With preseason well underway, it is time to look at contenders and pretenders for 2011. Some teams made big-name acquisitions in the free agent frenzy, while others added small, key pieces to the existing squad.
Teams narrowly missing out on the last year's playoffs will be challenging for the division and wild-card berths. The Oakland Raiders, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, St. Louis Rams and others will be looking to take the next step this year.
With Tony Romo returning under center for the Cowboys, the Giants and Eagles will have to keep an eye on Jason Garrett's boys from Dallas. After a disappointing 2010 season, the Cowboys will control their own destiny as they battle it out in the tough NFC East.
The emerging Houston Texans have made significant upgrades in the secondary, signing cornerback Johnathan Joseph and safety Danieal Manning. With Peyton Manning recovering from neck surgery, it could be the Texans' year to claim the AFC South crown. However, injuries and the loss of all-pro fullback Vonta Leach could give Gary Kubiak's men trouble in 2011.
From the high-flying Philadelphia Eagles to the young Detroit Lions, the 2011 NFL season will be full of new-look contenders and almost-there pretenders.
Which of these so-called contenders will be pretenders in 2011?