Tom Brady likes to say that the real season does not start until Thanksgiving, but with eight games in the books this year, we already have a fairly solid picture of what the New England Patriots will look like going forward. Surely, the Pats will adhere to the cliche of "improving each day," but there will be no more great surprises.
With that in mind, we can look back at the first half of the season as a foundation for expectations moving forward. New England has unfortunately suffered a rash of season-ending injuries, so there is no need to account for the return of vital cogs like Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo, while important reinforcements like Aqib Talib and Shane Vereen should return shortly. Another traumatic injury may very well occur, but this middle-class-heavy roster will be the Pats' main personnel group going forward.
The Patriots have been a team of extremes this season, a trend that figures to even out as the offense gels and the defense languishes from a personnel shortage. However, those extremes also make the Pats ripe for a list such as this one, which will highlight the most significant factors that have shaped their season thus far.
It's tough for a single list to cover every notable feat, so while we're here, props to Chandler Jones, Nate Solder and Stephen Gostkowski; demerits to the injury bug, LeGarrette Blount and Leon Washington.
With that, here are eight of the most noteworthy superlatives from the Patriots first eight games along with what we can learn from each of them going forward.
*All stats courtesy Pro-Football-Reference.com or Pro Football Focus' premium section (subscription required).