Patriots great Tedy Bruschi reveals which AFC team he thinks is best

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The road to the Super Bowl in the AFC is wide open, and we haven't seen that in a while.

The Patriots have played in seven consecutive AFC Championship Games and won four of them, including three of the last four. But the usual aura of invincibility surrounding the Patriots isn't there this season, partly because they've lost five games in a season for the first time since 2009.

New England still is in the mix, but so are many other teams. The Kansas City Chiefs and San Diego Chargers own the conference's best records at 11-3, but neither team has a track record of postseason success. The Pittsburgh Steelers have loads of experience, but they have played pretty poorly at times. The Houston Texans lead the AFC South and occupy the No. 2 seed with a 10-4 record, but they have a second-year QB with no playoff experience.

So, is there any team to fear in the AFC? Former Patriots linebacker and current ESPN NFL analyst Tedy Bruschi can't find one.

"Big picture, who scares me in the AFC? Nobody scares me in the AFC!" Bruschi said on the latest episode of the "Michael Holley Podcast" from NBC Sports Boston. "I mean, who? Kansas City, are you kidding me? Los Angeles? Pittsburgh? We play them again, you think we can't beat Pittsburgh? The Houston Texans, I know it was (Week 1), but they beat them. They beat the Chiefs. We're talking about the Patriots, of course. They've got some (good) victories. Win these next two, see where the chips fall, and we'll see in the playoffs. I hope that's the mentality they have, and I hope they still have confidence. One seed, two seed, whatever. We can beat any of these teams. And we can be beat by any of these teams. I think they have to know that. That's when the urgency comes in -- when you feel you can also be beat, it's like 'alright, we got to be ready, fellas.'"

If Bruschi had to pick one team as the cream of the crop in the AFC entering Week 16, he's going with one of the AFC West clubs.

"Right now, I would say the best team in the AFC is the Los Angeles Chargers," Bruschi told Holley. "In terms of what I've seen them do, I've seen them go into Pittsburgh and beat Pittsburgh when they were down, I think, 14. I saw their huge win against the Kansas City Chiefs."

The Chargers are really good, and two of their three losses are against two of the NFL's best teams -- the Chiefs and Los Angeles Rams. Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers is playing some of the best football of his career, and for the first time in a while L.A. has a deep, talented team in all three phases.

The Patriots are capable of beating any of these teams, but their road back to the Super Bowl should be a lot tougher than previous seasons, which should make for a thrilling AFC playoffs.

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