On paper, the New England Patriots look loaded. Their offense has as many weapons as any team during the Tom Brady-Bill Belichick era. The defense has plenty of questions but also boasts more promising young talent than they have had in years.
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That means the Patriots will be a popular pick to make it back to the Super Bowl, despite history saying it's unlikely to happen.
ESPN.com points out that that it has been 39 years since a Super Bowl loser has won the following season. Seventeen straight Super Bowl losers have failed to make it back to the big game.
If there is one team that can beat the odds, however, it is this New England squad. Only one 2010 division champion defended its title last year: New England. The team has won the AFC East nine times in the past 11 years; the Patriots lost tiebreakers for the top spot the other two times.
Spoiled Pats fans want another title, but the team's consistency since its last championship is what sets the franchise apart. They won 11 games with Matt Cassel in 2008, during the only season that didn't result in a playoff spot since their last title.
It would be stunning if the Patriots weren't in the playoffs. Get to January, and suddenly those long historical odds won't seem as daunting.