It was quite the wild ride for New England Patriots fans during the 2020 offseason. We're still not quite sure fans ever expected Tom Brady to actually leave the team via free agency but that's what actually happened. The reality sent shockwaves through the fanbase and some have even questioned the direction of the franchise. Questioning Bill Belichick has proven unwise in the past, but it's obvious that he has his toughest challenge ahead during the 2020 season.

The club has uncertainty at the most important position in the sport for the first time since before they drafted Drew Bledsoe with the top overall pick in the 1993 NFL Draft. Currently, second-year signal caller Jarrett Stidham has the inside track to win the job to usher in the post-Brady era. 

Whoever is under center to begin the 2020 season has their work cut out for them as this campaign is expected to be a difficult one as they'll face a number of elite quarterbacks and head out west for a number of contests. Below, you'll see a week-by-week rundown of the Patriots' 2020 schedule as well as a list of their prime-time games and how tough their road ranks across the league in terms of strength of schedule. 

The Pick Six Podcast gang fired up a new episode breaking down every eye-catching aspect of the NFL's schedule release. Give it a listen below, and be sure to subscribe on your favorite podcast platform:

2020 schedule

  • Week 1, Sept. 13: vs. Dolphins, 1 p.m., CBS
  • Week 2, Sept 20: at Seahawks (Sunday Night Football), 8:20 p.m., NBC
  • Week 3, Sept. 27: vs. Raiders, 1 p.m., CBS 
  • Week 4, Oct. 4: at Chiefs, 4:25 p.m., CBS 
  • Week 5, Oct. 11: vs. Broncos, 1 p.m., CBS 
  • Week 6: BYE WEEK
  • Week 7, Oct. 25: vs. 49ers, 4:25 p.m., CBS 
  • Week 8, Nov. 1: at Bills, 1 p.m., CBS 
  • Week 9, Nov 9: at Jets (Monday Night Football), 8:15 p.m., ESPN 
  • Week 10, Nov. 15: vs. Ravens (Sunday Night Football), 8:20 p.m., NBC 
  • Week 11, Nov. 22: at Texans, 1 p.m., CBS 
  • Week 12, Nov. 29: vs. Cardinals, 1 p.m., Fox 
  • Week 13, Dec. 6: at Chargers, 4:25 p.m., CBS 
  • Week 14, Dec. 10: at Rams (Thursday Night Football), 8:20 p.m., Fox, NFL Network and Amazon 
  • Week 15, Dec. 20: at Dolphins, 1 p.m., CBS 
  • Week 16, Dec. 28: vs. Bills (Monday Night Football), 8:15 p.m., ESPN 
  • Week 17, Jan. 3: vs. Jets, 1 p.m., CBS 

Home opener

The Patriots will begin the season hosting the Miami Dolphins in a Week 1 contest that will have no shortage of storylines. This will, of course, be the first game for New England in the post-Tom Brady era and could be the first-ever start for second-year quarterback Jarrett Stidham, who currently has the inside track at the starting job. Along with that angle, the Patriots will see their old friend in Dolphins head coach Brian Flores, who was New England's de facto defensive coordinator before taking the Miami gig last season. Flores could also be trotting out No. 5 overall pick Tua Tagovailoa for his first NFL start. 

The Patriots are one of the most interesting teams heading into 2020 and Sportsline has you covered with game-by-game betting trends and more.

Toughest stretch

New England will have tough pockets throughout the 2020 campaign, but there's arguably no spot more daunting than from Week 10-14. After taking on the New York Jets on Monday Night Football, the Patriots will have a short week to prepare for Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday Night Football. After that, they'll face a couple of elite quarterbacks in Deshaun Watson (Week 11) and Kyler Murray (12). From there. they'll have to travel out west to take on both L.A. teams. 

Prime-time games

As noted above in the week-by-week schedule rundown, the Patriots will be playing five prime-time games in 2020. Two of those will be at Gillette Stadium, while they'll be hitting the road for three of them. In 2019, New England had five prime-time games and went 3-2 in those contests. They were able to edge out the Pittsburgh Steelers in the opener on Sunday Night Football and beat the Giants and Jets on Thursday and Monday, respectfully. They fell, however, to the Baltimore Ravens during a Week 9 matchup on Sunday Night Football and lost another prime-time matchup to the Texans in Week 13 to put a bow on the Sunday slate.  

Strength of schedule

Earlier this offseason, John Breech broke down the 2020 strength of schedule for all 32 NFL teams based on combined opponent winning percentage in 2019. The Patriots will face the most difficult schedule in 2020. For a complete look at every team's strength of schedule, check out Breech's breakdown here.

However, when basing strength of schedule on the over/under win totals for each team's opponents during the 2020 season at William Hill, the Patriots go from facing the most schedule in the league to facing the 13th-toughest schedule. For a complete look at every team's strength of schedule using this methodology, check out Jared Dubin's full breakdown here.