Patriots

New NFL schedule study finds Patriots have easiest road to Super Bowl LIV

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New NFL schedule study finds Patriots have easiest road to Super Bowl LIV

There hasn't been a repeat Super Bowl champion since the New England Patriots accomplished the feat in 2003 and 2004.

Fifteen years later, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are hoping to become the second head coach/quarterback duo to win back-to-back titles twice. The only duo to do it was Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Chuck Noll and quarterback Terry Bradshaw. Noll and Bradshaw both are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and Brady and Belichick will one day join them.

Just getting to the Super Bowl again would be a historic accomplishment for the Patriots. It would make them the second team ever to reach the Super Bowl four consecutive seasons, joining the Buffalo Bills of the early 1990s.

What are the chances of the Patriots advancing to another Super Bowl?

John Breech of CBS Sports recently did a ranking assessing the difficulty of each team's path to Super Bowl LIV in Miami. The formula used three main factors: schedule difficulty, Super Bowl odds and the first three games of the season. Breech found that teams starting worse than 2-1 over the first three weeks rarely wind up in either the AFC or NFC Championship Game.

The Patriots actually have the easiest road. Here's what CBS Sports had to say about the Patriots' path.

32. New England Patriots

Based on our formula, the team with the easiest road to Super Bowl LIV is the New England Patriots, which probably won't come as a surprise to anyone, because the Patriots seem to have the easiest road every year. Although it seems like a vast NFL conspiracy to keep the Patriots on top, the fact of the matter is that we really just need to blame the Jets, Bills and Dolphins for not being competitive at all over the past 20 years. Anyway, we should probably just all save ourselves some time and go ahead and pencil them the Patriots in for the Super Bowl. 

Schedule difficulty rating: 84.375

The team with the toughest path to Super Bowl LIV is the Chicago Bears.

In case you forgot, here's the Patriots' 2019 regular season schedule.

Week 1: vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (Sunday, Sept. 8 at 8:20 p.m.)
Week 2: at Miami Dolphins (Sunday, Sept. 15 at 1 p.m.)
Week 3: vs. New York Jets (Sunday, Sept. 22 at 1 p.m.)
Week 4: at Buffalo Bills (Sunday, Sept. 29 at 1 p.m.)
Week 5: at Washington Redskins (Sunday, Oct. 6 at 1 p.m.)
Week 6: vs. New York Giants (Thursday, Oct. 10 at 8:20 p.m.)
Week 7: at New York Jets (Monday, Oct. 21 at 8:15 p.m.)
Week 8: vs. Cleveland Browns (Sunday, Oct. 27 at 4:25 p.m.)
Week 9: at Baltimore Ravens (Sunday, Nov. 3 at 8:20 p.m.)
Week 10 Bye
Week 11: at Philadelphia Eagles (Sunday, Nov. 17 at 4:25 p.m.)
Week 12: vs. Dallas Cowboys (Sunday, Nov. 24 at 4:25 p.m.)
Week 13: at Houston Texans (Sunday, Dec. 1 at 8:20 p.m.)
Week 14: vs. Kansas City Chiefs (Sunday, Dec. 8 at 4:25 p.m.)
Week 15: at Cincinnati Bengals (Sunday, Dec. 15 at 1 p.m.)
Week 16: vs. Buffalo Bills (Saturday, Dec. 21 or Sunday, Dec. 22, time TBD)
Week 17: vs. Miami Dolphins (Sunday, Dec. 29 at 1 p.m.)

If you go by a strict strength of schedule ranking, which CBS did not do in its study, the Patriots have the second-easiest schedule in 2019 based on their opponents' win percentage (.473) from 2018. 

The Patriots went 11-5 last season, and it was their worst record since 2009. They did not secure homefield throughout the AFC playoffs, but they overcame it by defeating the Kansas City Chiefs in overtime at Arrowhead Stadium to win the AFC Championship Game.

New England's schedule for 2019 has the defending champs well-positioned to earn the conference's top seed and ensure the road to Super Bowl LIV again goes down Route 1 in Foxboro. 

Click for where Patriots stand in latest Super Bowl LIV odds>>>

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New Patriots WR Mohamed Sanu ranks among leaders in this important star

New Patriots WR Mohamed Sanu ranks among leaders in this important star

The No. 1 goal for wide receivers is to get open, and Mohamed Sanu does a very good job of accomplishing that.

Sanu reportedly was traded from the Atlanta Falcons to the New England Patriots in exchange for a 2020 second-round draft pick Tuesday, and he will provide much-needed depth for a Pats receiving corps that's battled plenty of injuries and other depth concerns over the first half of the season.

One of the talents Sanu brings to the Patriots is the ability to separate from opposing defensive backs and get open. In fact, he ranks in the top five of all NFL wideouts in average yards of separation when targeted. Take a look at the leaderboard below:

Sanu has tallied 33 receptions for 313 yards and one touchdown in seven games for the Falcons this season. He joined the Falcons via free agency in 2016 and quickly established himself as one of Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan's most trusted targets.

Leaving the Falcons, who are 1-6 and headed for a second consecutive season without playoff action, gives the 30-year-old veteran a fantastic opportunity to win the first Super Bowl of his career. Sanu came tantalizing close to winning the Lombardi Trophy in Super Bowl LI, but Tom Brady and the Patriots broke the Falcons' hearts with a comeback for the ages.

Tom E. Curran's takeaways from the Sanu trade>>>

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Odell Beckham Jr. to give Tom Brady a fitting gift at Patriots-Browns

Odell Beckham Jr. to give Tom Brady a fitting gift at Patriots-Browns

How big of a Tom Brady fan is Odell Beckham Jr.?

Big enough that he plans to hand-deliver a pair of custom-made cleats to the New England Patriots quarterback when his Cleveland Browns come to town next Sunday.

Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon-Journal has the details:

Nothing like a pair of "goat hair" cleats to show respect to one of your NFL idols.

Beckham's love affair with Brady goes way back, as the two exchanged jerseys after a New York Giants-Patriots preseason game in 2016.

Beckham and Brady since have exchanged several compliments on social media, with the former repeatedly using the "goat" emoji to confirm he believes Brady is the greatest QB of all time.

The Browns obviously will be trying to stop the Patriots on Sunday, but apparently that won't stop Beckham from showing his appreciation for their quarterback.

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