After beating the Seattle Seahawks in the 2015 Super Bowl, the New England Patriots have won their fourth championship in the last 14 seasons. No Super Bowl champ has repeated since the Patriots did it in 2005, but Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and Co. have a legitimate chance to make history next year.

Salary-cap restrictions always force the Patriots to lose a few players in the offseason, but that hasn’t prevented New England from competing for a title every year. Since Brady took over for Drew Bledsoe and led the team to their first ever championship, the Patriots have missed the playoffs just twice, including the year in which Brady missed the final 15 games with an injury. In 14 seasons, New England has reached six Super Bowls and nine conference championship games, winning at least 12 games on nine different occasions.

On offense, the Patriots will look very similar, as they attempt to win the 2016 Super Bowl. In addition to Brady returning for a 15th year as the starting quarterback, Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman and Brandon LaFell are all under contract. Running backs Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley are unrestricted free agents, but they totaled just 731 rushing yards this season. LeGarrette Blount ended the year as the team’s top rusher, and he’s signed for another year.

The biggest changes for New England could come on defense. Cornerback Darrelle Revis will probably become a free agent, since the Patriots aren’t likely to pick up his $20 million option for the 2015 season. Revis’ top choice might be to re-sign with the defending champs, but the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills will reportedly try to sign the All-Pro. Safety Devin McCourty and linebacker Akeem Ayers will also be free to sign elsewhere, though Brady restructured his contract at the end of the season, which freed up $24 million for the franchise to spend on players. 

An improved defense helped the Patriots avoid the disappointing playoff losses they had suffered in recent seasons, and the midseason addition of Ayers helped bolster the unit. However, the team is almost always above average under Belichick on both sides of the ball, ranking in the top 10 in scoring defense in eight of the last nine years.  

While they are led by veterans like Brady and Vince Wilfork, who have been with the team for over a decade, New England’s core is surprisingly young. The average age of the Patriots makes them the youngest Super Bowl-winning team in league history.

Because of their mix of experience, youth and talent, the Patriots are clearly the favorites in the AFC, heading into next season. The Denver Broncos have been their biggest competition in the regular season over the last three years, but it’s unknown if Peyton Manning will be a top quarterback in 2015. The Pittsburgh Steelers, Cincinnati Bengals and Baltimore Ravens should be good again, but they aren’t as good as New England. The Indianapolis Colts could provide the biggest challenge to the Patriots, as Andrew Luck develops into an elite quarterback, but New England has dominated them in two straight playoff games.

Playing in the AFC should give the Patriots an advantage in trying to repeat. Even though the Seahawks lost on Sunday, they are still the favorites to win the 2016 Super Bowl, boasting one of the best defenses the league has seen in years. The Green Bay Packers could also give the Patriots a lot of trouble, barely losing in the NFC Championship. As good as Brady remains, many consider Aaron Rodgers the NFL's best quarterback.

Below is a look at early power rankings for the 2015 NFL season.

1) Seattle Seahawks

2) New England Patriots

3) Green Bay Packers

4) Indianapolis Colts

5) Denver Broncos

6) Dallas Cowboys

7) Baltimore Ravens

8) Philadelphia Eagles

9) Arizona Cardinals

10) Detroit Lions

11) Pittsburgh Steelers

12) New Orleans Saints

13) San Francisco 49ers

14) Cincinnati Bengals

15) New York Giants

16) Kansas City Chiefs

17) San Diego Chargers

18) Miami Dolphins

19) Buffalo Bills

20) Atlanta Falcons

21) Carolina Panthers

22) Houston Texans

23) Minnesota Vikings

24) Chicago Bears

25) St. Louis Rams

26) New York Jets

27) Cleveland Browns

28) Washington Redskins

29) Tamp Bay Buccaneers

30) Tennessee Titans

31) Oakland Raiders

32) Jacksonville Jaguars