The 2018 NFL season kicks off Thursday night when the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles host the Atalanta Falcons at Lincoln Financial Field.

Both the Eagles and Falcons are expected to be among the best teams in the league this year, and both have dreams of winning the loaded NFC and playing for the Lombardi Trophy.

Of course, a number of other teams have the talent to compete for a Super Bowl title, including Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.

Bill Belichick’s squad has been the class of the AFC for the last two decades, and barring any devastating injuries, should once again be among the NFL’s elite.

But where do the Patriots stand in relation to the Falcons, Eagles and other contenders as the season beings? If you ask Colin Cowherd, they aren’t on the same level.

The FOX Sports radio host gave his top 10 teams in the NFL heading into Week 1 Thursday, and while he had the Falcons at No. 1, followed by the Los Angeles Rams, Pittsburgh Steelers, Baltimore Ravens and Eagles taking up the top five, he had the Pats check in all the way down at No. 10.

The loss of Nate Solder likely will be a huge blow to the Patriots, especially if Brady spends a lot of time either on his back or running for his life. New England’s receiving corps also leaves a lot to be desired. With Julian Edelman facing a month-long PED suspension and Danny Amendola and Brandin Cooks playing for other franchises, the Pats will have to rely even more on Brady’s greatness to propel the offense.

Despite their limitations and issues, the Patriots still are the best team in the AFC at this point, and until the Steelers, Ravens or Jacksonville Jaguars prove they are better, we will roll with Brady and Co.

Thumbnail photo via Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports Photo