The New England Patriots are no stranger to the Super Bowl. The team is tied with the Pittsburgh Steelers for the most Super Bowls wins at six each. However, the Patriots have a three-game lead for most Super Bowl appearances with 11.

The Patriots' last appearance in 2019 was also their last. It has been a few years since they have been a part of “The Big Game,” but their short drought is coming to an end.

Here are three reasons why the Patriots are a lock to compete in Super Bowl LVI.

1. We've seen this film before (sort of)

The parallels between Tom Brady's rookie year and Mac Jones' are uncanny.

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Bill Belichick became the coach of the Patriots in 2000, prior to the draft that year. Belichick has been credited for selecting Brady as the 199th overall pick. Belichick saw the potential in Brady, and the pair took the NFL by storm.

After star Drew Bledsoe got injured, Brady became the starting quarterback for the Patriots in his second season. In that year under Belichick, Brady led the Patriots to a Super Bowl championship.

Fast forward 21 years later, the Patriots selected Mac Jones as the 15th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. The team is both managed and coached by Belichick, so he definitely had a big say in drafting Jones.

So, Brady was drafted to the Patriots by Belichick and won the Super Bowl in his second season and first time as starting QB. Jones was drafted to the Patriots by Belichick and has been highly successful in his rookie year. If a 199th overall pick could lead a team to a championship, why can't a 15th overall pick do the same?

2. Patriots have a very well-rounded team

Brady and the history of the team aside, the current Patriots have exceeded expectations this season. Jones has thrown for 16 touchdowns and 2,850 yards in his first 12 starts as an NFL quarterback. In order to complete a pass, the quarterback needs solid targets. Wide receiver Kendrick Bourne and tight end Hunter Henry are just two of Jones' many options for pass completions.

Along with their pass game, Belichick's wards have a threatening run game. Third-year running back Damien Harris has ran for 643 yards and eight touchdowns this season.

On the other side of the ball, the defense is taking care of business. The Patriots defense ranks first in the league for least points allowed each game. They are third in the league in passing yards allowed.

3. Patriots' current record and future schedule

The Patriots have a current record of 8-4, and their schedule hasn't been easy. Some of their most notable wins include: Week 8 at Los Angeles Chargers, Week 10 against Cleveland Browns, and Week 12 against Tennessee Titans. Although a slightly easier opponent, they also destroyed the Atlanta Falcons, 25-0.

The Patriots currently sit at the top of the AFC East, with the Buffalo Bills not far behind at 7-4. However, Jones and company have their bye week late in the season during Week 14, while the Bills already had theirs in Week 7. Instead of sitting pretty in Week 14 like the Patriots, the Bills have to face defending champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Brady might be able to give his former team a boost if the Buccaneers can pull off the win at home.

In the Patriots' final stretch, they face the Bills twice, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Miami Dolphins. Out of these five games, it's highly likely that they win at least three, assuming they beat the Bills at least once, beat the 2-9 Jaguars, and get redemption from their Week 1 loss to the Dolphins. Finishing 11-6 or 12-5 would give them a decent spot in the NFL Playoffs, pushing them closer to their Super Bowl run.

Not to mention, Brady's sophomore season Super Bowl team finished the regular season 11-5.