Brady is great, as usual, but can the Patriots survive their defense?

Much of the chatter about the New England Patriots in the offseason was whether Tom Brady would show any signs of slowing down at age 40.

As it turns out, Brady is as good as ever.

As the Patriots started out 2-1, he passed for 1,092 yards, the seventh-best figure for the first three games of any NFL season.

He’s already first (2011 with 1,327 yards) and fifth (2015 with 1,112 yards) in that category. And he led a game-winning drive in the fourth quarter of their 36-33 victory over the Houston Texans last Sunday.

But what is surprising is that the Patriots’ defense has fallen off a cliff.

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Colts suddenly looking hapless and hopeless again

It looks like the bad old days are back for the Indianapolis Colts.

After the Colts made their midnight move from Baltimore in 1984, they didn’t win 10 games until Peyton Manning’s second season in 1999.

They then posted seasons with double-digit victories 11 times and went to two Super Bowls, winning one.

When Manning was injured in 2011, the Colts went 2-14 — but that was a good year to get the first pick in the draft. It gave them a chance to start over with Andrew Luck.

Owner Jimmy Irsay released Manning, when went on to appear in two Super Bowls with the Broncos, winning one – and fired general manager Bill Polian and coach Jim Caldwell. He replaced them with Ryan Grigson and Chuck Pagano.

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Arrogant Patriots got a well-deserved comeuppance

The Patriots didn’t do any deflating Thursday night.

Instead, they inflated five Super Bowl trophy replicas that looked like they belonged in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade and rolled them onto the field before their season opener against the Kansas City Chiefs.

They put on the scoreboard: “Atlanta 28 NE 3 2:12 3rdQtr

That was a reminder of their Super Bowl comeback, and the announcer talked about the greatest comeback of all time.

They unveiled their fifth Super Bowl banner.

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NFL deserves credit for checking Brady concussion allegations

When Gisele Bundchen speaks, the NFL listens.

The supermodel who is Tom Brady’s wife said on CBS This Morning last May that Brady has had concussions pretty much every year and suffered one last year.

“We don’t talk about it, but he does have concussions,’’ she said.

When Brady was finally asked about his wife’s comments, he said it was not anybody’s business, which is not exactly a strong denial.

The New England Patriots had never put Brady on the injury report with a concussion, but then the Patriots aren’t noted for being candid in their injury reports.

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Five Things to Watch: NFL Week 1

Five things I’ll be looking at in the first week of the 2017 NFL season:

1. How will Tom Brady play in the Patriots Thursday night opener against the Chiefs?

At age 40, Brady has shown no signings of slowing down in training camp. And if Brady is still Brady, they are three games – two home playoff games and the Super Bowl – away from a sixth Super Bowl title before they inflate their first football.

With Brady, they are a lock to make the playoffs again since they play in a division with the Jets, Bills and Dolphins. But sometimes aging quarterbacks can just suddenly fall off a cliff. Or decline slowly.

Brady will be under the microscope for any signs of slowing down all season. Oh, and the other thing about the opener is the reception the Patriots fans will give Roger Goodell. How many will wear the clown T-shirt that defensive coordinator Matt Patricia wore getting off the plane after the Super Bowl? What will their signs say?

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Bowlen wouldn’t even be sniffing the HOF if he hadn’t inherited Elway

When the contributors’ committee met last week to select a candidate to be voted on at the annual Pro Football Hall of Fame selection meeting next February, they were looking at a strong field.

It included Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen, former general managers Bobby Beathard and George Young and scouting pioneer Gil Brandt of the Dallas Cowboys.

They could have easily just picked a name out of a hat.

Since there aren’t a lot of other slam-dunk contributor candidates at the moment, all four figure to be selected in the next three years.

There will be two nominated in 2019, then one a year after that.

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Bortles’ garbage-time stats are another damning indictment

“Blake Bortles is the Tom Brady of Garbage Time,’’ blared the headline on the fivethirtyeight.com website.

The site is noted for crunching the numbers on political issues, but also covers sports. And Michael Salvino studied the numbers on Blake Bortles, the fourth-year Jaguars quarterback, for the past two seasons.

It turns out he was the best quarterback in the league in garbage time the past two years. Garbage time is defined on being down by nine or more points with four minutes or fewer left.

There has been a perception that Bortles tends to put up meaningless numbers in garbage time and Salvino’s research shows it is true.

Bortles completed 78 of 118 passes for 964 yards and 12 touchdowns and just four picks with a passer rating of 111 in garbage time. Tom Brady, who barely even knows what garbage time in a loss feels like, had a 112 passer rating for the season last year.

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