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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Looks like union will remain a paper tiger against NFL owners

The NFL owners apparently can’t wait to get DeMaurice Smith back to the negotiating table.

After the players’ selection committee voted to extend Smith’s contract as the NFLPA head, league spokesman Joe Lockhart congratulated Smith (pictured) in a conference call and then talked about the 2011 negotiations.

“I think we had productive negotiations with him in 2011,’’ Lockhart said. “We believe strongly that it has worked for both parties, for owners and players.’’

Can you imagine a Major League Baseball spokesman ever making a comment like that about a deal that Marvin Miller negotiated for the baseball players?

The deal has worked out great for the football owners. The players? Not so much.

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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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Pursuit of Elliott is more nonsensical buffoonery from Goodell

Remember New Coke?

In one of the most bizarre marketing decisions in American history, Coca-Cola changed its century-old formula in 1985 to a more sugary taste, only to face a deluge of complaints from outraged customers.

Just 79 days later, the company brought back old Coke as Coke Classic.

All you could think of at the time was, what were they thinking?

Their explanation is that they were worried about losing market share to Pepsi. But nobody in the boardroom raised a red flag that changing the formula wasn’t the answer.

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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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