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I didn’t expect the Patriots to have so many growing pains in 2017

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The Patriots took some time to heat up.

Miami Dolphins v New England Patriots Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Every week SB Nation asks their writers to discuss a common topic. This week’s discussion is what we didn’t expect to see from our team this season. What has surprised you?

The New England Patriots started the season 2-2 and on rocky footing. They had the worst defense in the league and one of the best offenses. For a team that was projected to go undefeated, an opening week loss to the Kansas City Chiefs and the ensuing defensive struggles felt like a weight holding down the franchise.

It didn’t make sense on paper and I had expected the team to come out at a high level on both sides of the football. Stephon Gilmore was the only new defensive starter in a unit that all of a sudden forgot how to communicate. The offensive line fielded the same five starters as in 2016, but they all of a sudden forgot how to block. It was the little things that snowballed into the big things and the Patriots looked vulnerable.

All of these problems seem to be in the past now and seem laughable in retrospect. The defense has allowed the fewest points in the NFL since week 5 and the offense is still one of the best in the league. Only the Philadelphia Eagles can boast a similar balance on both sides of the football and the two teams seem destined for a Super Bowl rematch.

This happens every year and it shouldn’t be a surprise anymore. It happened in 2014 with Darrelle Revis joining the secondary, and in 2015 when Logan Ryan was expected to be a starter, and then again to Ryan in 2016. But the defense always figured itself out by the second half of the season and, injuries willing, became championship caliber.

New England is once again the team to beat in the AFC and most of the early season concerns have been fixed. This is the Patriots story, every year, like clockwork.

What has surprised you about the 2017 Patriots?