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Tom Brady, left, celebrates with Julian Edelman during the Patriots’ 30-14 win over the New York Jets on Sunday. Elise Amendola/Associated Press

In Week 1, the New England Patriots steamrolled the Pittsburgh Steelers, 33-3. In Week 2, they shut out the hapless Miami Dolphins, 43-0. On Sunday, they defeated the New York Jets, 30-14.

Their start to 2019 has been so strong, even against opponents with a combined record of 0-9, that some are already comparing this team to the 2007 version, the second team in NFL history to go undefeated during the regular season.

If the 2007 team is the gold standard for the franchise, then this year’s iteration appears on track to be platinum.

Twelve years ago the Patriots outscored opponents 114-35 during the first three weeks of the season, a point differential 10 points fewer than we’ve seen in 2019. And while the 2007 Patriots dazzled opponents with offense, this year’s club is frustrating them with defense, too.

Opponents have punted on 22 of their 37 drives against the Patriots; five others ended with turnovers on downs; four ended on interceptions (two of which were returned for touchdowns); and just one resulted in points from the offense, a 19-yard field goal by Pittsburgh’s Chris Boswell in the season opener.

New England’s offense scored 63 more points than expected through the first three games of 2007 after taking into account the down, distance and field position of each play, per data from TruMedia. Those Patriots saved just 19 points on defense.

This year, New England scored 19 more points than expected on offense, with 81 points saved on defense, a complete inverse of how 2007′s squad began its undefeated campaign.

The quest for perfection picks up in Week 4 against a divisional rival, the 3-0 Buffalo Bills, on the road. New England opened as a 6-point favorite, with the spread reaching 7 1/2 points before coming down to 7 as of Thursday morning. Since 2002, the first year the league expanded to 32 teams, road favorites of seven points or more have a 226-71 record straight up (76% win rate), giving the Patriots decent odds to improve to 4-0 on Sunday.

So if they beat Buffalo, what are their chances of making it to 16-0?

The weekly preseason point spreads released by CG Technology in May give us a starting point. Back then, the Patriots were expected to be favored in every game save one, their Week 11 matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Since those projected point spreads are a bit dated, this projection will also take into account their opponents’ actual records and what those records should be, based on points scored and allowed — also known as its Pythagorean win percentage — and regress their win-loss records to account for the small number of games played.

If the Patriots get past the Bills, their next three games are at the Washington Redskins, at home versus the New York Giants on a Thursday night and on the road against the Jets, teams with a combined record of 1-8. Then they host the talented but struggling Cleveland Browns (1-2). It’s safe to assume the Patriots will be heavily favored in each game, and if they were to win them all, they’d enter November at 8-0 (a 26% chance).

That’s when their schedule gets tricky, with a five-game stretch against teams that made the playoffs last year. The Patriots play at the Baltimore Ravens (2-1) on Sunday night; after a bye week comes the road game against the Eagles (1-2). Next up: A home game against the Dallas Cowboys (3-0), a road game at the Houston Texans (2-1) and a home matchup with last season’s AFC title game opponent, the Kansas City Chiefs. The chances that New England remains undefeated at that point are projected at just 3%.

The Patriots finish with a stretch of three seemingly manageable games (depending upon whether the Bills are for real): at Cincinnati, home versus Buffalo and home versus Miami. Put it all together and, as of this writing, the Patriots have just a 2% chance to make it to 16-0.

Aside from the tough late-season schedule and the inherent challenges of a perfect season, injuries might be the team’s biggest stumbling block.

The offensive line has already had to deal with the loss of center David Andrews (blood clots), right tackle Marcus Cannon (shoulder) and left tackle Isaiah Wynn (foot).

Right guard Caleb Benenoch was signed to fill the void but he was the lowest-rated guard of 2018, per Pro Football Focus, after being deemed responsible for 42 total sacks, hits and hurries as a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Marshall Newhouse is now the Patriots’ starting left tackle. He is known more for a spectacular fumble on Monday Night Football two years ago than he is for protecting quarterbacks.

Tom Brady can manage himself in the pocket but, like most passers, the less the 42-year-old faces pressure, the better it will be for New England.

Brady’s passer rating declined from 105.3 in a clean pocket to 71.2 when facing pass pressure last year. His completion rate also suffered, going from 72% to 45% under those same circumstances. This year has a similar story: a decline in passer rating from 127.4 to 80.4 and in completion percentage from 78% to 36% when the pocket goes from clean to pressured.

Another injury concern is wide receiver Julian Edelman, one of Brady’s favorite targets. Edelman left Sunday’s game in the closing seconds of the first half with a chest injury and his timetable remains unclear.

“He’s one of the best players who has ever played for this organization,” Brady said on Westwood One Radio. “I love being out there with him and if he’s not out there the offense takes a huge hit. Hopefully he can be out there as soon as he’s healthy and ready to go.”

Other players with nagging injuries include defensive end Michael Bennett (shoulder), linebacker Dont’a Hightower (shoulder), safety Nate Ebner (groin), running back Rex Burkhead (foot), left guard Joe Thuney (shoulder) and tight ends Ryan Izzo (calf) and Matt LaCosse (ankle). Not even Brady is immune to the physical rigors of the sport. He has been limited in practice due to a calf issue, although he doesn’t expect to miss any time.

“I wouldn’t say I’m a spring chicken anymore,” Brady said. “I’m trying to just feel as great as I can and we’ll see how it goes tomorrow. But I feel pretty good.”

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