Colin Cowherd sees the New England Patriots’ 2019 season unfolding like it so often has in the past.

It typically takes a few weeks for the Patriots to find a groove, which routinely prompts dramatic takes and over-exaggerated proclamations from both fans and media members alike. But like clockwork, New England will hit its stride in late-October/early-November en route to another deep playoff run.

Cowherd isn’t naive enough to be consumed by the Patriots’ current question marks, and he seems to believe they’ll be in the mix for the Lombardi Trophy come January. But given New England’s propensity to struggle early, “The Herd” host has Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and Co. pegged at No. 5 in his power rankings heading into Week 1.

“New England Patriots, I think by the end of the year they could be the best team. I don’t think they’ll be the best team early,” Cowherd said Tuesday on FOX Sports 1. “They lost David Andrews, the center. I’m sorry, that’s a big deal for New England. He calls the audibles. I think their wide receiver group could be good, but it’s really choppy. Josh Gordon just arrived, (Julian) Edelman was out for most of camp, Demaryius Thomas was out then cut — he’s back. N’Keal Harry, who I think could be a really good wide receiver, he’s on the IR. Gronk (Rob Gronkowski) retired, Chris Hogan’s gone. They’re a running power team now more than I ever remember, but I don’t think their O-line and their receiving group will be settled. They open with Pittsburgh, that’s no day at the beach. So if they have a choppy September, don’t be shocked.”

Center probably should be viewed as New England’s greatest area of concern heading into opening weekend. You can say what you want about the Patriots’ collection of pass-catchers, but Brady has a pretty good track record of making the most of what he has. And as Cowherd touched on, New England has the personnel to suffocate you with its stable of running backs.

Andrews, meanwhile, has been a stalwart on the Patriots’ offensive line and his chemistry with Brady is off the charts. It will be impossible to replace all he brings to the table, but Ted Karras is more than familiar with New England’s system and Belichick already has touted the experience of newcomer Russell Bodine. So while the transition might not be entirely seamless, it might not be as difficult as it’s made out to be.

We’ll receive some idea Sunday night of how much work needs to be done for the Patriots when they open their regular-season slate against the Steelers at Gillette Stadium.

Thumbnail photo via Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports Images