Graham: Is the end near for the Patriots?

Inside The Buffalo Huddle

The Patriots run of dominance has been well-chronicled over the years.

But, is the end near?

The Athletic’s Tim Graham takes a look.

By: Tim Graham, The Athletic

Bills fans have come to accept as fact that the only three species that will survive nuclear Armageddon are cockroaches, scorpions and New England Patriots.

The Patriots have been an un-killable life form for nearly two decades.

They’ve won five Super Bowls.

But, maybe even more remarkable is that not once since Tom Brady became the starting quarterback in 2000 — not once — have the Patriots had the second-best record in the AFC East.

The only time they haven’t won the division was on a tiebreaker.

That’s dominance.

That’s invincibility.

But dynasties do topple, and while Tom Brady and Bill Belichick seemed immune to collapse, we finally might be witnessing the Patriots demise.

They’re projected not to have a first-round bye in the playoffs, and while they’re usually gearing up toward the end of the regular season, they’re on a two-game losing streak and have lost three of their past five entering today’s game against the Bills.

The Patriots leader in receiving yards, Josh Gordon, was suspended indefinitely Friday for violating the NFL’s drug program again.

Their best weapon, tight end Rob Gronkowski, isn’t healthy. Gronk nearly retired last year and needed to be persuaded to return for another season. He’s had his flashes, but he isn’t capable of carrying the offense anymore.

New England’s defense ranks in the bottom third of the NFL in yards per play and first downs allowed.

They’re an uninspiring 13th in points allowed.

The Patriots are good still. They’re 9-5 and in first place. They’ll probably win the AFC East again.

The Bills are building still. Josh Allen is young and makes rookie mistakes and the offense is shorthanded. They’re 3-29 all-time against Brady and 1-14 against him in Foxboro.

But if the Bills can win today? It would be the Patriots’ first three-game losing streak since 2002 and further signal that the Patriots aren’t immortal, that there might be more than one team in the AFC East again.

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