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End Around: What will it take to stop the Patriots?

Houston, you have a problem.

You can't beat the Patriots. You're not close to beating the Patriots. It's possible you won't ever beat the Patriots. I'm sorry.

Here's the "good" news: The Texans are far from alone. In fact, let's take this opportunity to list other NFL teams who likely will face similar peril if they play the New England Patriots in a game that matters this season:

Think that's it. Did we miss anybody? [Cleveland Browns raise their hand.] Yeah, you guys, too.

The Pats are 3-0 without Tom Brady. They just buried a supposed AFC power behind their third-string quarterback. Everyone following the sport is asking the same question on Friday morning: If the Patriots are this good withoutTom Brady, what happens when the best quarterback of all-time returns in Week 5?

It's a frightening thought. And you just know Brady will be seriously cheesed off once he finally returns. Remember that stretch of gamespost-Spygate when the Pats were just obliterating their opponents without mercy? It feels like we're headed down a similar path. It's not crazy talk to wonder if another 16-0 season is within grasp.

If you listen to the Around The NFL Podcast, and you're a Patriots fan, I can guess what you're thinking ...

Dan, this is obviously a pathetic reverse-jinx attempt by a Jets fan who, once again, sees the writing on the wall. Why don't you peddle this crap elsewhere. You are a sad, garbage person.

First off, jeez. Words hurt. Second, I'll acknowledge 23 percent of the reason this piece exists is as a sort of desperate cosmic Hail Mary to the football gods. I mean, can you blame me? If a team can look as feckless as the Texans on Thursday night, you have to re-evaluate some things. Better to start formulating a Plan B now before it's too late.

So how can the Patriots be stopped in 2016? There's no one easy solution, so let's spitball a bit and throw out a collection of options.

Here we go ...

» Frame Bill Belichick for a white-collar crime that results in a modest sentence to a minimum-security prison in Maine.

» Convince Tom Brady to join the space program.

» Tell Julian Edelman that Tom Brady joined the space program.

» Wish Julian Edelman the best of luck in the space program.

» Persuade Garoppolo that his true calling is to follow the other Jimmys into the world of late night.

» Organize a faux Gronk cruise, use holograms and Flo Rida to sell the ruse, then drop anchor in the Gulf of Mexico. (Gronk and his brothers will be cool with this.)

» Throw one of those giant exterminator tarps over Gillette Stadium, then covertly build a replacement home facility on a sacred burial ground.

» Hypnotize Josh McDaniels, program him to believe his destiny is to reunite with Tim Tebow, then help him secure the job as manager of the Kingsport Mets in the Appalachian League.

» Stage an elaborate prank-call scheme that ends with the Pats surrendering Stephen Gostkowski and a pair of firsts in exchange for Blair Walsh.

» Reunite LeGarrette Blount and Le'Veon Bell, send them on a bye-week road trip to collect a mystery briefcase.

» Empower front office to hire Mark Wahlberg as Belichick's replacement.

» Get Mark Wahlberg drunk, convince him to substitute team film study sessions with repeated "Ted 2" screenings.

» Secure representation rights for Jacoby Brissett. Implore him to go Full Bosa until outrageous contract demands are met.

» Replace all recovery/energy drink dispensaries with supplies from Drew Bledsoe's vast wine cellar.

» Pull necessary strings, land Martellus Bennett a lucrative drive-time show on WEEI under one non-negotiable condition: Say whatever you want at all times.

» Replace practice hype music with demo recordings and B-sides from Elliott Smith.

» Citing rising jet fuel costs, convince front office to funnel all team travel through a generously used Chinatown bus.

» Build time machine, collect Joe Namath, Jim Kelly and Dan Marino, and return them to their age-25 forms. Have the three miracles of science sign with the Jets, Bills and Dolphins (respectively, of course) for the league minimum.

Do all this, and the Pats are going down. All the way down to 8-8. OK, 9-7. Fine, 10-6. Worst-case scenario, 11-5. Or, yeah, 12-4.


Follow Dan Hanzus on Twitter @danhanzus and check out his stuff on the End Around.

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