New England Patriots: Predicting the third month of 2017 schedule

This is the third in a four-part series breaking down the 2017 schedule of the New England Patriots. Click here to get analysis and predictions for September and click here for October.

The third month of the upcoming season for the New England Patriots kicks off with a bye week. From there, November is set up to be a good test for the Patriots with road games against the Denver Broncos and Oakland Raiders in consecutive weeks. Then New England hosts the Miami Dolphins to close out the month with a visit to South Beach still to come.

Following are early predictions of how the third month of the 2017 schedule will play out…

Visiting Denver Broncos on Sunday, November 12th

The Broncos will no doubt be a different team this year under new head coach Vance Joseph. They will likely be more defensive-oriented, as Joseph comes from that background. Denver also could have a new quarterback in second-year player Paxton Lynch. This is one of the toughest games to call right now because the team could either be above or below average.  Lynch’s development will be the key, as it’s hard to imagine Trevor Siemian beating the Patriots in this spot. Last year, Siemian did not perform particularly well in a 16-3 home loss to New England. But the Broncos had virtually no running game either, and that’s how they have beaten the Pats before. Look for New England to get the job done again off the bye to improve to 8-1.

Visiting Oakland Raiders in Mexico City on Sunday, November 19th

The Raiders are just 1.5-point “home” underdogs in Mexico City, and with good reason. They might be the best team the Patriots face all season. With Oakland quarterback Derek Carr becoming the NFL’s highest-paid player, you can bet New England will want to prove a point here. That point being Tom Brady is still the unquestioned best signal caller in the league. Regardless, the Raiders have the kind of pressure defense that can bother Brady. Oakland’s Khalil Mack might be better than Denver’s Von Miller, and he will be the difference. The Raiders will pull off the minor upset and start talk that they are the team to beat in 2017.

Hosting Miami Dolphins on Sunday, November 26th

Whether or not you believe Dolphins wide receiver Jarvis Landry, his team has played the Pats tough at times in the past. That said, Miami still does not have the talent to defeat New England once, let alone twice, to pull off the Landry sweep. This is one of the few divisional tests for the Patriots though, and they will pass it with flying colors to improve to 9-2 heading into December.