the end of 2024.

In a perfect world for Pats fans, Drake Maye would be this year's C.J. Stroud. Houston's No. 2 pick in the 2023 draft looks like the league's next superstar after earning Offensive Rookie of the Year honors and placing eighth in NFL MVP voting. He should be even better in his sophomore season with a true No. 1 wideout in Stefon Diggs and a reliable veteran running back in Joe Mixon.

Maye vs. Stroud at Gillette Stadium has a chance to be one of the most entertaining Patriots games of the 2024 season.

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