Strange but true: the New England Patriots, who won the AFC East with a 13-3 record and advanced all the way to the Super Bowl, won just a single game in 2011 against a team that finished the year with a winning record -- and that includes the playoffs.
To be fair, they only had four opportunities (the Steelers, Ravens and Giants twice) in 19 games, thanks to what turned out to be a surprisingly soft schedule. Fortunately for them, the schedule-makers were just as kind in 2012: New England's strength of schedule for 2012 ranks dead last among the NFL's 32 teams. The combined 2011 winning percentage of this year's opponents is .453, with only four games against teams that posted a winning record last year.
The highlights for the Patriots' 2012 schedule include four scheduled prime time games, including Thanksgiving night in New York against the Jets, a Sunday night game against the Ravens in Week 3 and a Monday night game against the Texans in Week 14. The Patriots host the Broncos in Week 5, a rematch of last year's AFC Divisional round playoff game that will have a completely different feel following Peyton Manning's arrival in Denver. And in Week 8, the Patriots will head to Europe to face the Rams in the league's annual London game.
Here's New England's complete 2012 schedule:
Week 1: Sept. 9 at Tennessee Titans
Week 2: Sept. 16 Arizona Cardinals
Week 3: Sept. 23 at Baltimore Ravens
Week 4: Sept. 30 at Buffalo Bills
Week 5: Oct. 7 Denver Broncos
Week 6: Oct. 14 at Seattle Seahawks
Week 7: Oct. 21 New York Jets
Week 8: Oct. 28 at St. Louis Rams (in London)
Week 9: Bye
Week 10: Nov. 11 Buffalo Bills
Week 11: Nov. 18 Indianapolis Colts
Week 12: Nov. 22 at New York Jets (Thanksgiving Day)
Week 13: Dec. 2 at Miami Dolphins
Week 14: Dec. 10 Houston Texans
Week 15: Dec. 16 San Francisco 49ers
Week 16: Dec. 23 at Jacksonville Jaguars
Week 17: Dec. 30 Miami Dolphins