Patriots schedule 2023: Ranking New England's toughest opponents

Ranking the Patriots' toughest opponents for the 2023 season originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The New England Patriots have their work cut out for them as they look to bounce back in 2023.

They'll enter the season with the fourth-toughest schedule in the NFL based on opponents' 2022 win percentage. Nine of their 17 games will come against playoff teams, including home games against the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs and the runner-up Philadelphia Eagles.

2023 Patriots schedule: Dates for all 17 regular season games

The Patriots also will play one of their home games in Germany against the Indianapolis Colts as part of the NFL International Series. As for their division, the AFC East improved over the offseason with Aaron Rodgers joining the New York Jets. Altogether, that sets up a challenging season for a team looking for better results after missing the playoffs.

Here are all 14 teams the Patriots will face next season, ranked in order of difficulty from easiest matchups to toughest.

14. Washington Commanders

2022 record: 8-8-1, fourth in NFC East

The Patriots will welcome the Commanders to Gillette Stadium in Week 9. If Washington doesn't fix its QB and o-line issues, New England's defense should feast. As of today, it's up to 2022 fifth-rounder Sam Howell to lead the offense and Jacoby Brissett could also make some starts under center. It's hard to imagine either option getting the better of Belichick and the Patriots defense in Foxboro.

13. Indianapolis Colts

2022 record: 4-12-1, third in AFC South

The Patriots will play one of their "home" games in Frankfurt, Germany against Indy in Week 10. It's one of their easier matchups on paper, but playing overseas rather than at Gillette Stadium raises the difficulty just a tad.

In Week 9 of the 2022 season, the Patriots' defense had a field day against Indy's rookie quarterback Sam Ehlinger, resulting in a 26-3 win. Another rookie signal-caller likely will be tasked with going up against Bill Belichick and the Pats in 2023.

The Colts selected Florida star Anthony Richardson with the fourth overall pick of this year’s NFL Draft. It’s difficult to imagine him faring any worse than Ehlinger did last season, but Indianapolis still seems like one of the easiest games on the schedule. The success rate for first-year QBs against Belichick isn’t high.


The Patriots sacked Sam Ehlinger nine times in their 26-3 win over the Colts.

12. New Orleans Saints

2022 record: 7-10, third in NFC South

The Patriots will visit the Saints in Week 5. New Orleans improved by signing ex-Raiders QB Derek Carr to a four-year deal during the offseason. That should be a significant boost for a team that tallied seven wins last season despite Andy Dalton starting 14 games.

11. Denver Broncos

2022 record: 5-12, fourth in AFC West

To call the 2022 Broncos a dumpster fire would be a massive understatement. They were the laughingstock of the NFL with Russell Wilson looking like a shell of himself and since-fired head coach Nathaniel Hackett looking overmatched. Perhaps Sean Payton will be able to get Denver back on the right path, but we'll believe it when we see it.

The one caveat here is this will be a road game for the Patriots. Even if the Broncos' offense remains dysfunctional, it could be a weird Christmas Eve game at Mile High against a tough Denver D. I wouldn't chalk this one down as a win just yet.

10. Las Vegas Raiders

2022 record: 6-11, third in AFC West

Jimmy Garoppolo will replace Derek Carr and reunite with Josh McDaniels in Las Vegas, setting up an intriguing Week 6 showdown at Gillette Stadium. Along with superstar wideout DaVante Adams, Garoppolo will get to throw to Jakobi Meyers after the ex-Pats wideout signed a three-year, $ 33 million contract in the offseason. Get ready to watch that infamous Meyers lateral over and over again heading into the matchup.


Jakobi Meyers' lateral landed in the hands of Chandler Jones, who returned it for the Raiders' game-winning TD.

9. Pittsburgh Steelers

2022 record: 9-8, third in AFC North

The Patriots will travel to Pittsburgh for the second consecutive season, and they can expect a tougher matchup than last year's 17-14 win. The Steelers will get a full season of the Kenny Pickett/George Pickens connection that propelled them to seven wins over their last nine games. A healthy T.J. Watt is also a major factor as he could make it a long day for New England's offensive line. This Week 14 showdown will be a sneaky tough game.


Mitch Trubisky was under center for the Steelers when the Patriots won last year's matchup, 17-14.

8. New York Giants

2022 record: 9-7-1, third in NFC East

The Giants will host the Patriots in Week 12. This could be a challenging trip for the Patriots. New York, led by franchise QB Daniel Jones (signed four-year, $ 160M contract in offseason) took a significant step forward under head coach Brian Daboll in 2022.

7. Los Angeles Chargers

2022 record: 10-7, second in AFC West

The Chargers will come to Foxboro in Week 13 for the first time since 2019 and they'll aim to earn their first win at Gillette Stadium since 2005. New England has won seven straight games against the Chargers dating back to 2010.

Justin Herbert is capable of ending that streak, but L.A. has no shortage of holes to fix on its roster. If this matchup took place today, Rhamondre Stevenson would have the time of his life against the Chargers' lackluster run defense.

6. Miami Dolphins

2022 record: 9-8, second in AFC East

The Patriots split their season series with the Dolphins in 2022, though their win was a narrow one against third-string QB Skylar Thompson. A healthy Tua Tagovailoa could continue to make life difficult for Belichick and Co. He's 4-0 against the Patriots in his career and if he carries his 2022 success into 2023, Miami's offense will be a problem.

The Buffalo Bills are the class of the AFC East, but the Dolphins could also once again stand in the Patriots' way of a playoff spot in 2023.


The Patriots split the 2022 season series vs. Miami, but Tua Tagovailoa is 4-0 against New England in his career.

5. New York Jets

2022 record: 7-10, fourth in AFC East

Aaron Rodgers gives the Jets the best chance they’ve had in years of ending their current losing skid against the Patriots. Not only that, but the Jets currently have the second-best odds to win the AFC East at +230, per DraftKings. Both games against New York last season were nail-biters and with the offense set to be much-improved, this year’s meetings won’t be cakewalks either.


The Patriots haven't lost to the Jets since 2015.

4. Dallas Cowboys

2022 record: 12-5, second in NFC East

The Patriots will make a trip to Dallas in Week 4. If they don't fix their offensive line woes ahead of the new campaign, Micah Parsons and the Dallas defense will dominate.

The Patriots hosted the Cowboys in 2021 and fell 35-29 in overtime.

3. Philadelphia Eagles

2022 record: 14-3, first in NFC East

Jalen Hurts and the Eagles will visit the Patriots in Week 1 after coming up just short of a Super Bowl title. They will test Mac Jones and Co. right out of the gate with one of the league's best defenses and an MVP-caliber quarterback who has several weapons at his disposal.

2. Buffalo Bills

2022 record: 13-3, first in AFC East

The tables have turned in the Patriots-Bills rivalry. After dominating the Bills throughout the Tom Brady era, the Patriots have lost six of their last seven games against their AFC East foe. Their one win was the Dec. 2021 matchup in which Mac Jones completed two passes in wind that gusted up to 50 miles per hour. As long as Josh Allen is the guy under center for Buffalo, the Patriots will face an uphill battle trying to reclaim the top spot in the division.


The Bills have beaten the Patriots in four straight matchups.

1. Kansas City Chiefs

2022 record: 14-3, first in AFC West

The reigning Super Bowl champions will travel to Foxboro in Week 15. Putting them in the No. 1 spot doesn't require much explanation. Even if the Patriots offense improves in 2023, it’s hard to picture them having enough firepower to keep up with Patrick Mahomes. This game will show just how far away the Patriots still are from competing with the top dogs in the AFC.