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The New England Patriots have dominated the AFC for the past decade and a half. Once Drew Bledsoe got clocked in that fateful Week 3 game back in 2001, a new era began in New England, and the train is still rolling.
Thanks to Bill Belichick, a future Hall of Fame quarterback in Tom Brady and a culture of winning that pervades Patriot Place, the Patriots have maintained their dominance for nearly 15 years. They’ve reached the past four AFC Championships, and just won a Super Bowl, so no one can say that there has been a let-up since the glory years of the early-2000s dynasty.
However, it’s never easy for the Patriots. Traversing the AFC en route to January is no walk in the park, as there is always a handful of top-flight contenders the Pats must knock off. And the nature of the NFL being one of change, you never know who the next big threat will be.
To help pass the time until training camp, we’re ranking the 15 other AFC teams in terms of their ability to bump the Patriots off the top of the conference power ladder. The 2014 playoffs and regular season records serve as the basis for this ranking, with the other main criteria being offseason fortifications.
Think of this as essentially an AFC power rankings, one in which the Patriots reside at No. 1. Of course.
Next: 15. Tennessee Titans