Top questions facing contenders
Do the Pats have enough offense? Will the Broncos get to the quarterback?
- Jim Rogash/Getty ImagesWill Tom Brady and the Patriots have enough downfield threats to compete for a title?
Parity often reigns in the NFL, as, for example, few predicted entering the 2012 season that a trio of 2011 division bottom-dwellers -- Indianapolis, Washington and Minnesota -- would combine for 31 regular-season wins, with each team qualifying for the playoffs (the Redskins via a division championship).
Another team (or perhaps more than one) is likely to surprise again this season, catching many of the prognosticators off guard and reminding us that the process of rebuilding an NFL franchise is neither precise nor predictable.
But there are other teams that we are confident in proclaiming contenders before game action beginning, many of which were contenders for Super Bowl XLVII a year ago.
None of these contenders are without flaws, however, one of which will be highlighted below. More specifically, we're going to examine an area of weakness on the roster that could hold back the rest of the team in its quest for a Lombardi triumph.
Position group: Tight end/wide receivers
Snapshot: We'll lump these two together, as the passing game is a work in progress for the Patriots after an unusual offseason that saw Wes Welker depart and the team part ways with Aaron Hernandez and Brandon Lloyd. Two of the team's other top five receivers from 2012, Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman, remain on PUP early on in training camp, leaving Tom Brady to work with a sampling of largely rookies and relative unknowns, outside of newcomer Danny Amendola. As a matter of fact, six of the 12 wide receivers on the Patriots' roster are rookies, two of whom the team drafted in the top four rounds.
To read more about the biggest questions for NFL contenders, you must be an ESPN Insider.
We see that you are not an ESPN Insider. Upgrade today and gain access to our exclusive coverage.
MORE NFL HEADLINES
- Manziel inks endorsement contract with Nike
- Report: Sharper admitted sex not consensual
- Peterson lobbies for Vikings to sign QB Vick
- Bears say thanks, tell Hester he won't return
MOST SENT STORIES ON ESPN.COM
THE NFL ON ESPN.COM
Despite Jadeveon Clowney's insane numbers, doubts remain about what can't be measured.
- NFL Home
- AFC East
- Buffalo Bills
- Miami Dolphins
- NE Patriots
- New York Jets
- AFC West
- Denver Broncos
- Kansas City Chiefs
- Oakland Raiders
- San Diego Chargers
- AFC North
- Baltimore Ravens
- Cincinnati Bengals
- Cleveland Browns
- Pittsburgh Steelers
- AFC South
- Houston Texans
- Indianapolis Colts
- Jacksonville Jaguars
- Tennessee Titans
- NFL Nation
- Free-Agent Tracker