Last season, the Patriots were 1-6 on the road, not including their Week 7 victory against the Buccaneers in London, which was technically considered a road game. They didn?t win their first true road game until Week 15 in Buffalo — the Patriots’ sixth road contest of the year — and their defeats were of the agonizing variety: Blown lead in New York, blown chances in an overtime loss to Denver, a face plant in Indy, a blowout in New Orleans and another case of missed opportunities in Miami.
The crux of the problem was traced to a lack of leadership and late-game determination, evidenced by rants from Tom Brady and Wes Welker after the loss in Miami.
It was a surprising display of futility for the Patriots, who were 21-3 in regular-season road games from 2006-08. They were also 47-17 in regular-season road games from 2001-08, slightly worse than their 50-14 home record during that span. And oddly enough, the Patriots were actually better on the road than at home from 2005-08, when they were 26-6 on the road and 23-9 at home.
New England has a challenging set of road games in 2010, visiting the Jets in Week 2, the Dolphins in Week 4, the Chargers in Week 7, the Browns in Week 9, the Steelers in Week 10, the Lions in Week 12, the Bears in Week 14 and the Bills in Week 16.
Obviously, the division games will be difficult, and San Diego won’t be much of a picnic either, especially a week after the Patriots play the Ravens. Cleveland, Detroit and Chicago are all very beatable, so the Patriots will have to take advantage of those games to compensate for the tougher ones.
The Pats have a pretty brutal schedule in 2010, both at home and on the road. If they only manage one road victory this season, they won’t have a chance to make it back to the playoffs.
NESN.com will be answering one Patriots question every day until July 24.
Sunday, July 18: Who will emerge as the Patriots’ most dynamic kick returner?
Tuesday, July 20: Should Wes Welker resume his duties as the Patriots’ primary punt returner?