In Tuesday's Patriots mailbag on ESPNBoston.com, the primary question was if the team was worthy of Super Bowl contender status.
Based on what we know right now, I wrote that I think the Patriots would be in the "contender" category, although not at the top of the list. Some disagreed, posting in the comments section that it was a bit too friendly to the hometown team.
In that case, who are the true contenders at this time? Understanding that a lot can change once the season begins (e.g. injuries to key players), what teams could one look at and confidently say "They could be in the Super Bowl"?
Here is my list, which accounts for 16 of the league's 32 teams:
AFC East: Dolphins, Jets, Patriots
AFC North: Bengals, Ravens, Steelers
AFC South: Colts
AFC West: Chargers
NFC East: Cowboys, Eagles, Giants
NFC North: Packers, Vikings
NFC South: Saints, Falcons
NFC West: Cardinals