Season’s finishing stretch should tell a lot about Brady and Patriots

The table is set for the New England Patriots.

This is their time of year. They are 105-29 after Thanksgiving since 2001.

And if they win out and Kansas City loses one more game, the Patriots will have their usual No. 1 seed in the AFC, and the road to the Super Bowl will once again go through Foxborough, Mass.

And the schedule is favorable with four games against division opponents, including games against the hapless New York Jets on Sunday and in the final game of the season.

The other two challenges are a home game against Minnesota and a trip to Pittsburgh, a team they usually dominate.

Despite how everything is breaking for the Patriots, they have to overcome one thing — doubts.

The Patriots are 7-3 but have looked more like old Patriots rather than the Patriots of old lately.

The Patriots were blown out by the Tennessee Titans, 34-10, in their last game before the bye.

Tom Brady has been looking like a 41-year-old quarterback, throwing just one touchdown pass in the last three games.

There are questions whether Brady is finally showing the effects of age. Despite the entire “TB12” regimen, he can’t go one forever. Is he starting to show his age?

On the other hand, the problem could be they have been hit by too many injuries to his supporting cast and they are not protecting him well.

If the bye week gave the injured players – notably Rob Gronkowski, Sony Michel and Shaq Mason — time to heal, the Patriots could again become the Patriots.

The defense also has to step up. They are 19th in point allowed, 20th in the red zone and 25th on third down.

Even if they continue to struggle, they will likely open the playoffs at home in the wild-card game as the AFC East champions.

But if they win their playoff opener, they would then they have to go on the road. The road to the Super Bowl might go through Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City.

The Patriots are also fighting history. No team has lost the Super Bowl and won it the next year since the 1972 perfect Miami Dolphins did it after losing to the Dallas Cowboys the year before.

Is this the beginning of the end for the Patriots? Or will they once again prove the doubters wrong and keep their dynasty alive and well?

The next few weeks should provide the answer.

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