It's difficult to say that the Patriots have any clear rivals as no one has come close to matching their success over the past 15 years, but the Seahawks have emerged as their counterpart in the NFC. Seattle had their sights set on back-to-back Super Bowl titles before they lost to the Patriots in one of the greatest games ever played in Super Bowl 49. Now the roles are reversed as the Patriots head into 2017 as heavy favorites to win back-to-back titles.

Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks are arguably the most talented team in the NFC, and their easy schedule should give them an increased chance of making it back to the Super Bowl this season.

4 of the Seahawks' 16 games will come against the 49ers and Rams. While Seattle has struggled to consistently beat the inferior Rams, they should be able to easily win three of those four games. Their chief competition in the division is the Arizona Cardinals who have an aging quarterback and plenty of holes on their roster. It wouldn't be shocking to see Seattle go 6-0 in their division, which gives them an advantage over the Falcons or Cowboys who play in much tougher divisions.

They've kept together much of their roster from those teams that made back-to-back Super Bowl appearances, and their stars are still in the prime of their careers. The offensive line is still a crippling issue, but Russell Wilson's mobility and a talented backfield should help negate that weakness.

New England Patriots

The Patriots are coming off of their 5th Super Bowl Championship in 16 seasons, and they may have had the league's most successful offseason where they re-signed Donta' Hightower, brought in CB Stephon Gilmore and WR Brandin Cooks, and added some depth along the offensive and defensive lines in the draft.

New England also added some talent to their backfield in Mike Gillislee and Rex Burkhead, and they avoided trading a disgruntled Malcolm Butler.

Tom Brady had another MVP-caliber season at age 39, and staged the most improbable comeback in NFL history in Super Bowl 51. Amazingly, the Patriots are the only team in the league that wouldn't be totally doomed if their starting quarterback went down as Jimmy Garoppolo may be the NFL's most talented backup.

New England also had to overcome some adversity last season with the loss of Rob Gronkowski last November, and now the league's most dangerous tight end should be ready to go for Week 1 of 2017.

Picking the Patriots to win the Super Bowl isn't the boldest selection, but it's impossible to pick against Belichick and Brady and their unprecedented success.