The Patriots will be heavily challenged in the 2020 NFL season for more reasons than one.

For starters, the upcoming campaign will mark the franchise’s first in the post-Tom Brady era. New England also happens to own the league’s toughest 2020 schedule, as nearly half of its games come against teams that reached the playoffs last season.

Colin Cowherd is confident Bill Belichick and Co. will be able to take care of business against inferior opponents, but he believes it will otherwise be a less-than-stellar season in Foxboro.

“Let’s look at New England’s schedule. It is ranked as the hardest schedule in the NFL for the first time in recent memory. It’s the hardest schedule” Cowherd said Wednesday on FS1’s “The Herd.” “So, I think the Patriots beat the bad teams at home: Dolphins, Jets, Raiders and Cardinals with Jarrett Stidham. All four of those, bottom-half offenses. New England is going to have an elite defense, so they’re going to beat the bad teams at home. I think they lose to Buffalo, Denver, San Francisco and Baltimore at home. Buffalo made the playoffs and lost to the Patriots by one possession both times, Denver is my most improved team in the NFL. Now, the Patriots’ road games. I’ll say they beat the Dolphins on the road, the Jets. I’ll throw in the Chargers because they’re figuring out the quarterback position. The five road games I think they lose: Bills, Chiefs, Rams, Seahawks, Texans. All won nine or more games last year. I think three of those five are better. That’s 7-9 for the Patriots.”

Should Cowherd’s prediction come to fruition, it will mark the Patriots’ first season with a below-.500 record since 2000, the only campaign of Brady’s 20-year New England stint in which he wasn’t the starting quarterback.

As for Brady’s new team, Cowherd sees the recharged Tampa Bay Buccaneers posting a 10-6 record in 2020.

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