With the agony of the New England Patriots' loss to the New York Giants still sinking in, there is hope yet for Pats fans with an insatiable desire for Tom Brady and Bill Belichick to bring home ring number four.
So don't lose hope Pats fans, here are five reasons that Tom Brady will play in Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans next season.
The 34-year-old veteran will turn 35 this August, but despite that most of his NFL career is behind him, the Pats have a reason to remain positive about their star player.
His best days look yet to come and his age is likely to not even be a factor next year given how other Super Bowl champions have fared in the twilight of their careers.
Legendary quarterback John Elway, for example, led the Denver Broncos to back-to-back Super Bowl championships in 1998 and 1999—at ages 37 and 38.
Better news yet? Tom Brady plans to play in the NFL until he's 40 years old.
Belichick and Brady have been deadly together, bringing New England its first ever Super Bowl championship.
In 2007, Bill Belichick signed a long-term contract extension with the New England Patriots, instating him as head coach through the 2013 season.
Belichick has led the Patriots to two Super Bowls since signing the contract and five Super Bowls in total.
The pair have won the AFC East division nine of eleven seasons together and, this season, they surpassed Don Shula and Dan Marino to become the winningest head coach/quarterback duo.
Given that Brady will still have his partner in crime next season, there's a definite possibility they make it to New Orleans in 2013.
The conventional wisdom has been that "defense wins championships," but New England's has been a thorn in Tom Brady's side all season.
While No. 12 surpassed Dan Marino's single season passing record this year, his defense ranked among the bottom of the league, allowing an average 411.1 yards per game.
But there is reason to believe that New England's D will improve next year.
The Pats have two first round and two second round draft picks in the 2012 draft.
New England should use these picks as an opportunity to build an outstanding defense for the upcoming season.
In addition to their ability to add solid players, the Patriots have several young defenders who look promising.
Despite Devin McCourty's sophomore slump, his performance in 2010 shows that he has the potential to become a staple in the Pats' D.
Sterling Moore, who was not invited to the NFL Scouting Combine last February, is largely responsible for the Patriots' trip to Super Bowl XLVI after he made a game-saving play in the end zone against Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Lee Evans. Expect to see more out of him in the coming years.
Rookie cornerback Ras-I Dowling, New England's second round pick in the 2011 draft, looked to be a promising player until a season-ending injury placed him on injured reserve. His return will certainly make this defense stronger.
Ultimately, the Pats' D will get better for Brady in the 2012 season as it cannot get much worse.
Rob Gronkowski is just getting started. At the conclusion of today's Super Bowl, the tight end completed his second year with the Patriots.
He signed a four year contract with them prior to the 2010 season, meaning he'll be around the organization for at least two more years.
Expect an encore performance by Gronkowski in the 2012 season.
Aaron Hernandez, who was overshadowed all season by Gronkowski's success, is also a powerful weapon for the Pats. In the Super Bowl, he put up 67 yards and a touchdown against the New York Giants.
Hernandez is sure to remain a force on this Patriots offense.
Rookie running back Stevan Ridley is due for a big season next year. No. 22 exhibited a fiery explosiveness this year. With more carries next season, the Patriots will have a deep ground game with BenJarvus Green-Ellis alongside Ridley in the back field.
These guys will certainly help lead New England back to the Super Bowl.
The rest of the AFC East is in shambles.
The New York Jets are the most formidable of New England's AFC East foes, but their 2011 season was marked by locker room discord and disunity.
Wide receiver Santonio Holmes was benched in the last game of the regular season after mouthing off in the huddle, an incident reflective of a deeper rift that existed all year among the offense.
As a result of their poor offensive showing, New York fired offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer.
But New York's real problem on offense may originate at the quarterback position, and rumors have circulated alleging that some within the Jets organization are unhappy with Mark Sanchez.
Given all their issues, the Jets will be on shaky ground over next year as they attempt to plug up the holes in their organization.
Up in Buffalo, the Bills signed Ryan Fitzpatrick to a six year contract extension after he led them to a 4-2 start.
The Bills went on to finish last in the AFC East with a 6-10 record.
Though Buffalo is in the midst of a rebuilding stage, they still have yet to find a core base of players to rally around.
The Miami Dolphins finally parted ways with head coach Tony Sparano after missing the playoffs for the third year in a row.
Their organization will spend the next several years rebooting as they seek to find a consistent quarterback and test out their new head coach, Joe Philbin, former offensive coordinator of the Green Bay Packers.
The stage is set in the AFC East for the Patriots to have a clear path to the playoffs in the coming season.