Through 12 weeks of the NFL season, one thing is clear. The Patriots are who we (or most of us, anyways) thought they were. Vegas had them pegged as an 8.5-win team entering the season. Most fans seemed to be anywhere in the 8-10-win range, with some straying above or below those projections.

The team is 6-5 and if you were picking favorites the rest of the way, you'd be well within reason to say the Patriots could be viewed as the betting favorite in two or three of the remaining contests. What does that all add up to? Either side of Vegas' 8.5-win total. Funny how they always seem to know what they're doing.

This all, of course, after a 2021 season in which the Pats went 10-7, grabbed a Wild Card spot, but proved time and time again they could not compete with the top competition. Once again, the same appears to be the case this season.

Just look at the schedule. New England's best wins this season have come against the Jets. Yes, they're a playoff team currently. They're also a team we in this region don't take too seriously considering the Pats have won the last 14 meetings with N.Y.

Losses to Miami, Baltimore and Minnesota have shown that, should the Pats steal a game or two down the stretch and make the playoffs, chances are they'll just be an early round sacrificial lamb yet again.

So, what's the biggest thing keeping the Patriots from being on par with the best teams in the league?

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