Charles Krupa/AP/Shutterstock
By Conor Orr
October 05, 2018

As is often the case with early-season Patriots games, we are left with a few more questions than we have answers to.

Is this their, we’re re-emerging as a superpower game? The temptation to label it as such is there. They scored almost 40 points. Tom Brady looked fluid with Julian Edelman back in the lineup. Josh Gordon barreled his way through the Colts’ perforated secondary to catch Brady’s 500th career touchdown. Phillip Dorsett snapped off some professional-grade routes and Sony Michel is looking increasingly vicious with each carry. He and James White could finish the season as the NFL’s most devastating tandem.

The team is no longer desperately searching for the remains of Chris Hogan in order to spark some offense.

Had it not been for a quiet, last-second Eric Ebron touchdown scored in front of a smattering of Patriots fans bored enough to boo a meaningless replay overturn, this could have been classified as a blowout. As it was, 38–24 looked pretty good on the scoreboard.

Brady has weapons again. Winning solves deep-seated emotional problems caused by years of neglectful dad-style coaching. As Troy Aikman said about 900 times on the broadcast: The Patriots continue to be the safest bet in football.

But is it possible we were simply watching them trounce a Colts team that has suffered terrible misfortunes? Should we—gasp—wait for a larger sample size to make any decisions about New England?

Indianapolis followed an overtime loss on Sunday with a quick road game turnaround on Thursday Night Football—a venue in which the home team obviously has a slight advantage. The Colts finished the game without almost all of their defensive starters and began the game without their left tackle, best running back, best wide receiver, best tight end and so on. Even Adam Vinatieri was hurt and banged his first attempt of the night off the goal post.

Still, there was Andrew Luck chucking darts with three timeouts, down 14 in the fourth quarter with 7:18 to play. Receiver Zach Pascal then followed a nice grab with a subsequent, ill-timed flip to Patriots corner Jonathan Jones for the pick. This represents the fine point of separation between two different lines of questioning. Had they simply edged the limping Colts, would it have changed the way we’ll view next Sunday’s showstopper—a prime-time game against the Kansas City Chiefs in Foxborough?

We’ll play that one up because it’s another adrenaline shot this early in the season. The league is drowning in good games. Good prime-time matchups and soaring offensive numbers. They’ll treat the lead-up of Brady v. Mahomes like Ali-Frazier II.

After Thursday night, it remains to be seen whether the Patriots are in that kind of fighting shape just yet.

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THE KICKER

Rest in peace, legendary NFL scribe and Pulitzer Prize winner Dave Anderson

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