The New England Patriots have endured arguably their most tumultuous offseason since Bill Parcells' departure in 1997. With the sudden breakup of their dynamic tight end duo, enormous turnover at receiver and a defense still striving to prove itself, some are predicting doom and gloom in Foxboro this season.
And yet, as long as Tom Brady is still standing and Bill Belichick is roaming the sidelines, it's hard to imagine a total collapse. The two have never finished worse than 9-7 in a season together, and the 2013 Patriots certainly have more talent than some previous incarnations.
Still, the playoffs have not been the standard in New England for quite some time. Brady will turn 36 in August, and every year without a ring is another wasted year in the golden era of Patriots football. If the Patriots hope to reach the Meadowlands in February, they will have to overcome some up-and-comers as well as familiar foes in the AFC.
Here's a look at the seven AFC teams most likely to send Foxboro into a bitter January winter this season.
*All stats courtesy Pro-Football-Reference.com