"Wake me up when September ends..."
I'm not sure who's said it more ... Billy Joe Armstrong or Bill Belichick.
If you HAVE to play the Patriots, there's not a better time to do it than the first month of the season. Last year, the Pats were 2-2 in September. The two losses were to the Lions and the Jags. Neither of those teams made the playoffs.
Two years ago, the Pats started 2-2 and they lost their home opener to the Chiefs by 15 points.
I'm not sure you ever really want to play New England. They've gone to the AFC Championship game in eight straight years.
They've owned the NFL for two decades. If you do have to play them, though, September seems like the time to do it.