The New England Patriots won't have many easy opponents during the 2020 NFL season.
The Patriots will be playing a first-place schedule as reigning AFC East champs, and making matters worse is they have to play the NFC West on the divisional rotation. That means difficult matchups against four quality non-conference teams -- the Seattle Seahawks, Los Angeles Rams, Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers.
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In fact, if you look at opponents' win percentage from the 2019 season, the Patriots have the league's toughest schedule for 2020.
Patriots cornerback Jonathan Jones did a video call with reporters Tuesday, and he had a simple reaction when asked about the team's grueling upcoming schedule.
"First of all, I'd say I guess I'm conditioned by Bill (Belichick). I've been here for going on five years. I'm conditioned to just know every year is a new year, every team is a new team," Jones said. "Everybody has changes and their winning percentages from last year kind of doesn't matter. You know, teams will go 0-6 to start and then pick up better. So, just taking it one day at a time. I think the first thing we have to do is get in training camp and figure out who we are as a team. That's where it's really going to start. And then, like I said, teams evolve as the season goes on, as every year. But we have to figure out who we are first. The other teams really don't matter at this point."
It's going to be more important than ever for the Patriots to start fast in 2020.
They have five games before a Week 6 bye, and that stretch only includes two games versus playoff teams from last season. One of the games against a playoff team -- the Seahawks in Week 2 -- might be played in Seattle without fans, which could make New England's task easier. Earning a 3-2 or 4-1 record prior to the bye would be very beneficial for the Patriots because they play four playoff-caliber teams from Week 7 through Week 11, includes matchups against the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers.
Luckily for the Patriots, most of their players are familiar with playing a difficult schedule. These players also have plenty of playoff experience. Another plus for New England is the presence of head coach Bill Belichick, who prepares his team on a weekly basis better than any coach in the league.
So, while the Patriots certainly have a tough road back to the playoffs and the Super Bowl in 2020, the team's experience and superior coaching gives them advantages over many other teams.
Jonathan Jones has simple reaction to Patriots having toughest NFL schedule originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston