Unseating the Patriots: Can it Happen?

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Entering the league’s 100th season, the team that has dominated for the last 20 years remains at the top of the mountain coming off a Super Bowl LIII victory over the Los Angeles Rams. Their record-tying sixth championship in franchise history.

And yes, an early look at the Super Bowl odds favor the Patriots as they seek to reach their fourth Super Bowl in-a-row and 10th in the last 20 years. Another win would break a tie between them and the Pittsburgh Steelers for most Super Bowls in league history. And, of course, another victory would further elevate the legend of quarterback Tom Brady as he would own more championships than any FRANCHISE, save for New England.

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With that said, another year is indeed here and a new crop of potential party spoilers exist. At least for now. Speaking specifically about the AFC, here are the teams with the best chance to dethrone the Patriots.

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Kansas City Chiefs

The clear and obvious choice for a lot of people, the Chiefs will likely be many folks choice to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. Can you blame them? Second-year quarterback Patrick Mahomes lit the league on fire as he became the third signal-caller to throw for at least 50 touchdowns en route to a league MVP award in his first year as a starter. The Chiefs return many of their offensive weapons such as Travis Kelceand Tyreek Hill. In addition, they will welcome in explosive rookie Mecole Hardmen to the fold. However, the offense was not the issue for the Chiefs in 2018 when they lost twice to the Patriots including an overtime defeat in the AFC Championship Game.

The biggest question for the Chiefs in their quest to unseat the Patriots is their defense. In 2018, the Chiefs defense surrendered 26.3 points per game and 406 yards per game. Both bottom third in the league. In two games against the Patriots, the Chiefs allowed 80 points while the 41-year-old Brady carved them up for 688 yards while completing 67 percent of his passes. In the offseason, the Chiefs swapped out Eric Berry for Tyrann Mathieu and added Frank Clark to the defensive line. Will it be enough to slow down the Patriots? It will have to be if they hope to reach the Super Bowl.

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Indianapolis Colts

The hopes of this franchise rest on the shoulders (or ankle) of quarterback Andrew Luck. After missing all of 2017 with an injury, Luck returned in 2018 tossing 39 touchdowns and throwing 4,593 yards in 16 games as he led the Colts to a 10-6 record and a playoff birth after starting the season 1-5. Their year ended in the divisional round against the Chiefs.

However, questions have already begun to surface about Luck’s health heading into 2019.  One game into the preseason and there has been some concern over Luck’s availability for week one as he reportedly is dealing with some form of an ankle sprain. Without a healthy Luck, you can throw the season away for the Colts and eliminate any possibility they could beat the Patriots.

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Cleveland Browns

Yes, you are reading that correctly. The Cleveland Browns, not the Steelers or the Texans occupy the third spot on this list. The hype is quite obvious for this team. They have an abundance of talent on both sides of the ball from Odell Beckham Jr.and Myles Garrettto second-year signal-caller Baker Mayfieldall under new head coach Freddie Kitchens.

It’s hard to imagine a team that won just one game between the 2016 and 2017 season would have a chance to topple the Patriots but they do. That is if all this talent comes together and things gel instantly. And let’s be clear, it is one thing to acquire talent. It’s another to get them to play together and win. Paging Eagles ‘Dream Team’. We know what the Patriots are regardless of the opponent. What we don’t know is what the Browns will be in 2018. Of all the teams in the AFC and quite possibly the league, the Browns have the largest gap between ceiling and floor. And yes, that ceiling could mean Super Bowl. And the floor? Well, at the very least, it can’t be worse than the Hue Jackson era.

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