New England had a strong draft by almost all accounts highlighted by the selections of Chandler Jones and Dont'a Hightower. Bill Belichick always seems to have twice the picks of everyone else and this year was no exception.
The Patriots also had a pretty strong free agency period so it's easy to see why Thorman has them ranked so highly once again after their Super Bowl defeat.
Brandon Lloyd was brought in to reunite with Josh McDaniels while no key player was lost with the exception of perhaps Mark Anderson and BenJarvus Green-Ellis.
Of course, as long as Tom Brady and Belichick are around, this team will always be a playoff caliber unit with a chance to have confetti raining down on them in February.
If New England does in fact have an improved defense, they might even move up in the rankings sooner rather than later.