As heartbreaking as the Super Bowl loss to the Giants was, always remember, Patriots fans: having Tom Brady and Bill Belichick is a combination that any team would love to have.
Five Super Bowl appearances and three victories in 11 seasons together cannot be dismissed by any person.
The main competition in the AFC this past season seemed to struggle late in big games.
For Pittsburgh, it is most likely going to lose Hines Ward to retirement and Rashard Mendenhall to knee injury.
Baltimore is a strong and dangerous team, but its defense continues to age and quarterback Joe Flacco seems to be stuck and cannot get over the hump in the playoffs.
Other teams such as Houston, San Diego and New York could pose a threat, but with Brady and Belichick, New England looks to be in a good starting position going into 2012.
Most people questioned Brady's age going into this past season (he'll be 35 in August) and he had an MVP-type year. With targets such as Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez and most likely Wes Welker, Brady has the chance to be the top guy for another season.
If Belichick works with the defense and gets them on a consistent level of performance, then more pressure will be off of Brady and the offense's shoulders.
Both guys are first-ballot Hall of Famers and, from the words they spoke after the Super Bowl, they want to add to their already impressive resumes.