Tom Brady isn’t going to fall off a cliff this season and Bill Belichick hasn’t changed his ways nearly as much as some talk-radio hosts would like you to believe.
However, the Patriots juggernaut definitely seems to be well into the back nine of its reign of dominance. The end is finally in sight, it seems, but that’s more a testament to the fact that nothing lasts forever.
New England enters the 2018 season far from a perfect team. There are major questions at wide receiver, on the offensive line and in the defensive secondary. But when you play in a perennially horrendous division where 5-1, at the least, is a guarantee, and your schedule is absent of many tough road games, you still have to like your chances to at least make the playoffs.
So the Patriots will win their 13 games in 2018. They’ll annex yet another AFC East championship, they’ll avoid wild-card weekend and host a divisional round playoff game.
But according to my calculations, those aforementioned questions and problems will come back to haunt them in the AFC Championship matchup against a more talented Pittsburgh Steelers team -- and maybe, just maybe, the inevitable end of this incredible run will inch closer.
Hey, it’s going to happen some time. That’s the nature of sports.