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Questions keep stacking up against the Patriots, and answers aren’t easy to find

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Predicting the demise of the New England Patriots is a long-running parlor game that leaves no winners, only regret and fools. The onset of doom, for them, ends with trophies and parades, with Bill Belichick cracking his annual half-smile and Tom Brady somehow looking younger. Declaring the end of the Patriots is both pointless venture and folly.

But we also don’t know what the end will look like, so we might not be able to identify it even when it happens in front of our eyes. What if the end looks like an impotent offense surrendering amid the strange sound of Gillette Stadium boos at halftime?