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New England came dreadfully close to an opening season loss this Sunday to their doormat division rivals, the Bills.

With few exceptions, the Patriots usually walk all over Buffalo and tack up an easy W on the record.

They snuck by on a sloppy 23-21 victory chock full of fumbles, missed connections, and mediocre defensive play. Yes, a win is a win, but it previewed the struggles this team is going to face all season.

Now one could argue pigskin mastermind Tom Brady has a lack of weapons compared to years past, but that excuse is getting old. Even with Rob Gronkowski coming back eventually, this won't be enough to coast through games like they used to. The NFL is a revolving door with players constantly coming and going whether it be injuries, trades, or prison.

To be fair, Buffalo had two important weapons sitting on the bench with injuries in 2012 first-round cornerback Stephon Gilmore and Pro-Bowl safety Jairus Byrd. These two could've easily been game-changers. The point is, the Patriots glory days are wearing thin, and they demonstrated this on Sunday.

If you are still skeptical, just take a look at a chunk of their opponents this year: the Falcons, Broncos, Saints, Texans, and Ravens. Those are the real heavy hitters, with other stiff competition sprinkled in. Let alone the young and hungry AFC East that is just salivating over the chance to knock off the kings of seasons gone by.

With the injury bug biting both Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen to some extent this weekend, the Pats should really be getting nervous. At least Brady found a new friend in Danny Amendola, but will he be enough? Rookie Kenbrell Thompkins is another asset that has potential, but didn't flash it this weekend.

All I'm saying is watch out Bill Belichick, the rising youth in the AFC might shove you and your aging stud quarterback right out of the playoff door soon enough.