Patriots

Here's why Patriots' 2019 schedule could set them up for Super Bowl repeat

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Here's why Patriots' 2019 schedule could set them up for Super Bowl repeat

The New England Patriots will be the defending Super Bowl champions entering the 2019 NFL season, and the strength (or lack thereof) of their schedule should be among the reasons for optimism surrounding the team's chances of successfully defending its title.

The Patriots are tied with four other teams for the second-easiest 2019 schedule, based on opponents' combined win percentage from the 2018 campaign. New England's 2019 opponents had a 2018 win percentage of just .473, according to John Breech of CBS Sports. Only the Washington Redskins have an easier 2019 schedule.

Here's a look at New England's 2019 schedule. Keep in mind dates and times for all games have not yet been finalized. 

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Buffalo Bills
Miami Dolphins
New York Jets
Cleveland Browns
Pittsburgh Steelers
Dallas Cowboys
New York Giants
Kansas City Chiefs

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Buffalo Bills
Miami Dolphins
New York Jets
Baltimore Ravens
Cincinnati Bengals
Houston Texans
Philadelphia Eagles
Washington Redskins

The Patriots, as winners of the AFC East, will again play a first-place schedule. However, they also will play the AFC North and the NFC East. The NFC East is a competitive division but it's not home to any juggernauts. Same for the AFC North, which could have four solid teams in 2019 thanks to the Cleveland Browns' resurgence, but there's no elite team that will scare the rest of the conference.

And, of course, the Patriots will play six games against the lackluster AFC East. New England went 5-1 against its division rivals last season, and that only loss was the disaster against the Dolphins in Miami.

The Patriots went 11-5 in the 2018 regular season before a dominant playoff run that ended with a Super Bowl LIII victory over the Los Angeles Rams. It was the Pats' worst regular-season record since 2009. The odds of the Patriots failing to win 12-plus games next season should be pretty low, especially when you factor in their easy schedule and the fact that the Kansas City Chiefs matchup will again be at Gillette Stadium.

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Bill Belichick tells media to ask Robert Kraft about Antonio Brown apology

Bill Belichick tells media to ask Robert Kraft about Antonio Brown apology

One of Bill Belichick's cardinal press conference rules is that he only talks about players who are in the building.

So, it's no surprise he swatted away a question about one of his former employees Wednesday.

The Patriots head coach was asked about former New England wide receiver Antonio Brown apologizing to team owner Robert Kraft on social media Tuesday and quickly deferred to his boss.

"You'd have to talk to Robert about that," Belichick said.

"I mean, every week you guys ask me about a player who's not on our team, and every week it's going to be the same answer."

Brown was on the Patriots for about two weeks before New England released him amid allegations of rape, sexual assault and sexual misconduct.

Brown's conduct as those allegations came out reportedly "enraged" Kraft and may have been the last straw for the Patriots in releasing him.

Considering Brown directed his apology at Kraft, the Patriots owner may in fact be the best person to ask about the 30-year-old free agent, who is under NFL investigation but reportedly is hopeful he'll be cleared to play later this season.

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Patriots punter Jake Bailey wins AFC Special Teams Player of the Week after great performance

Patriots punter Jake Bailey wins AFC Special Teams Player of the Week after great performance

New England Patriots punter Jake Bailey might be the most impressive rookie from the team's 2019 NFL Draft class. 

The NFL announced Wednesday that Bailey is the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week winner for Week 12. He also won this award after the Patriots' Week 3 win over the New York Jets.

Bailey put on a punting clinic in New England's 17-10 win over the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday. The Stanford product had six punts inside the 20-yard line and five punts that went over 50 yards. His punts helped the Patriots win the field position battle and forced the Eagles to go on long scoring drives. Bailey's kicks were among the primary factors in the Patriots holding the Eagles scoreless through the final three quarters.

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick praised Bailey's ability to pin the Eagles deep in their own territory amid the difficult kicking conditions in Philly.

“Yeah. I’d say at Stanford, not a lot of tough conditions out there – out there playing Arizona State and Arizona and UCLA and all. But he’s had a lot of, I would say, challenging conditions out here – both in the spring, and then as we’ve gone through the regular season," Belichick told reporters after Sunday's victory. "This year there have been days out there where it’s been cold, rainy, windy and I think he learned something every day. There’s cross winds and there’s winds in your face and it’s kicking with the wind and all that. There’s challenges in every one of them. If you’re kicking with the wind, that’s an advantage to the punter, but handling the snap, which is coming back into the wind, wobbles and things like that. It’s a little tougher snap for the snapper.

"He’s done a good job of, I would say, adapting to the conditions. He’s still got a long way to go. I’m sure he’ll learn a lot more as the season goes along, but between the holding, the kickoffs and the punting in various conditions and certainly situational football, which came up today. You know, the end-of-the-game punts and backed-up punts and plus 50-punts and the kickoffs and so forth. There were a lot of situations. But he’s a great kid. He works hard. He’s really played well for us this entire season and he’s been so valuable to this team and he proved it out there today. I wish he could have recovered that fumble, but he’s been great for us.”

Belichick doesn't often give that level of praise to a rookie, but it's certainly warranted in Bailey's case. He's been a tremendous asset to the Patriots not only as a punter, but also as the holder on field goals and player handling kickoff duties. That's the kind of versatility Belichick values so much.

Phil Perry: Jake Bailey, special teams excel in Week 12 report card>>>

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