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Will Belichick win Coach of the Year?

In covering a team on a day-to-day basis, there's a tendency to take notice of aspects of a particular player or coach that may otherwise go unnoticed.

Those details can sway your opinion from one end of the spectrum to the other, or, at the very least, strengthen it.

Admitting that, there is still a convincing argument to be made that Bill Belichick was the coach of the year in the NFL this season, an award that is due to be handed out Saturday evening at the NFL's annual awards banquet.

On the surface, 2013 may not look any different than many other recent Patriots season; yet another 12 regular season wins, yet another division title, yet another first-round playoff bye.

But -- and this is no secret -- the circumstances behind the success are impossible to overlook.

It started before the season even began, as the Patriots cut ties with their most versatile offensive player in tight end Aaron Hernandez. There wasn't enough time for the team to make up for his loss through free agency, so it was forced to adapt.

It did.

And then the injuries happened. Vince Wilfork, Jerod Mayo, Tommy Kelly, Sebastian Vollmer ... all critical contributors. All placed on injured reserve.

Tight end Rob Gronkowski would eventually return, but only briefly, as he tore his ACL and joined the group on injured reserve.

The theme of the 2013 Patriots was injuries almost as much as it was anything else.

The Patriots also endured through an uncharacteristically slow start by quarterback Tom Brady, and while it's clear that the cast of receivers around him didn't stack up to what he had in 2012 -- and Belichick is ultimately in control of the roster -- Brady still left yards on the field before a scintillating stretch to finish the regular season (particularly from early November to mid-December).

During that time, the defense stepped up. A secondary that was the butt of enough jokes to fill a stand-up show in 2012 became an area of strength. The front seven pieced it together -- at least enough to stay in games -- with undrafted free agents and castoffs who had been cut multiple times before the season even started.

The defense was a hodgepodge of talent and the offense was working through growing pains stemming from personnel turnover.

But the Patriots held steady, playing exceptional situational football and giving credence to the notion that no game is over until the clock officially strikes zero. First it was New Orleans, then Denver, and Cleveland. Each finish more dramatic than the last.

There were injuries, adversity, the adjustment in offensive identity and more.

As Belichick often says, every team deals with injuries and challenges of its own, but the case can be made that the Patriots overcame as many hurdles this season -- yes, even more than playing without Tom Brady for all but 15 minutes during the 2008 season -- than any other during the Bill Belichick era.

Ron Rivera turned the Panthers around, as Andy Reid did with the Chiefs. Pete Carroll (Seahawks) and John Fox (Broncos) each won 13 games and the work of coaches such as Bruce Arians (Cardinals) and Mike McCoy (Chargers) ought not to go unnoticed.

But during a season when circumstances suggested a downward spiral, Belichick was the constant behind yet another near trip to the Super Bowl. In fact, the entire coaching staff was the constant, as no coach can do it alone.

I don't have a ballot for tonight's award, but if I did, Belichick's name -- representing all of the Patriots coaches -- would land on it.