To be honest, I don't think the Patriots have the players right now to compete with the Seahawks/49'ers. I mean the Broncos clearly showed that their regular players (behind the stars like Manning and D. Thomas) weren't as good as the Seahwaks regular players. Add to that the Broncos clearly showed that their regular players were better then the Patriots regular players, and I think we can conclude that the Patriots need their players to take the next step.
Many of them got a lot of reps this year due to people like Wilfork and Mayo not being there. Let's see if that extra experience pays off when they need to play snaps next year as role players again, instead of starters. With the coaching the Patriots get I'm always willing to wait and see what they can do with an extra year of coaching and training, but guys like Chandler Jones needs to become a force, and not just a good player to take this Patriots team beyond being a good team to a Superbowl contending team.