Still, Pats fans need not abandon hope of promised joy.
After all, at 3-3, New England has the third-best record in the AFC. Granted, they're tied with nearly half the conference for that distinction, but of all the seasons for the Flying Elvii to stutter out of the gate, this one would rank near the top.
There aren't any truly elite teams in the conference this year—the Houston Texans just got mopped by the NFC North's third-place Packers, and the Baltimore Ravens lost Lardarius Webb and Ray Lewis for the year.
The Pats aren't perfect—they might be better served employing scarecrows in their secondary, in hopes of spooking receivers into occasional incompletions—but they are still a Super Bowl contender.
That is, if they can improve on some of the late-game trends that have resulted in blown fourth-quarter leads and excruciating losses.
Here are six early returns–both positive and negative—on the Pats' first six weeks of play.