Top 5 reasons why the Patriots are still contenders

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Boston Globe sports writer and proud Patriots troll Dan Shaughnessy wrote after the AFC Championship loss that the Patriots have “become prisoners of the standard they set 10 years ago when they could win big games against good teams in January.” Today, cover32 breaks down five reasons why those same standards keep the Patriot’s championship window at least slightly ajar for the foreseeable future:

1. Leadership
The front office and coaching staff is firmly intact. Belichick said as much at a rare NFL combine presser yesterday. Yes, Pepper Johnson was a loss, but it reaffirmed the role of Matt Patricia, who fielded one of the better defenses in recent years, particularly on the outside. And how could you not miss Dante Scarnecchia? He lived and breathed in the trenches. Nick Caserio and Josh McDaniels reaffirmed their commitment to developing the talent that is already in house, and the addition of Mike Lombardi as an assistant to the coaching staff underscores that the run game will continue to be a priority. With Belichick and Kraft showing no signs of weariness, this core and their stability is the stuff that NFL GMs dream of. Expect more cost-effective investments in the Patriots roster and the typical game-by-game, team first mentality Patriots fans have grown to love.

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