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Where do Patriots go from here? To the trade deadline — but as sellers instead of buyers

For years now, New England Patriot fans joked that the season didn’t start until the AFC Championship game. It was a taunt built out of hubris but also truth — they appeared in 13 of them during the Tom Brady-Bill Belichick era, including eight consecutive at one point.

Division titles were expected and hardly celebrated. The team culture famously called for a hat to be handed out. Playoff appearances, and at least one home victory, was a birthright.

So what do you do if suddenly you’re 2-4 and have lost three consecutive games and looked increasingly terrible in each one?