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The 2018 season is shaping up for the Patriots

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There were plenty of question marks coming into the season, but in early November, the Patriots are exactly where they always are.

Green Bay Packers v New England Patriots Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Back in August, the Patriots were trudging through training camp and we were concerning ourselves about the depth of this team, especially on the offensive side of the football.

At that point, with Julian Edelman set to serve a four-game suspension, and Eric Decker dropping out at the last minute, as well as a handful of other receivers that had come briefly and gone quickly, it was hard to tell exactly where the Pats would be when we reached the first week of November.

It was difficult to know if the Patriots would be at their normal 7-2 after the season’s halfway point, or if their initial lack of depth would cause them to be at a disappointing (for New England standards) 5-4 or something like that.

But after the Patriots took care of business in Week 9, defeating the Green Bay Packers 31-17 at Gillette Stadium, to move to 7-2 on the year — a typical spot for them to be during this part of the season — it’s hard to imagine that depth was ever actually an issue for this team.

Two months ago, I was worried that, even with the great Tom Brady at the helm, this offense would struggle to move the ball with such a depleted core of receivers, and with a rookie running back in Sony Michel getting most of the carries. But after New England’s win against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, it’s evident that this team is still more than capable of getting it done.

After all, they beat Green Bay by two touchdowns without both Michel and superstar tight end Rob Gronkowski. Even without the team’s most clutch pass catcher, and even without the kid who has taken this team’s running game to a new level, Brady is still finding ways to get this offense moving.

Almost as if on cue, Cordarrelle Patterson has suddenly become an integral part of this unit. He came to New England in the offseason, and it wasn’t expected that he would be used for much more than a kick returner and an occasional target for Brady. Instead, he’s become one of Brady’s most reliable targets, and is even now being used as a running back in the absence of Michel. And Patterson isn’t just playing the role of a running back; he’s doing it effectively as well.

And of course, you can leave it only to Bill Belichick to bring in a train wreck like Josh Gordon and suddenly revive his career. As long as Gordon stays healthy — and most importantly, stays out of trouble — he might a big part of this Patriots offense for a few years to come.

Nonetheless, however, it’s incredible to see that the Patriots are exactly where they usually are at this time even with all of the questions marks coming into the season. The 2018 season is taking shape the same way every Patriots season does. And it’s all happening with a 41-year-old quarterback, which might be the most amazing part of it all.

I’m convinced that as long as Bill Belichick and Tom Brady are around, the Patriots will never even come close to losing the AFC East. Even if they stick around for another 15 years, and Belichick is in his 80s and Brady is in his late 50s, would that even matter?

Alright, I’ll try not to get ridiculous. Obviously, they wouldn’t both still be able to do this at that age.

Or would they?