There's more than one way to look at the 5-3 New England Patriots:
(A) They're much better than their record, having lost all three games by a total of four points.
(B) They can't close games.
(C) They're right where they should be.
Tom Brady is going with (C).
"We're at where we really deserve to be," the team's quarterback told WEEI-FM on Tuesday. "I don't think we've played any better than our record. We don't deserve to be anything better than we are."
It has been an unusual season for the Patriots.
They lost tight end Aaron Hernandez early, pulling a talented playmaker out of the mix. They used the first five weeks of the season to experiment with five separate offensive schemes. The Patriots show signs of exploding down the stretch, but they simultaneously house a troubled secondary that has kept opponents alive.
"Look, every team can go, 'Wow, without these plays we could be undefeated.' Every team can say that," Brady said. "But we're not, and there's a reason why. It's not like we've played great football over these last eight weeks."
"There is a lot of improvement we need to make. There is a lot of things we can do better. ... We have to get everybody moving forward and make a big push here in the second half because this is where the best teams really start to show themselves."
Follow Marc Sessler on Twitter @MarcSesslerNFL.