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To put it mildly, the New England Patriots have been on an unprecedented run since New York Jets linebacker Mo Lewis knocked then-Pats starting QB Drew Bledsoe out of a game in 2001, and forced Bill Belichick to turn to the then-unknown Tom Brady.
During the Brady-Belichick era, the Patriots have racked up six Super Bowl rings, nine Super Bowl apperances, and have shattered the record for most wins in a 10-year span in back-to-back decades.
The Patriots have seemingly saved their best for last, as they've appeared in three straight Super Bowls, winning two, but this reign can't last forever. So let's take a look at three AFC teams that can prevent the Patriots from reaching another Super Bowl this coming season.
3. Cleveland Browns
This may look absurd, but the Cleveland Browns might be the most talented team in the NFL on paper. Baker Mayfield will need to take the next step in order for the Browns to compete for a title, but adding Odell Beckham Jr. should help his development. More importantly, the Browns have the one thing that has given the Patriots trouble in the past: an elite pass-rush unit. With Myles Garrett, Olivier Vernon, Sheldon Richardson and Larry Ogunjobi, this team could be close to unblockable next season. If the Browns are anywhere near as good as they look on paper, they have a chance to knock New England out the playoffs next.
2. Indianapolis Colts
The Indianapolis Colts have one of the most impressive young cores in the NFL. If this team takes the next step, it's not hard to envision them competing with New England for the title of AFC champion. Indianapolis has an elite offensive line, a scrappy defense and great skill-position players to go along with QB Andrew Luck. If Luck can improve in his second season under head coach Frank Reich, the Colts could make a serious run in the postseason. Another round of the Colts-Patriots rivalry could be the passing of the torch in the AFC.
1. Kansas City Chiefs
It's not hard to figure out why the Kansas City Chiefs are atop this list, considering they were a fluke-offsides call away from defeating New England in last season's AFC Championship Game. Even though Kansas City hasn't had an ideal offseason, the Chiefs did add Tyrann Mathieu, who is one of the best ball-hawk safeties in the NFL. Patrick Mahomes was also only in his first year as a starter last season, so he's likely to take another leap forward. The Chiefs are undoubtedly one of the best teams in the National Football League, and they're likely going to be the Patriots' biggest obstacle in New England's quest for a fourth straight Super bowl appearance.
Max Staley is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Max Staley also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username mstaley1212. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.