The season opens on Thursday, September 7 in Foxboro. Here's a look at each of the Patriots' opponents this season and what they've done in the offseason.
There'll be headlines, and well-deserved ones. From Peter King:
[Dolphins wide receiver Jarvis] Landry told a London audience Monday night . . . [that] the Dolphins would beat New England twice this season, and that doing it with Tom Brady still in his prime would add to the satisfaction of his predicted sweep.
(Landry, incidentally, is with a group of NFL players and ex-players on a tour of the United Kingdown organized by NFL UK, described by King as "the league’s organization arm across the pond".)
But a day later, in a one-on-one conversation with King, Landry was a tad more diplomatic:
"If you're a competitor, that's the way you should feel, and I don't mind saying it. It's time for a change. I have all the respect in the world for the Patriots, and I respect Tom Brady tremendously. But they're not our big brother anymore."
"[Coach Adam Gase has] flipped the switch with us. New England's won the division 14 of the last 16 years, something like that? It's ridiculous. It's a problem. We cannot let that happen anymore. What I've seen is, when we play that game, sometimes we focus on the guys on the other side of the line instead of just focusing on us. And I want to be part of that change. I want to go into the games against New England expecting to win -- that's something we need to do."
Oddly, the Dolphins have had more success against the Patriots during the Pats' 2001-16 run of excellence than any other AFC East team. They're 10-22 against the Pats over the span, compared to the Jets' record of 9-25 (the teams met twice in the playoffs) and the Bills' horrific 4-28 mark. But no AFC East team has swept the Pats in a season series since 2000, when Miami and New York did it. Conversely, over the last 16 years the Pats have swept the Bills 12 times, the Jets 8 and the Dolphins 6.
In the most predictable bit of news ever, the Patriots top ESPN’s post-free agency power rankings.
Their placement on the rankings figured to be obvious, as they are the defending Super Bowl champions and have upgraded at wide receiver with the Brandin Cooks trade. The Cooks move, wich sent the 32nd overall pick to New Orleans, was acknowledged in the team's writeup:
"Did the Super Bowl LI champions really need to trade for 23-year-old receiver Brandin Cooks? Probably not," wrote ESPN.com. "But Cooks brings a big-play ability that hasn't been seen in New England in a while. Cooks has seven career 40-plus yard touchdowns. The Patriots have nine total in that time."
The Falcons follow the Patriots on the list, with the Packers moving up to No. 3 after signing former Patriots tight end Martellus Bennett. The Cowboys and Steelers round out the top five.
The next-closest AFC East team on the list is the Dolphins, who rank 15th. The Bills sit 26th and the Jets are at No. 30.