The New England Patriots will begin their quest for a sixth Super Bowl championship Thursday night against the Kansas City Chiefs. ESPN believes there are five teams that could foil New England’s aspirations.
ESPN listed the Pittsburgh Steelers, Oakland Raiders, Atlanta Falcons, Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks as the five teams that could dethrone the Patriots this season. New England will play both AFC foes during the regular season and ESPN gives each a fair shake at taking them down.
ESPN gave the Steelers a 48.9 percent chance of beating New England when they square off at Heinz Field in Week 15. The Patriots toppled the Steelers to get to the Super Bowl last season, but ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler believes a chance in scheme could give Pittsburgh a better shot this year.
“The Steelers know top-shelf quarterbacks can beat their zone coverages, so they’ve looked to beef up their secondary for schematic flexibility,” Fowler wrote. “That might not stop Brady, but Pittsburgh is hopeful it has enough defensive firepower to keep the score reasonable and let the offense be the first to 30 points.”
The Raiders are given a 40.6 percent chance to beat the Patriots when the two teams square off in Mexico City in Week 11. Oakland has a talented offense led by franchise quarterback Derek Carr, but a questionable secondary might be ripe for the picking.
The best competition to the Patriots might come from the NFC. The Packers have the best quarterback in the league not named Tom Brady in Aaron Rodgers. Seattle has a defense capable of shutting down New England’s high-powered offense.
The Patriots will remain the heavy favorites to win the AFC and the Super Bowl. But there will be plenty of teams vying to unseat them.