The Patriots proved last season that they will go down in history as one of the greatest franchises of all time in the Bill Belichick and Tom Brady era. With Brady continuing to play, it wouldn't be a surprise to see the Patriots compete for even more Super Bowls in the future. They already play in a fairly weak AFC conference that should be relatively easy for the Patriots to dominate. But that doesn't mean things will be extremely easy for Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots. Which teams could actually present a challenge to the Patriots in the 2017 NFL season?

1. Oakland Raiders.

For a significant portion of the year, the Raiders were competing with the Patriots for the top seed in the AFC. Quarterback Derek Carr was having one of his best seasons ever and was regularly leading Oakland to comeback efforts. Raiders fans had to be disappointed when Carr went down with an injury in the last week of the year. That injury prevented the Raiders from competing with the Patriots in the playoffs last season, but they'll be back in 2017.

2. Pittsburgh Steelers.

Ben Roethlisberger always gives the Steelers a chance.

That makes Pittsburgh dangerous each year, and especially dangerous because of the talent and weapons they have on offense. Le'veon Bell is easily a top five running back. Antonio Brown is the best wide receiver in the league. And Roethlisberger, when healthy, is also a potent quarterback. Those weapons should allow the Steelers to compete with the Patriots again next season.

3. Kansas City Chiefs.

The Chiefs play an interesting style of football that relies on both the run game and a quick passing attack.

Last year, it helped Alex Smith and the Chiefs land the 2nd seed in the AFC conference. That was partially aided by Derek Carr's injury, but it was also a testament to the balanced team that the Chiefs have fielded in the past few seasons. Their combination of aggressive defense paired with efficient offense should help Kansas City compete with the Patriots in 2017.

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