Tom Brady is not in the conversation for MVP. It’s Week 10, and Russell Wilson, Lamar Jackson and Deshaun Watson are the quarterbacks currently in that discussion.

Brady wasn’t in the mix last year, either. At this same point in the season, the Patriots’ offense wasn’t doing much of anything that made it special.

But when push came to shove in the big games, especially during the postseason, the offense delivered. Brady was still able to don the cape, and make the necessary plays in the clutch. There’s no better example than the AFC Championship game against the Kansas City Chiefs. Brady was able to trade blows with Patrick Mahomes in a memorable second half and overtime and come out on top.

A little past the midway point this season, do you have the same feeling about Brady? Especially with a diminished offensive line, a struggling running game and no Rob Gronkowski?

Can the six-time Super Bowl champ still put the team on his back and pull out a win?

ESPN analyst Damien Woody wasn’t so sure. Given the issues with the offensive line, and lack of weapons, coupled with his age, he thought Brady’s cape-wearing days might be over. Two other commentators we consulted, however, NFL on CBS analyst Rich Gannon, as well as NFL Network analyst Brian Billick, believe the 42-year-old Patriots quarterback still has the capacity and the tools to perform the heroic acts necessary with his offense if the situation calls for it.

Woody, the former Patriots offensive lineman, did make note of the challenges Brady has faced this season breaking in new receivers, watching them leave, having injuries hamper his offensive line, while the run game hasn’t been the force it was during the championship run last season. Ultimately, he didn’t see Brady being able to overcome all the issues, even though he’s done so plenty of times in the past.

“We’ve been so accustomed to seeing Tom making things happen with less,” Woody said. “At some point, it’s going to catch up to you. I just think at this point in his career, he’s not able to put the team on his back when things aren’t going well.”

Gannon, who indicated he had watched just about every Patriots game, live or otherwise, wasn’t ready to throw in the towel on the offense, or Brady. Instead, he thinks it’s remarkable what Brady has been able to do.

“I don’t know that they’ve established an offensive identity because of some of the challenges they’ve had from a personnel standpoint. Losing a center was significant. Losing left tackle was significant. That’s affected their ability to run the ball the way they want to,” Gannon said. “They’ve never been able to get that going. So the play-action hasn’t been nearly as effective. All the changes at wide receiver have been significant. They don’t have the explosiveness and playmaking ability at the tight end position that they’ve always had. Their ability to attack in the middle of the field has been hindered. You factor all those things in, it’s amazing to me, the guy is still completing 65 percent of his passes.”

After nine games, the statistics are on-line with Brady’s standards of late. He’s completed 64.8 percent of his passes (230 of 355) for 2,536 yards, which is second-highest in the league. He has thrown 14 touchdown passes to 5 interceptions. His quarterback rating is 93.1. Compared with last season at this stage, he has fewer TD passes (18) while throwing fewer interceptions (7).

With the exception of the Ravens game, the Patriots haven’t been pushed, or forced to come from behind.

They haven’t had to swap scores with any team as yet. With tougher opponents on tap, is Brady still capable of pulling out games, if the need arises?

“I don’t see anything in his play physically, mentally or anything that tells me he’s not capable of doing what he’s always done,” said Gannon, “and I’ve watched him a lot.”

OK. While he may still be physically and mentally up to the challenge, does he have the personnel on offense to still be able to wear the cape? Gannon thought Brady was equipped to handle the job on that level as well.

“I think so only from the standpoint that they’ve shown in the past, their ability to attack and beat you a number of different ways,” he said. “It’s not like if their fastball isn’t working, they can’t get you out. They’ve shown that.”

Gannon has faith offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels will put it together, and Brady will ultimately make it work with the personnel that’s available.

“Julian Edelman is still productive. And so reliable. I think (Mohamed) Sanu can really help them. (Phillip) Dorsett still has a role. The backfield is a good group. (Benjamin) Watson can help a little bit. They’ll need to get the young guys (N’Keal Harry, Jakobi Meyers) going,” said Gannon. “The big thing is to protect better, play better up front, get the running game going. That will cure a lot of their ills right now. But it’s hard to play left-handed all the time.”

Billick also saw the glass as being half full when it came to Brady and the Patriots’ offense.

Was he confident with the game on the line, if the Patriots needed Brady to pull out a win, he could still do it like last year?

“Oh yeah,” Billick said without hesitation. “The offensive line is a bit of a concern. It’s been in flux and had a few issues. But it’s less Tom than the offensive line. He’s on pace for better than 600 throws. I don’t know if ideally they want to do that. Like Drew Brees, they’d like to back that off a little bit. He’s on pace for 25-plus touchdowns and single-digit interceptions. So he’s dealing with it, but it’s not easy when you keep rolling through different receivers and developing that rapport like he has with Edelman and had with Gronk.”

The offense no longer revolves around the tight end position. And for the moment, no longer ignites from the running game. Against the Ravens, they largely went no-huddle, with Brady making all the calls at the line. He’s still a master at that. Gannon marveled at how quickly Brady made all the reads and checks. He wasn’t able to complete the comeback this time around, but Gannon wouldn’t put it past him down the road.

“Brady and Josh have shown great patience and resolve to say, ‘You know what, we’re going to find a way to win,’ ” said Gannon. “‘It might not be pretty, we’re not going to be the team that went 16-0 and scored 6,000 points, we’re going to do it a little differently, and help put ourselves in position to have a chance to win another one.'”

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