Player X: How to spot a contender

How do you know if a team is for real? Just listen.

Updated: November 19, 2009, 2:52 PM ET
By Player X | ESPN The Magazine
Roberto Schmidt/Getty ImagesThe Lombardi trophy is easy to spot. It's more difficult to pick out a contender in the NFL.

This column appears in the Nov. 30 issue of ESPN The Magazine.

We're more than halfway through the NFL season, and I know fans are wondering, Which of these contenders is for real? My short answer: We don't know yet.

For more info from ESPN The Magazine's top-secret NFL insider columnist on what makes a pretender and a contender -- and if the New Orleans Saints are (a) or (b) -- you must be an ESPN Insider.