ESPN ranks Pats 2nd in 'future power rankings'

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For Patriots fans this century, the present has always been bright. New England has stood atop conventional power rankings since Tom Brady's ascendance in 2001. By the looks of things, that run of success won't slow down anytime soon. ESPN concurs, ranking the Pats second in the NFL in their recent 'future power rankings.'

The 'future power rankings' combine evaluations from multiple NFL insiders on different aspects of a team's overall performance. Facets like coaching, roster, quarterback, and front office are all graded. After analyzing the results, the Pats placed second--behind only the Philadelphia Eagles.

Since the "future" in these rankings means only three years, it's not hard to see why the Patriots scored so highly. The Belichick-Brady combination seems a safe bet to last three more years, and the rest of the roster is young and talented as well. While the rankers chose the Eagles first (it's not hard to see why, with Carson Wentz on a cheap contract and the rest of the core signed through 2020 or later), New England's strength at those two crucial areas makes them an obvious pick for the top five.

That doesn't mean everything is smooth sailing for the Patriots, though. The team must re-sign Rob Gronkowski to an extension soon and deal with depth issues along much of the defense. More importantly, they must find a quarterback to succeed Brady. If either he or Belichick retire anytime soon, it would completely change the team's roster calculus.

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