For just the third time in franchise history, the Patriots are off to an 8-0 start. In averaging 31.3 points per game while allowing just 7.6, they have not faced much resistance in the first half of the season. But that will likely change in the next five games, when the Patriots take on the Baltimore Ravens, Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys, Houston Texans, and Kansas City Chiefs.
Four of those five opponents are above .500, with the Eagles the exception at 4-4. All five are in contention for the playoffs. The Ravens (5-2), Cowboys (4-3), and Chiefs (5-3) are in first place in their respective divisions, while the Texans (5-3) and Eagles are in second place.
The Patriots have already faced the Jets twice, and will face the Dolphins and Bills for the second time in December.
Here’s a look at a few areas contrasting the first half of the Patriots schedule with the second.
|First eight games||Second eight games|
|Average ranking for total offense||26.4||13.5|
|Average ranking for total defense||20.5||18.1|
|Turnover differential totals||-32||-18|
Here’s a look at the remaining schedule:
Sunday at Baltimore (8:20 p.m., NBC): The Ravens have won three in a row and are coming off a bye. The AFC North leaders lead the league in rushing offense, gaining 204.1 yards per game. Quarterback Lamar Jackson is averaging 6.9 yards per carry, followed by running back Mark Ingram, who is averaging 4.7. They are second in total offense at 434.9 yards per game and points scored at 30.6, just behind the Patriots.
Nov. 10: Bye week.
Nov. 17 at Philadelphia (4:25 p.m., CBS): The Eagles are coming off an impressive win at Buffalo, wrapping up a tough three-game stretch on the road with a win after a couple of bad losses to the Minnesota Vikings and the Cowboys. They were able to pull within a half-game of the Cowboys for first place in the NFC East. They face the Bears Nov. 3 and are off in Week 10 before facing the Patriots.
Nov. 24 vs. Dallas (4:25 p.m., Fox): It’s been an up-and-down season for the Cowboys, who won their first three games, then dropped the next three before a Week 7 win against the Eagles. They have the No. 1 offense, averaging 437.9 total yards per game. Running back Ezekiel Elliott has rushed for 602 yards and 6 touchdowns on 135 carries. Quarterback Dak Prescott is completing 70.6 percent of his passes for 2,123 yards. They have the New York Giants, Vikings, and Detroit Lions before they head to Gillette.
Dec. 1 at Houston (8:20 p.m., NBC): The Texans have the No. 4 offense in the league, averaging 395 yards per game. Quarterback Deshaun Watson is leading the way, throwing for 2,231 yards. The defense took a hit when defensive end J.J. Watt was lost for the season after he suffered a torn pectoral in the win over the Raiders. Next four weeks: vs. Jacksonville in London, off, at Baltimore, vs. Indianapolis.
Dec. 8 vs. Kansas City (4:25 p.m., CBS): The Chiefs expect to have quarterback Patrick Mahomes (dislocated kneecap) back in plenty of time for this AFC Championship rematch. They continue to put up impressive numbers on offense and are just behind the Texans at 392.5 yards. Despite their struggles on defense, they still hold a comfortable lead in the AFC West and are 4-0 on the road so far.
Dec. 15 at Cincinnati (1 p.m., CBS): With the five-game stretch over, the Patriots will be on to Cincinnati, where the only question is whether the Bengals will have a win entering this game, or will they have to wait until the following week when they head to Miami.
Dec. 22 vs. Buffalo (TBA): The Bills defense posed all kinds of problems for the Patriots in Week 4, though the Patriots won, 16-10. Running back Frank Gore seemed to expose a bit of weakness in the defense, but quarterback Josh Allen is still struggling to protect the ball and does not appear capable of posing a threat.
Dec. 29 vs. Miami (1 p.m., TBA): The Dolphins didn’t present any sort of competition in Week 2, and it’s hard to imagine that changing in the regular-season finale. Right now, they are last in the league in turnover differential (minus-14) and points per game (11.0), second to last in total offense (254.6 yards), and third to last in passing and rushing.
Follow Andrew Mahoney on Twitter @GlobeMahoney.