By Tony Massarotti

Dear Patriots Haters,

Please forgive me for putting this so succinctly, but, well, you’re screwed. And truth be told, you’re screwed even more than I thought you were. Which is saying something.

At this time next week, Tom Brady will be back. Worst case, the Patriots will be 3-1. New England has defeated Arizona on the road and Houston at home, and both of those clubs were in the playoffs a year ago. Any chance of burying the Patriots in the first four weeks is now all but gone, and You Know Who will be coming back in Week 5, at Cleveland, home of the world’s most inept franchise.

Hilarious, right? The Browns can’t do anything right when it comes to finding a quarterback, from drafting Johnny Manziel to trading for Robert Griffin III to dealing away the pick that produced Carson Wentz (3-0). Meanwhile, Bill Belichick will show up at his old haunt in Week 5 with four Super Bowl rings to go along with quarterbacks Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett, the last two of whom have more wins this season than the Browns do.

So fine, Brady has almost served the entirety of his four-game suspension, and you got your proverbial pound of flesh. But you didn’t get a drop of blood. In fact, you’ve bled a little yourself. Aside from Brady, the Patriots have played the early part of this season without any real contribution from tight end Rob Gronkowski, running back Dion Lewis, tackle Sebastian Vollmer or defensive end Rob Ninkovich. Even left tackle Nate Solder missed a game. And yet the Pats are still right there, one of only five teams in the league still without a loss.

If you thought you might get rid of the Patriots this year, think again. But that is just part of the story.

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The Patriots aren’t just here for the short-term, they’re here for the long-term. Garoppolo, before being squashed by Miami Dolphins linebacker Kiko Alonso in Week 2, was the second highest-rated passer in the entire NFL. He’s now tied for first. Anyone who saw Garoppolo’s performance against the Dolphins in Week 2 knows the New England offense looked every bit as proficient as it does under Brady, which should send shudders down the spines of every non-Patriots fan from Bangor to Baja.

Garoppolo can play, folks. When he went down, he was No. 1 in the NFL against the blitz, No. 2 on third down, No. 2 out of the shotgun. If Garoppolo is 80 percent of what Brady has been, the Patriots could be a force in the NFL for years to come, which means you and Roger Goodell had better start crafting and plotting your next evil plan.

So what’s it going to be this time — that the Patriots are putting too much air into the footballs? That their spikes are too long? Their helmets too hard? Belichick is a step ahead, folks. Remember: the cheaters are always ahead of the enforcers.

Still, in the end, here’s the biggest reason you’re screwed: you’re dumb. Last week proved it. Houston Texans coach Bill O’Brien is a Belichick disciple, for heaven’s sake, and he walked into Foxboro last week with his tail between his legs. O’Brien signed quarterback Brock Osweiler to a deal averaging $18 million during the offseason, then handed it off on third-and-long. His approach was way too passive. Meanwhile, the Texans gave up 27 points to an offense that might as well have been coordinated by a Division 3 college coach. Brissett is an infant in NFL terms, after all, and the Texans still couldn’t keep him out of the end zone.

That was after the Dolphins got shredded by Garoppolo. And that was after Bruce Arians (and his stupid hat) threw up on themselves on national television.

This week, in the final installment of Life Without Brady, Rex Ryan and the Buffalo Bills travel to Foxboro. Rex is always good for some laughs. The Bills are feeling their oats after a feisty win over the Cardinals, but do not be fooled. Buffalo is undisciplined. Buffalo is careless. And Buffalo is sloppy. And no matter who is quarterback, no matter the outcome, certain things will be indisputable when the Patriots show up in Cleveland for Week 5.

Bill Belichick will still be on the sideline. Tom Brady will be behind center. And Jimmy Garoppolo will be in the pipeline. The Patriots are living in every crevice yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Say it with me, folks:




Tony Massarotti is an avid Boston sports fan and has covered sports in Boston for more than 15 years for both the Boston Herald and Boston Globe. He now serves as a co-host on afternoon drive on 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston. He was a two-time Massachusetts Sportswriter of the Year as voted by his peers and has written four books, including “Big Papi,” the New York Times-bestselling memoirs of David Ortiz. You can follow Tony @tonymassarotti.

Tony Massarotti