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Top 10 challengers to New England Patriots in 2015

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The NFL AM crew unpacked the question of the New England Patriots' biggest threat to another AFC title in 2015.

That segment provided the inspiration for a list of the 10 biggest challengers to the Patriots' Super Bowl crown. Might we see a rematch next February?

1. Seattle Seahawks: Russell Wilson's contract will soon transition from one of the game's biggest competitive advantages to a hindrance. As long as Pete Carroll has Wilson, Marshawn Lynch and a handful of All-Pro-caliber performers on defense, though, the road to the Super Bowl goes through Seattle.

2. Green Bay Packers: The NFC Championship Game was a gut-punch loss, but Mike McCarthy still oversees one of the deepest and most talented rosters in the NFL. With an offensive nucleus of Aaron Rodgers, Eddie Lacy and Jordy Nelson in Green Bay, the Packers remain a contender.

3. Pittsburgh Steelers: Once Martavis Bryant's presence ignited one of the league's most talented offenses, the Steelers won eight of their final 10 regular-season games. They have reason to believe they would have gone into New England in January if not for Le'Veon Bell's knee injury. Mike Tomlin's team is an impact pass rusher and a revamped secondary away from dethroning the Pats.

4. Denver Broncos: It all boils down to the Peyton Manning question. Was his late-season collapse merely a byproduct of two quadriceps injuries, as John Elway obviously believes? Or is his arm shot, as several NFL executives opined to NFL Media's Albert Breer?

5. Baltimore Ravens: Marc Trestman is a fine choice as offensive coordinator, but Gary Kubiak's success in overhauling a historically inept ground attack can't be overstated. This offense could slide with Torrey Smith due to hit free agency, Steve Smith another year closer to the end and the running game in transition.

6. Carolina Panthers: Deride the NFC South if you want, but the Panthers were playing like one of the top half-dozen teams in the league by the end of the regular season. After building back-to-back division winners on a shoestring budget, general manager Dave Gettleman will get his first opportunity to join in the free-agent frenzy next month.

7. Dallas Cowboys: America's Team isn't without question marks. Will Offensive Player of the Year DeMarco Murray be back? Can Tony Romo stay healthy for a full season at age 35? Will Jerry Jones improve a defense that ranked 22nd in Football Outsiders' metrics in 2014?

8. Philadelphia Eagles: Iggles fans can't be blamed for thinking they would have made the playoffs if not for Nick Foles' absence in the second half of the season. This is a team with few holes. If Chip Kelly re-signs Jeremy Maclin and fixes his problems in the secondary, he can recapture the NFC East title.

9. Detroit Lions: Team president Tom Lewand's confidence in his ability to re-sign Ndamukong Suh keeps the Lions in the top 10. Can this squad advance to Super Bowl contender status with three players absorbing nearly half of the salary cap?

10. Indianapolis Colts: The Colts have Andrew Luck to thank for their presence on this list. They will wrap up the AFC South by mid-December, only to turn the Patriots' next street free-agent running back into a household name a month later.

The latest Around The NFL Podcast recaps Super Bowl XLIX, including Malcolm Butler's game-sealing interception, Tom Brady's legacy and more. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.

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