What Teams in the AFC are the Biggest Threat to the Patriots?
The Patriots, as always, will be the team to beat in the AFC this coming season, but which teams could unseat the Patriots? Let’s take a look.
1) Oakland Raiders
The Raiders were probably the biggest threat last year to the Patriots until the untimely injury to QB Derek Carr ended their chances late in the season. The Raiders added some players to help in making a run at the Patriots, picking up TE Jared Cook, RB Marshawn Lynch, LB Jelani Jenkins, and WR Cordarrelle Patterson. The most interesting addition has to be Lynch at running back.
Why they are a threat – They have an elite pass rusher, a dominant offensive line, and a franchise QB. On paper, not many teams have the kind of talent that the Raiders do. The big question for the Raiders will be can the defense step it up and play to the skill level they possess?
Why they are not a threat – This is a team that could use more depth, especially on the offensive line and of course, as I have already mentioned this earlier, can the defense put it all together? The other question I have is can anybody really imagine a Jack Del Rio-coached team beating the Patriots in the playoffs?
2) Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers advanced all the way to the conference championship game last year before being dominated by the Patriots. The question is can they improve enough to get them past the Patriots?
Why they are a threat – Look no further than Big Ben, Bell, and Antonio Brown, these three players make the Steelers a legit threat to win it all. They had a solid draft and added yet another possible big-time receiver to the offense.
Why they are not a threat – They really, outside of the draft, stood pat during the off-season and I don’t think they have improved to the point where they can beat the Patriots. The secondary still has huge question marks and it will be hard to overcome Tom Brady with a below average secondary.
3) Houston Texans
The Texans actually played the Patriots tougher than the Steelers did in last years post season. The Texans are a very talented team that just needs to fill in one position to be a serious contender to the Patriots.
Why they are a threat – The Texans have a roster full of talent. Last year, they lacked a QB, so they went out and got DeShaun Watson. But will that be enough? Probably not, but he gives them a chance as he is known as a big game QB. But that was in college and this is NOT college.
Why they are not a threat – Watson will be an upgrade at the QB position for the Texans, but there is no way a rookie QB is going to beat a Belichick-led team in the playoffs.
4) Baltimore Ravens
It is true that the Ravens are rebuilding, but as long as Harbaugh and Flacco are in Baltimore, the Patriots have to respect the Ravens. No team has given the Patriots more trouble.
Why they are a threat – As we stated, no team has had the success against the Patriots that the Ravens have had. The Ravens seemed to have completely rebuilt the defensive side of the football and they are big, strong, and physical, and give everybody fits with their defense.
Why they are not a threat – They have not completed rebuilding the offense. and they just don’t have the weapons to score enough to beat the Patriots.
5) Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins are a young dynamic team, led by a young dynamic head coach.
Why they are a threat – The Dolphins are a young team, but maybe that’s an advantage. Maybe they don’t know they can’t take down the Patriots? Offensively they should be loaded. But the questions for this team will be on defense.
Why they are not a threat – They just don’t have enough on the defensive side of the ball yet, but they are headed in the right direction.