<
>

New England Patriots: No. 43

Barry Chin/Getty Images

This story is part of ESPN The Magazine's September 29 Fansourced Issue. Subscribe today!

Last year's ranking: 39
Title track: 17
Ownership: 31
Coaching: 2
Players: 16
Fan relations: 51
Affordability: 99
Stadium experience: 61
Bang for the buck: 44

Since 2005, there have been two certainties with the Patriots: They will compete for the Super Bowl and come up just short. New England may have won its 10th division title in the last 11 years last season -- making it the only team since the AFL-NFL merger to accomplish that feat -- but the Patriots ultimately lost in the AFC Championship Game, just as they did the year before. Really, ever since Tom Brady and Bill Belichick won their third title in 2004, it's been nothing but year-end blues for the duo. Naturally, the Pats' title track rank remains fairly strong at 17 and Lord Hoodie scored the highest of all NFL coaches; he's been first or second in that category for four years running. But Tom Brady is now 37 and had his lowest completion percentage last season (60.5) since 2003. Much of that was a result of dealing with a pack of inexperienced receivers and a brutal season-ending injury to TE Rob Gronkowski. Gronkowski missed nine games last season with multiple injuries (back, forearm, MCL and ACL) and has missed 14 games in the last two seasons.

Much of this Patriots season will, of course, be riding on Gronkowski's health, and while the Patriots' category rankings remained fairly unchanged from last year, he may be responsible for their one big dip: a 21-place drop in fan relations. The simplest explanation: Following knee surgery, Gronk was able to party with only 79 percent of all New Englanders last summer, not the usual 100.