ESPN panel: Texans, Ravens over Patriots

ESPN's veteran NFL panel has spoken: The Houston Texans and Baltimore Ravens are the favorites to win the AFC over the New England Patriots.

Our esteemed panel of John Clayton, Chris Mortensen, Adam Schefter, Herm Edwards, Bill Polian and Mel Kiper Jr. represent many decades of NFL experience that range from coaching, reporting and working in the front office. Only one expert, Clayton, picked the Patriots to repeat as AFC champions. But Clayton has New England losing to the Green Bay Packers in the Super Bowl.

Four people picked the Texans to win the AFC. They have become a popular pick after winning a playoff game without their starting quarterback: Matt Schaub. Now, Schaub is back and healthy and the Texans look even stronger.

Two experts picked the Ravens, who were just one missed field goal away from potentially advancing to last season's Super Bowl.

The Patriots have a lot of bad history going against them. Earlier this offseason, we wrote in the AFC East blog how tough it is for a Super Bowl runner-up to get back to the big game and win a title. It hasn't happened since the Miami Dolphins did it in 1973.