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IRVING (105.3 THE FAN) – The NFL has handed down its punishment in the Patriots’ deflated-balls controversy and, pending appeal, the Cowboys are among the beneficiaries.

The Super Bowl champs will begin the defense of their title having been fined $1 million, having been stripped of a 2016 first-round pick and a 2017 fourth-rounder in the NFL Draft, and, most importantly, with their all-time-great QB sidelined.

The NFL announced Monday that Tom Brady  “more probably than not’’ directly involved in the deflation of game balls used in the AFC Championship Game win over the Colts, will pay his price by being ineligible for the first four games of the 2015 season.

New England’s scheduled to play at Dallas on Oct. 11. That’s Week 5 for the Cowboys, but it’s Game 4 for the Patriots, who have an early-season bye.

The weakened Patriots will likely be quarterbacked that day by Jimmy Garoppolo, a second-round pick from last season. But again, this is pending an expected appeal from Brady.

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