Even with possibility of changes, Patriots should contend again

Here’s a look at the Super Bowl prospects of the New England Patriots for next year:

Westgate odds of winning Super Bowl LIII: 5-1

Realistic Super Bowl expectations: No team has better odds than the Patriots, even as the organization braces itself for some changes on the coaching staff, and with Tom Brady set to celebrate his 41st birthday in August. But here is one question to consider: Will all the additional mileage catch up to them? In three of the past four seasons, the team has played into early February. While about 33 percent of the roster turns over each year, the drain of playing a longer season can still be far-reaching -- on players, coaches, scouts, etc. As for the schedule, the Patriots will play the AFC South and NFC North in 2018, which means it's a year of facing some teams with head coaches who know them well, having come through the New England system -- Tennessee (Mike Vrabel), Detroit (Matt Patricia) and Houston (Bill O'Brien). An AFC Championship Game rematch with the Jaguars, this time in Jacksonville, is also on the schedule, and a home date against the NFC finalist Vikings should be highly anticipated. In the end, it's possible that one of the oft-mentioned thoughts about the Patriots -- that they are a contender as long as they have Bill Belichick as coach and Brady at quarterback -- is truly tested. It has been an impressive 18-year run with them leading the way, and their leadership will be critical for the team to return to the Super Bowl once again.